(Duplicate) Project Management 2.0

There are a huge number of variables in every IT project--different organizations, vendors, software platforms, business drivers, requirements—the list is nearly endless. There is so much variation that it becomes statistically impossible for any one, or even a combination, of these to explain what experts insist is a very high percentage of project failures.

The only consistent factor across nearly all IT projects today, regardless of their industry, geography, or business purpose, is the “Project Management Methodology” that is used to guide the initiative. Project Management is a set of practices that has been formalized in literature, taught in schools, and conferred as an expertise through various certification bodies. There is a hesitancy to question something that is so well entrenched, but the environments that Project Management is expected to control have changed drastically themselves. Consider that Project Management methodology was:

  • born from mid-20th century American architectural thought;
  • developed in resource rich decades of American prosperity;
  • designed to control projects where productivity gains and cost reduction were the primary goals;
  • and organized around a computing environment that offered very little room for variation.

Said another way, the Project Management methodology was designed to manage a linear development process with lots of money and a favorable balance between time and what was promised. This is in contrast to the current situation, where many IT initiatives are responsible for the core viability of a business whose challenges are constantly changing and whose resources are far less boundless than they were even a decade ago.

Software development processes have already responded to this change. For decades few things were more sacred than the process referred to as the “Waterfall Development Model.” Whether the reader is familiar with this process or not is less important than the fact that over the past decade it has been almost universally replaced by the radically different “Agile Development Process.” This change occurred because Agile fits software development in today’s world as well as the Waterfall Model fit the needs of the mid to late 20th century.

Fortunately, project management does not require changes that are of Agile proportions. This is because software development itself has changed more radically than the overall project that surrounds it. But the fact that software development has changed so much just adds to the need for a rethink to Project Management methodologies that are often cast in stone.