Project Management Forecast

In closing this chapter, I thought it most appropriate to forecast into the near future and envision the role that the IT project manager of tomorrow must play. Information technology projects are used in virtually every industry vertical today and will dramatically increase over the next few years, making remarkable achievements and strides in all industries. Yet, the phenomenon of information overload is in its infancy. By best accounts and predictions, if the amount of information doubles every eighteen months, then by 2010 there will be roughly 700 bits of data for every fact in existence. This does not necessarily imply that we will be better informed. As IT project managers, we will need to manage projects whereby meaningful facts—those that are useful and reliable—are put into place and then ensure that this information becomes a valuable resource.

Additionally, IT systems will also become far more powerful, intelligent, and flexible than ever before. Important changes will take place with such increasing frequency that it will become vital to manage the development and delivery of such solutions correctly. We will see rapid advances in the fields of (1) integrated web solutions, (2) telecommunications, (3) highspeed networks, (4) medical-based technologies, and (5) information engineering. These solutions may very well dictate that industries require new processes, integration, and functionality overnight. These are the types of challenges IT project managers will face in the near future.

Let me examine one of these verticals in closer detail. Projects in the medical and pharmaceutical industries will use an ever-increasing amount of information technology to assist in identifying, diagnosing, and solving medical illnesses. IT solutions ranging from noninvasive ultrasound applications all the way to advanced applications, which provide improved clinical capabilities, will be developed by high-tech organizations to assist medical practitioners in their daily tasks. These solutions will focus on utilizing super-fast databases and analytical tools that can increase diagnostics techniques for studying medical data and can allow for this complex data to be modeled and used to treat patients. Together with the pioneers and visionaries out there, project managers will still remain the key enablers in designing, developing, and delivering a new generation of applications and technologies to clients on a global basis.

The Human Genome Project is one of these kinds of projects. It applies the latest technology to shed light on how faulty genes play a role in disease causation. The project, which began in 1990, was originally scheduled to last fifteen years, but it was completed way ahead of schedule, primarily due to the rapid advances made in information technology. The principles and application of sound project management were key in bringing this project within schedule. Interestingly enough, the technology objectives established at that time were to:

? Identify all the 100,000 genes in human DNA

? Determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA ? Store this information in databases

? Develop tools for data analysis

? Transfer related technologies to the private sector

I WISH I HAD KNOWN THAT

It is the project manager's secondary task, while working with the client site, to seek out and obtain repeat business where possible. Many opportunities are missed due to the fact that the project manager is eager to move onto other important clients in order to further his or her career and is not satisfied by remaining with a single client all the time. In doing this, the project manager loses valuable opportunities.

It is a common misconception that project closure is left until the very end in the project life cycle. In fact, it is catered for during the initial planning phase while the project manager is planning the entire project.

Be wary of those IT projects that are not formally closed and tend to drift and become subprojects. It is common for many organizations to simply extend the original project into yet another project where the initial "bugs" or trouble tickets can be resolved. In such a scenario, project members will easily become disheartened and will want to move onto something else. It is the project manager's job to ensure that the project is formally completed.

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