More people work on IT (information technology) projects than on any other category of project. In fact, if you were to conduct a statistical investigation of who is doing what on projects implemented throughout the world, you would likely find that more people are working on IT projects than on all other types combined!

Until recently, those of us who have studied project management over the years have emphasized the universality of project issues encountered by project workers, regardless of the specific nature of the projects being undertaken. After all, a schedule is a schedule, whether it has been created for a construction project, an FDA approval effort, or a software development undertaking. Thus, it is possible to learn key scheduling tools without worrying about the specific context in which the schedule occurs. Similar arguments can be made about budget and resource allocation tools.

Without question, it is remarkable how the experiences of people working on different types of projects are so similar. When construction project managers get together with software project managers, they find that they have many common experiences to share. For example, to the extent that both groups use borrowed resources (called matrix management), they face the common situation where project managers do not control the resources with which they must work. And they both operate in environments where there is a tendency for project scope to grow as the project is carried out (called scope creep).

With the onset of the new millennium, we have begun to turn our attention to the special circumstances governing project work in different business areas. In particular, we now recognize that knowledge-based projects face a different set of challenges than the challenges that traditional projects in the construction and defense industries encounter. For example, knowledge-based projects are heavily oriented toward dealing with intangibles. Knowledge itself is ephemeral and ever-changing. Because knowledge is abstract, it is hard to capture and articulate customer needs and to convert these into concrete requirements. These are the types of issues that workers on knowledge-based projects must contend with day by day.

In Project Management Nation, Jason P. Charvat deals explicitly with the challenges faced by project professionals working on IT projects. He begins by recognizing that the key players on IT projects are different from those encountered on other types of projects. For IT projects to succeed, for example, it is important to have them supported by senior level project sponsors. IT projects without powerful and attentive sponsors are projects that are likely to encounter a host of difficulties. Also, because IT projects are concerned with converting business needs into technical solutions, project teams must be comprised of a wide range of players reflecting both the business and technical dimensions of the project effort.

Charvat also recognizes that IT projects must conform to the system development life cycle (SDLC). SDLCs have emerged over the years as ways to handle the inherent complexity of knowledge-based systems. They are the engines that drive the project, and a key challenge of IT project managers is to plan projects that operate in harmony with the SDLC. Throughout his book, Charvat discusses project management in the SDLC context.

Charvat also acknowledges that conventional project management practice has a significant role to play in IT project management. In the second half of the book, where he discusses project planning, control, and closure, he reviews standard project management techniques in the areas of scheduling and configuration control. But even here, he puts an IT spin on the material, as when he highlights the special role of testing in software development.

This book serves a bridging function, where best-practice IT management and conventional project management merge. By addressing the special issues associated with IT projects, it offers IT project managers pertinent insights that they would not encounter in the standard project management literature.

J. Davidson Frame, PhD Dean, University of Management and Technology

Arlington, VA USA

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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