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

A Question of Semantics

Max Wideman: Bill, To say that "There's NO Such Thing as an 'IT' Project" is about like saying there is no such thing as a construction project, or no such thing as an aeronautical project, or no such thing as an administrative project, or ... well you get the picture. The purpose of making these differentiations is largely because each area of application tends to use different technology jargon and is also managed differently.

Douglas J. Roach: I wanted to be nicer in answering this question, but I find that I must be brutally honest. Claiming that there is no such thing as an IT project is a fallacious and ridiculous argument. IT, of course, stands for Information Technology. Merriam Webster defines it as: "the technology involving the development, maintenance, and use of computer systems, software, and networks for the processing and distribution of data", the term being coined in 1978".

Wikipedia goes further: "Information technology (IT) is the application of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data, often in the context of a business or other enterprise. The term is commonly used as a synonym for computers and computer networks, but it also encompasses other information distribution technologies such as television and telephones. Several industries are associated with information technology, such as computer hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, internet, telecom equipment, e-commerce and computer services."

IT projects are IT projects because they are focused on information technologies. The owning business unit or business process is irrelevant to their being properly identified as IT projects. In addition, IT departments often have their own budgets, and make the technological recommendations to the business. Even then, they bear responsibility for the success of the projects they are assigned. By extension, the "no IT projects" would boil down to customer driven projects, or chairman of the board projects, and we know that is not true. You don't find energy companies defining an oil-drilling project as anything less than it is, nor do automakers refer to new design projects as anything other than that.

Gurpreet Dulai: Bill, you say "... when we call it an 'IT Project' it deemphasizes the critical responsibilities that Senior Managers and Business Professionals have to continue to fulfill, in order for the project to succeed. Too often once specifications are documented they're 'thrown over the wall' to IT with expectations that the ball is in IT's court". In that case, in my opinion, you are essentially pointing to internal operational and leadership issues, not to a problem with the term "IT project" itself.

The idea that senior managers and business professionals would essentially jump ship just because a project is in a functional department's hands, specifically IT in this case, seems odd to me, especially considering it's very much in their interest that IT does what it's supposed to do. That said, I don't doubt that it actually happens to one degree or another across a variety of organizations, but that makes it a strategic and/or a tactical level issue, probably based on inadequate corporate role definitions and other policies/procedures/processes shortcomings, and not a terminology issue.

Drivers for Projects  Drivers for Projects

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