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Managing IT: the why, the what and the how

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In this module, you’ll explore the principles, concepts and techniques of IT service management, capturing and understanding requirements, and managing projects that deliver IT services and realise requirements. The module places some of the general principles of IT management in the context of modelling data solutions and implementing and administrating a database. You’ll develop your knowledge and understanding in different ways, including practical team working – through which you’ll explore the why, the what, and the how of managing IT.

What you will study

The reason why we provide an IT service is to do something for somebody – who could be either a user or a customer. Understanding what users or customers value, and what needs to be done to ensure that they continue to value it, is what service management is about.

Having understood why an IT system is needed, it’s necessary to understand what will be required of the system, how to express those requirements, and how to build a system to implement them.

Building an IT system is often complex, requiring many different tasks to be performed in the right order. Project management sets out how, given the resources and time available, to achieve all the different tasks, including understanding why the system is needed, and discovering what the requirements are for the system. Finally, throughout the life of any IT system, effective communication between those involved in planning, building and using it will be essential.

The module consists of three blocks:

Block 1: Service management
In the first block, you’ll look at how service management helps to ensure that users and customers receive from IT systems services that they value. Referencing the widely used service management framework, ITIL®, you’ll start by exploring what’s needed to operate existing services effectively, then look at how to identify where, when and why there might be scope for improving services. You’ll go on to consider some of the strategic drivers for providing services to customers, and how to understand their value. You’ll look also at the wide range of things that need to be addressed when designing a service, and then rolling it out into use. The block concludes by looking at how all these aspects of service management interact in the context of the ITIL Service Lifecycle and, finally, explores some important aspects of communicating and working with colleagues in teams.

Block 2: Requirements and databases
In the first section of the block, you’ll learn to understand business goals and needs; the goals and needs of customers; and the requirements of stakeholders. In the second section, you’ll learn about databases, including modelling the data required and implementing a data solution to meet some of the needs and requirements.

Block 3: Project management
This block will introduce you to project management, with an emphasis on managing software projects. You’ll cover project management techniques and topics – such as project planning and activity planning, and managing risk and allocating resources. You’ll also focus on the techniques that are most relevant to software project management, including:

  • choosing an appropriate software development approach
  • estimating how much development effort will be required
  • exploring the tools and techniques for monitoring the progress of projects.

Throughout the module, audio and some visual materials will illustrate and bring the study topics to life with case studies, interviews and panel discussion with experts in service management and project management. You’ll explore some of these further by asking what-if questions and suggesting how the service or project could have been managed differently. In addition, you’ll collaborate, in a small team of fellow students, on exercises based on important aspects of IT management.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this module.

However, as this is an OU level 2 module you’ll need a good knowledge of the subject area obtained through any of the following:

  • OU level 1 study
  • equivalent work at another university
  • experience as an IT professional

You should be experienced in using a computer for working with documents, spreadsheets and accessing the internet; and be able to install software on your computer. You should also have numeracy skills, equivalent to those gained through studying an OU level 1 mathematics module; and have a standard of academic English appropriate for this level of study.

If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.

Preparatory work

Introduction to computing and information technology 1 (TM111) and Introduction to computing and information technology 2 (TM112) would be ideal preparation for this module.

If you’re returning to study, you might find it helpful to look at our Skills for OU Study website and to read The Good Study Guide by Northedge, (The Open University, 2005).

What's included

  • Access to the module study materials via the module website
  • Two externally published books – one printed and online, one online

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.


You can find the assessment details for this module in the facts box.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying TM254 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Managing IT: the why, the what and the how (TM254) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2026.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)