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Managing IT: the why, the what and the how

In this module, you’ll explore principles, concepts and techniques of IT service management; the capturing and understanding of requirements; and the management of projects that deliver IT services and realise requirements. The module places some of the general principles of IT management in the specific context of the modelling of data solutions and the implementation and administration of 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.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU levels correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
2 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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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.

Vocational relevance

This module provides you with a basis for further study of IT management, and introduces you to many of the concepts that are tested by the BCS Professional Certification in IS Project Management and IT Service Management.

In addition, the module will help you develop important skills particularly relevant to the workplace, such as written communication skills, information literacy, independent learning, critical analysis and team working. In an IT context, the module will provide practitioners with relevant experience, skills and insight into project management and service management.

Outside the UK

Synchronous tutorials and communications could be difficult to deliver to students outside UK due to time differences. If you can’t attend the synchronous tutorials or make synchronous communications, you’ll have to use asynchronous alternative methods, such as watching recorded tutorials and emailing questions.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll have a named tutor who will support your studies and mark and comment on your assignment work; you can also seek academic advice and guidance from them. Your tutor will offer support through email, telephone and online forum discussions. Additionally, there will be online tutorials. We will advertise tutorials before the module starts; TM254 tutors will take them, but depending on the tutorial, not necessarily your own named tutor. We recommend you book online to attend these tutorials.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


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

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Managing IT: the why, the what and the how (TM254) starts once a year – in October (places are limited and in high demand, so enrol early). This page describes the module that will start in October 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2023.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    No residential school

    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).


    Start End England fee Register
    05 Oct 2019 Jun 2020 -

    Registration now closed

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2023.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser.

    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2020. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 16/09/2019.

    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

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    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.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.