Submitted for publication by Email, February 19, 2009 © Robert Goatham & Calleam Consulting Ltd.
Published here April 2009.

Introduction | Projects From First Principles | Compounding the Challenge
Onion Rings | Experts and Expertise | Barriers to Developing Expertise | Conclusion


The inherent characteristics of IT projects are such that they will always be complex endeavors. But the lack of a governing body, low barriers to professional entry, low levels of investment in training, and obstacles generally to developing expertise, all combine to create opportunities for IT projects to go awry. Moreover, rapidly changing technology means that by the time you become an expert the game has already changed. And finally, constant pressure to deliver reduces think time, thereby leading to further mistakes, and then you have "the perfect storm" for project failure.

Obviously, many IT projects do succeed and developing expertise in the IT sector is not impossible. Increasing the chances of project success does however require organizations to think very carefully about how they build teams and the processes they use for ensuring that their teams have the necessary capabilities to succeed. Although it's always tempting to blame the Project Manager or the project team when a project fails, most often failure is a reflection of broader problems within the organization as a whole. Rather than blaming the team, organizations would be better served if they took a long hard look at their management, training and hiring practices.

A key part of the changes organizations need to make comes down to recognizing the decision-centric complexity that is the essence of an IT project. It is easy to get lured into a false sense of security simply because a Gantt chart can make an IT project look relatively simply. However, the underlying web of interrelated decisions is the dimension that makes managing IT projects so hard to accomplish.

Therefore, it is necessary to recognize and understand the decision-making dimension along with the many and varied factors that affect the way individuals, teams and organizations make decisions. Only then will organizations be able to build the necessary infrastructure within which expertise will flourish. Then and only then can organizations start on the long road towards developing the levels of expertise needed to be able to improve their chances of success.

 Barriers to Developing Expertise    Barriers to Developing Expertise

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