Compounding the Challenge
IT projects cannot claim to be the only decision centric projects and many other types of project fall into the same class. Designing a new car or designing a building represents other examples. There are however a number of factors that make decision-making in the IT sector particularly tricky:
- IT projects usually involve many individuals and as a result the decision-making is often heavily decentralized across the team.
- Many decisions are subjective and there are no definitively right or wrong answers.
- Most decisions lack the physical attributes that more readily lend themselves to visualization, verification and communication (such as height, depth, breadth and mass).
- People with diverse paradigms and perspectives need to work together. Those differing backgrounds compound the difficulty of communicating effectively.
- Many decisions in an IT project involve significant uncertainty.
- The decisions are often mutually dependent. A decision in one part of the project can have implications across many other parts of the project.
The high number of decisions made in a typical IT project, and the complex interactions and dependencies that exist between those decisions, represents many magnitudes of complexity beyond the simple representation of a project captured in a Gantt chart. So we must put aside the task centric simplification that has become the standard view of a project. Then we can say that the fundamental problem that makes managing an IT project so hard to do can be encapsulated by the question: "How do we manage a large scale, complex, decentralized, decision-making activity?"