Tag Archives: it project

The Debate about Project Managers

project managementAre project managers really needed for IT success?


What do you think?

The question is, , , “Can you be successful without having an IT Project Management focus?” Give me your perspective in the poll below before reading the rest of the article:


OK, I hope you responded to the poll above and checked the results.

Now, it’s time for me to give you my opinion.


The question is, “Do you need project management focus to achieve IT success?”

My opinion, , , , ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

Projects are not successful on their own, , , they are successful because project managers make them successful.

Without a project management focus, the tasks that need to happen when they need to happen simply do not get completed without a project manager pushing them along.

Let me repeat, , , project managers make projects happen, , , projects do not get completed successfully on their own, , , they just don’t. In fact, projects will not be completed successfully unless someone:

  • pushes the project forward
  • checks to see that all tasks are completed on time
  • anticipates the obstacles that might jeopardize the project’s success

I’m a big believer in placing project management focus on the projects we undertake within an IT organization. To me, it is absolutely essential.

Let me back up just a second. Certainly, an IT organization can achieve some level of success without project management focus. Thousands of small and mid-size companies do it every day. However, your success will be limited and exposure for failure is significant, , , especially with large complex projects.

So, where does the project management debate occur?

What happens is that organizations that apply traditional project management methodologies tend to require quite a bit of overhead, , , too much, in some cases.

My sense is that there needs to be a reasonable amount of “monitoring”, “reporting” and “management” when you manage a project.

I’m not a proponent that says you need to produce all the reports and do all the things that are defined in PMI’s PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge) or similar resources. I believe it requires too much overhead and administrative time.

What I do endorse is that you need a certain amount of structure (methodology) you follow and regularly scheduled status checks to help move a project along.

Operations people often do not want to spend the time to meet every week to discuss project status, identify risks, or discuss problem resolution strategies. They just want IT to complete the project so they can get on with their work.

The bottom line is that operational business people don’t always see the need for project management. Their approach is often, “Just do it, and leave me out of it.”

This is where the debate happens. How do we manage a large complex project so it doesn’t require an excessive amount of time and administrative effort but is sufficient to do the job, , , i.e., deliver the project successfully?

Without the process, odds are extremely high your project is going to fail. “Just doing it” simply won’t be reliable.

At a minimum, projects need seven things to consistently be completed successfully – on time, within budget and meet client needs:

  1. Requirements definition – Some call this a scope document. No need to create a voluminous document here but you must quantify:
    1. Project goals and objectives
    2. Specific deliverables
  2. Project Sponsor agreement on Item #1
  3. Project Schedule that lists all tasks to be completed, completion time frames, and responsibility for completion
  4. Budget that has reasonable amount of buffer
  5. Staff the project with capable resources
  6. Project Kickoff Meeting to get project team members on the same page and to reinforce commitment required
  7. Weekly Project Status Meetings to check status and keep the project moving (i.e., to monitor and manage the Project Schedule)

All of these elements can be accomplished practically and simply, , , without lots of overhead. The point that needs to be made though is that each part needs focus and must be addressed if you want to deliver projects successfully.

it project management ebookFor additional insight on managing successful projects, take a look at my book,
IT Project Management: a practical approach

I’m reminded of things taking longer than planned

Tom Mochal and I decided to develop new 20 Minute IT Manager e-learning sessions this year. For three years between March-2006 to March-2009, we delivered weekly 20-minute training sessions to our subscriber list, , , 162 sessions in all. See www.20minuteitmanager.com for details.

These sessions are excellent training modules that will be great training resources for years and years to come because they aren’t hinged on any specific technology. They are practical tips and techniques on:

  • IT management
  • Project management
  • People management
  • Leadership
  • Professional development

Well, I started getting prepared to produce new sessions, , , essentially developing PowerPoint presentations, recording the voice-over, and publishing the sessions for upload to our Internet servers.

Sounds simple enough, , , after all, I’ve developed over 100 training sessions using the tools we use, , , Articulate Presenter, , , GREAT TOOLS.

But I forgot one simple thing, , , I upgraded my computer system in October and this will be my first time to use these tools in my new environment.

This one little change made my setup preparation a much bigger deal than I had planned. I thought I would be recording in just a few minutes.


First, had to install a new licensed set of software so I downloaded the trial version and tried to register it with my registration key.

“Houston, , , we have a problem!”

Apparently to do this we needed to uninstall the version on my old desktop to free up the license. Unfortunately, this desktop has been put away never to be used again except for dire emergency and the longer we go the bigger the emergency needs to be. Surely we can avoid this “hassle factor”.

When making the system conversion I didn’t worry about this part because I knew I had the registration key needed to activate the software on my new system. Didn’t realize I would actually need to uninstall the software on the old system to free up the license.

A few hours to get the licensed software setup on my new system after contacting their support team, , , they are very good by the way.

OK, ready to go.

Not so fast, , , let’s test a few things before we go too far.

Good thing I did because when I imported an audio file for one of the slides, , , my PowerPoint system freezes, , , locked, , , can’t do anything.


Everything else works fine but PowerPoint is locked solid.  “HU^$%#^%&VFF#”

After considerable Google searches I contact Articulate Support once again and they send me recommended solutions to identify and fix problem. I walk through their recommendations and sure enough, they work.

The issue, , , my new Lenovo laptop (which I absolutely love by the way) comes configured with WinDVD and it causes a conflict with Articulate Presenter. The Articulate Support Team was right on top of the situation, , , told you they were good.

I follow the problem resolution steps, do another audio import test and see that we are now in business, , , no lockup when importing audio.

OK, , , ready to go.

Not so fast, what’s your hurry?

Let’s do another simple test, , , let’s create a 3-slide presentation and publish it to see what it looks like just to ensure all is working well. We don’t want to have to do lots of rework down the line after completing an entire presentation, , , right?

My test presentation publishes the 3 slides without a hitch except for one thing.

It does not look like our other 20MITM sessions we have created. It is obvious that I have to set up Articulate Presenter all over again, , , things like:

  • Our custom user interface template
  • Presenter photos and biographies
  • Default attachments we include in every session with new file paths
  • Even the PowerPoint Slide Master has to be updated.

The bottom line:  My 1-hour prep work turned into a 2-day effort due to the lag time back and forth with support, my learning curve, and the extra work I had to do to troubleshoot and get my presentation production environment back to where it was with the old PC.

The good news, , , I’m set up once again and the new production environment is better than ever, , , faster and even easier to use.

Remember the IT Project Golden Rule, , ,

IT projects usually take longer and cost more
than you think they will.