Formal It Project Management Roles

Formal IT project management begins with a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the IT project manager, versus the roles and responsibilities of the project's business sponsor, versus the roles and responsibilities of the functional IT manager. These roles and responsibilities are briefly summarized in Table 34-1.

Let's start with an exploration of the IT Functional Manager role. Many IT organizations are structured around business areas supported, which often translates into oversight of specific applications or product lines or specific operational activity. Titles used for the individuals who manage these operational activities are Application Manager, Product Line Manager, and Data Center Manager. Their responsibilities often include an operational or maintenance type of function, the "Lights On" role within IT. While their daily activities are quite varied, their overall contribution to the business is the same: keep operations running, ensure the various IT capabilities are available to the business units relying on them. IT Functional Managers are often key stakeholders in IT projects, most often as providers of knowledgeable, experienced project staff, as quality control participants and as the recipients of the project's deliverables.

Compare these responsibilities with those of the IT project manager. An IT project manager's responsibilities are established when the project is initially conceived and are concluded when the project's deliverables are completed, when the end state is achieved. The typical responsibilities associated with the project manager role include identifying the work to be performed, determining and obtaining the corporate resources (budget, people, facilities) required to achieve the project's objectives, and then managing those resources as they are used to perform the project's identified work. It is the project manager's responsibility to ensure that any changes in the definition of the project's end state are reflected in the project's governing documents, that the Business Sponsor agrees to impacts to budgets or schedules. The project manager is also responsible of the communication of the project status to the Business Sponsor and other project stakeholders, which often include the functional IT managers.

There are organizations where an IT Functional Manager will assume the role of IT project manager on occasion, managing the enhancement of an existing application or the introduction of a new capability into the IT portfolio. It is important for the person fulfilling these two roles to be aware of the distinctions and to not allow operational considerations, such as staff availability, impede success of the project. As the project manager, the IT Functional Manager needs to ensure that the staff time required to work on the project is made available and that operations "hot items" do not prevent project progress.

The Business Sponsor role is akin to that of the homeowner in a construction project. The Sponsor is the ultimate owner of the project, representing the business users for whom the IT product or service is being provided. The Business Sponsor is responsible for making decisions regarding scope, schedule, and budget trade-offs, after listening to advice and recommendations from the experienced IT project manager.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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