Copyright to Bill Monroe, © 2014 Quality Project Delivery Ltd. All rights reserved.
Originally published as a blog on LinkedIn March 2014 and content extracted for publication here June 2014.

Editor's Note | Distinguishing between "Business" and "IT" | Drivers for Projects
A Question of Semantics | Bill's Reasoning | Conclusion | Different Types of Project

Distinguishing between "Business" and "IT"

Bill Monroe (added by way of explanation): EVERY project has to be justified according to the Business value it enables or attains. Therefore, even if a project is managed by IT, it is OWNED by Business. For example: If business was agriculture, then IT would be the tractor, while Business would be the farmer. It is the farmer who decides where to plow!

Kiron Bondale: Agreed — but I don't like to see a distinction made between IT and Business — everyone is part of "the business".

Bill Monroe: Hi Kiron, I agree that everyone is part of the business. Making the distinction between business and IT is harmful when it is used in a way that divides the business into separate camps. On the other hand distinguishing between "Business" and "IT" can be seen in the same way as distinguishing between "Sales" and "Order Fulfillment". In other words, it is a way to identify the particular functional specialty of the folks in question. It is unfortunate that so many companies have the "separate camp" mentality when it comes to Business and IT. This is especially harmful when you consider that success with software-related projects requires effective collaboration between Business folks (the ones who understand what the finished product must do) and Technology folks (the ones who will be building the product).

Jorge Castelnuovo: Bill, I think there are some projects that do not impact a specific business unit, but rather the whole corporation. For example, let's suppose that you are running an IT operations department and you realize that you can dramatically reduce your operational costs and offer a higher system availability simply by virtualizing most of your physical servers. Sometimes, these types of projects are referred to as "IT Projects" simply because they are not linked to any particular business initiative.

Bill Monroe: Hi Jorge, even in the example that you've given, a business case to justify funding for such a project would be considered based on the value and benefits to the company that such an investment would enable. Your example about projects "that do not impact a specific business unit, but rather the whole corporation" is a good justification for Project Portfolio Management at the enterprise level. In fact, I believe that one of the largest sources of waste in many organizations is that projects are selected and prioritized at the departmental level, instead of considering what's best for the enterprise as a whole. Departmental project planning and execution, in many cases, leads to duplication of effort between departments and uncoordinated activities throughout the organization.

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