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IT Project Management - The Basics Explained

September 11, 2008

51% of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects are deemed unsuccessful by their own management teams and corporate sponsors. 46% of project participants and stakeholders do not believe that their business sufficiently understands the system being implemented to leverage the benefits underpinning its business case in the first place.

Alarming, I'm sure you'll agree. What's more alarming is that this statistic is not changing significantly over time.

Are systems getting more complex? Well, yes, but I'd argue they're also getting more intuitive, hence their complexity is more easily harnessed. I blame the level of Project Management competence professed by many practitioners who give themselves the title. Enter the Project Management Institute (PMI) and their tireless work to raise the bar of competence in their discipline (the accreditation of Project Management Professional (PMP) being the holy grail).

In re-reading the Five Secrets white paper, I found myself thinking that IT Project Management really does have a bad name for good reason. The fundamentals of planning, and the project management steps that need to be taken prior to kicking off any initiative are often overlooked by the enthusiastic/naive project manager (who is more often than not compelled by necessity for rapid progress).

The paradox is of course that without working through the fundamental project planning steps, the project is often destined for failure before it even commences. That's the tough bit - it takes a stern project manager to push back against the undeniable compulsion for progress to get the basic project management steps in place.

The white paper referred to in this blog articulates the fundamentals of project planning, and the formal project management steps that must be taken prior to implementation. Project management steps like:

  • Confirming your budget
  • Documenting senior level support/sponsorship
  • Securing staff/resourcing, and
  • Communicating the vendor engagement framework

...are all steps the astute project manager must take. Do these things, and you're most of the way there.

The remaining challenge faced by the project manager everyday is to get people who don’t work for you, to do real work for you. For this we recommend tact, subtlety, perseverance, Altoids and a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Good luck out there. If we can help, give us a shout.