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

Bill's Reasoning

Here's why I say that "There's NO Such Thing as an 'IT' Project". Calling a project an "IT Project" promotes the idea that IT is solely responsible for the project's success, and this is a major reason why so many projects fail to meet their objectives. Consider the following diagram:

Figure 1 - Project Management Lifecycle Process
Figure 1 - Project Management Lifecycle Process

Figure 1 shows a high-level illustration of the Project Management Lifecycle. The various process boxes are shaded in red or green to show that some sub-processes are the responsibility of IT and others are the responsibility of Business. You can see that more than half of the activities over the course of the project are the responsibility of Business. Let's look at the red boxes in more detail:

Senior Managers Understand the Strategic Considerations

Figure 2 - Senior Managers' Responsibilities
Figure 2 - Senior Managers' Responsibilities

The first two boxes in the diagram are where strategic decisions are made. Practically every company has more project requests than they have the capacity to fulfill. Deliberate decisions must be made to ensure that the time, money, and energy that can be invested in projects return the greatest possible value and benefits for the company. It also means understanding that there is a practical limit to the volume of project work that can be effectively pursued. Exceeding that limit results in poor quality.

Senior Managers are best suited to make strategic decisions because they are most familiar with the strategic direction and goals of the company. Part of their jobs is to plan beyond present needs, and understand where the company is headed and what needs to happen for the company to continue to be successful. Because strategic decisions are made with the interests of the entire enterprise in mind, project Vision, Justification, Selection, and Prioritization processes should be made at the enterprise level as well.

Too many companies relegate project selection to the departmental level, resulting in duplicated efforts and sub-optimization of resource utilization. When Senior Managers don't provide the guidance and insight needed to ensure that projects are addressing the most important enterprise needs then time, money, and energy are wasted and many projects have little to no chance for success.

Business Professionals Understand the Tactical Considerations

Figure 3 - Business Professionals' Responsibilities
Figure 3 - Business Professionals' Responsibilities

The other three process areas of Business activities are the responsibility of Business Professionals. These are the folks who execute the daily work of the company. They are the ones who understand not only the processes that are executed in the performance of daily activities but, more importantly, the exceptions to those processes. When project requirements are being documented process exceptions are often missed, resulting in last minute changes and additions to project requirements. It's even worse when these exceptions aren't recognized until after the project has been promoted to the Production environment and quality-related issues start to crop up because requirements and consequences weren't completely captured or defined.

Business Professionals understand today's work-related processes and, therefore, how those processes will be affected by new initiatives. They are the ones who know how new projects will affect daily work going forward. Business Professionals are also responsible for User Acceptance testing. They know how the product will have to perform in Production. When Business Professionals don't have the time or commitment to focus and fulfill their project responsibilities projects have little to no chance for success.

Technology Professionals Understand the Technical Considerations

Figure 4 - Technology Professionals' Responsibilities
Figure 4 - Technology Professionals' Responsibilities

Finally we look at the process areas that are the responsibility of Technical Professionals. Because strategic decisions and business-related definition and design considerations all happen before technical work, it follows that if strategic or business-related decisions are incomplete or are in error, the project results will reflect this; garbage in, garbage out, as is well known.

When strategic direction is lacking, or requirements are inadequate, Technical Professionals are often put in the position of trying to fill in the blanks in order to meet aggressive deadlines. When this happens projects have little to no chance for success.

A Question of Semantics  A Question of Semantics

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