To the layperson, Project Management (PM) may appear to be dry, administrative and boring, but to the IT world, it is critical to success.
With enterprises now seeking to take advantage of the new 3rd Platform revolution which is underway, the adoption and implementation of Cloud, Big Data and Analytics and Mobility must be properly measured and tracked by a professional project management.
When you scratch the 'surface paint', you will find that PM is the fundamental skillset offered by managed service providers, consultants and external IT experts of all labels and persuasions.
Research House Gartner sees PM as "the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements". They say the primary value of PM goes beyond just delivering on-time and on-budget projects, but is ensuring expected business outcomes and realised value.
PM a culture measure
Gartner rightly regards PM as so important because the biggest changes from project activities are actually people-oriented, influencing culture and mind-sets across the whole enterprise. The way an organisation approaches one particular project, will likely be the template they apply to all projects and to the way they generally do business.
Successful PM, say Gartner, "is characterised by the ongoing development and refinement of methods and practices and ensuring that any software tools deployed meet the needs without becoming a burden".
A solid way of determining the ability and expertise of a service provider is to check their project management approach and to grill them on their overall philosophy.
Daryl Yeo, from the National Project Management Office at IT Infrastructure and Managed Services provider, Logicalis Australia, says his firm believes that the success of a project is determined by the ability to manage and control the project.
Strategic and tactical investments
"We understand that each project from our customer is more than just another IT integration or implementation – they are business investments that are tactical and strategic to help achieve a business outcome," Yeo said. "So we take pride when our customers trust us to deliver and we make it our goal to ensure that they see the realisation of their investments in the time required by the business, that the investment delivers what they need and, most of all, fits within their budget."
Yeo shared the most common project management issues that Logicalis encounters. Misaligned expectations between project delivery – and what is in the scope to be delivered – stands out as number one.
"This occurs frequently because often the time when a solution is presented, to when the project commences, can be months or a year. In this time requirements may have changed or the environment has shifted," he said.
"To avoid this, we facilitate a project kick-off with the customer that runs through the scope and covers the project objectives. This normally allows us to clarify 80 to 90% of assumptions regarding scope. Typically for larger and complex projects, where the outcome is so far to conceive in detail, a miss-aligned assumption or expectation can often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in unforeseeable costs to the project. In these scenarios, experience has taught us to break up larger more complex projects into smaller more manageable projects," Yeo said.
Tightening IT budgets have highlighted a specific PM danger of which enterprises should be aware of.
Yeo said that, unfortunately due to many IT budget constraints customers are adopting the lean approach to services by solely selecting proposals that are the most cost effective.
Dangerous PM trend
"As a result, we are starting to see a trend where some customers don’t see the value of effective project management and are requesting that it be removed from the services quote," he said. "As a result of this, we have several customer-managed projects that have exceeded deadlines and budget. We’ve had cases where an implementation should take 3 months but is still open after 12 months.”
"A common misconception is the lack of visibility and understanding in unforseen cost to their business as a result of delays and budget overruns. For example, an organisation may save an extra $5,000 on project services, but as a result of delays the actual cost of impact to their business (in not being able to manage change effectively) is measured in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Project Management (PM) is a complex and involved subject (Frost & Sullivan offers more than 40 distinct PM courses) so the next blog in our series will also take on this examination of PM.
In the meantime, have a look at how Logicalis can help you and your business stay afloat.