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Top 10 Reasons All IT Professionals Should Learn Project Management

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Top 10 Reasons All IT Professionals Should Learn Project Management

Tim McClintock, Global Knowledge Instructor

Ever hear someone say this?

Everything is going just fine And as far as we can tell were on schedule, on budget, and everybodys happy Why would you ever want to go and CHANGE ANYTHING???
Ever hear anyone say these?

Weve never done it THAT way before, or Weve always done it THIS Way and besides we prefer to believe what we prefer to believe. Sir Frances Bacon, Critical Thinking Problem, and Decision Making (Egan, Brian Dennis, Global Knowledge Network, 2005, adapted, 2012). And we believe its working
So the question Id like to ask is this one: Is it really working? Do your IT projects seem to be working out as you had planned? Do you have a plan? Could it be that there might just be a better way? A better approach, a different method, something thats been proven to be useful, proven to be successful, and proven to be repeatable? Current studies by the Standish Group indicate that 32 percent of IT projects are successful, 44 percent conclude being somewhat challenged, and 24 percent completely fail. It looks like theres still room for improvement. The question is what will help us to improve our IT endeavors? A study of project management would seem to be helpful for any IT professional. Okay, good enough. But how does that help an IT professional in their daily work? Why should an IT professional bother to learn the discipline of project management? What is the draw? What are the benefits? How can project management help you with the daily obstacles you are facing, and what is the return on the investment for your organization, and for you both personally and professionally?

Copyright 2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved.

1. Greater Ability to Deal with Increases in Speed,Velocity, and Change

Does the following seem to describe you? At work, you are being required to do more, with less, and at a faster pace than ever before. Sound familiar? If so, what seems to be driving this? Bill Gates has spoken about this. In his book, Business @ the Speed of Thought , he indicated that: The 1980s were about quality The 1990s were about re-engineering The New Century will be about velocity, about speed 1 One part of the velocity and speed aspect is that things seem to be happening at a faster pace than ever before. This is especially true of change. We see this all around us - the rapid pace of change. The question eventually becomes why? Why the rapid pace of change? I believe there are several reasons. Here are just a few. Rapid growth in many sectors Increased amounts of competition Increased amounts of Innovation and creativity Exponential increases in the economic forces pushing down on all of our organizations The rapid pace of change, Short technological life-cycles, Rapid execution and development Quick time to market

The rapid growth of the 1960s and 1970s led to the re-engineering of the 1980s, which led to the new era of the 1990s. The new era ended suddenly when the dot com crash arrived in 2000. Expectations of rapid corporate growth have been replaced with an emphasis on core competencies and a focus on team productivity. Markets are saturated, competition is fierce, and money is tight. Corporations and organizations of every type are trying to do more with less. (Egan, Brian Dennis, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making, 2005 Global Knowledge Network).
Increased amounts of competition come about not only locally but globally. Technology itself is both the driver and enabler of this. Organizations must beat their competition to the marketplace with products and services that are created at a fast pace with limited resources of every kind. One common scenario I have seen goes something like this: Being in reaction mode, those at the top of an organization call on those below to pick up the pace, get it done faster than before. In an effort to also squeeze out a bit of profit, they also require those doing the work to get even more done with fewer resources, and in an attempt to beat the competition to the marketplace, they

Copyright 2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved.

need it done even faster than ever before. The effect this has on quality is a subject for another time, but should also never be far from our minds. How will we ever get an ever increasing amount of work accomplished at a faster pace than ever before with fewer resources available? All of this is either a recipe for disaster and increased amounts of stress, or an opportunity for organized project management.

2. Tangible Values
The tangible values of project management can be seen in the following categories: Economic, People, Culture, Organizational attributes, and Strategic. The values themselves come under the headings of stakeholder satisfaction, alignment of processes, projects, and programs, consistent use of project management practices, tools, and methodologies which lead to consistent process outcomes, business outcomes, and calculated and measurable benefits being realized. Following are some quotes related to the tangible values of project management:

We now build an additional 20% for project management on all of our projects. - Senior Manager #76
Improved project management should help with share prices because it will increase confidence in the market as we deliver on projects. - PM Management #75 The value of project management is tangible. Its the structure behind the projects. [ed. with project management] We do better than industry benchmarks. - Project Manager #75 Project management provides hard value: saving wasted dollars and effort and mitigating the risk of wasted dollars. - Senior Manager #75 The value of project management is control. - Project Manager #75 2

3. Intangible Values
Satisfaction of PM Organization and Customer Enhanced Decision making, Communication, Effective work culture Aligned Organization and Aligned PM Consistent practices and Repeatable processes Alignment of approach, terms, and values Better process results which lead to better project results Enhanced business outcomes Following are some quotes related to the intangible values of project management: Project Management as a positive influence on creative thinking and enhances the organizations innovation capacity. - Sponsor #24

Copyright 2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved.

Collaboration within and between teams has improved; silos within the organization have dimin ished. - Senior Manager #76 It gives them a sense of accomplishment, it gives them a sense of being connected to the enter prise, it gives them an opportunity to contribute and understand how [their work] relates to the larger operation and to the success of the organization. - Senior Manager #20 3

4. Higher Salary
In a comparison of salaries, leaders competent in project management, especially Project Management Professionals (PMP), usually command a higher salary as compared to non-certified project managers. As of December 2011, the following salaries were noted for certified project managers. Project Manager, Information Technology $59,899 -$120,960 Senior IT Project Manager $77,788 - $129,411 (Inc., 2011)

5. Increases Your Job Security While Offering a More Secure Career Path Within the Organization
It was earlier mentioned that previous expectations of rapid corporate growth have now been replaced with an emphasis on core competencies and a focus on productivity, while at the same time corporations are requiring employees to do more with less.

In the eras of rapid growth, mere seniority was sufficient to advance your career; that is no longer the case. Either you are exceptional or you are at risk of being downsized out the door. Slow growth and increasing competition within and between industries is making for a very tight corporate ladder. Opportunities for advancement are made even tighter by a huge number of middle-aged (and later) babyboomers who are clinging to senior positions. Until the baby-boomer tide ebbs, only the best of the next generation will rise to senior positions. In order to advance, it is necessary to differentiate yourself. 4
While it is true that you can lead from within any level of an organization, those in trusted leadership positions are typically more effective in doing so. The tools of a knowledgeable, experienced, competent project manager help to facilitate their visibility while at the same time giving them an advantage over others seeking the same (limited) number of positions.

6. Increases Your Marketability through Enhanced Skill Sets and Higher Billing Rates
In contrast to the points listed in the previous reason, in some organizations IT professionals find themselves at a point where they have reached a ceiling as far as the height to which the corporate ladder is available to them in their current role. This typically has nothing to do with their ability to perform work at higher levels in the organization; it is simply that the skill sets that they currently are proficient in are not utilized on an ongoing basis by those in the more senior positions. As a result, as knowledge increases, experience is gained and skill sets are expanded upon, IT professionals sometimes find themselves reaching a point where they must make a choice to
Copyright 2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. 5

either stay with an organization in their current role, or seek additional opportunities. As previously mentioned, specific project management related skills and knowledge, along with leadership skills acquired and enhanced through project leadership such as technical expertise, the ability to lead and inspire a team, accountability and ability to innovate can open up new opportunities within an existing organization. A competent, knowledgeable, and well-trained project manager possesses skill sets that set them apart and places them squarely in the company of those chosen for further advancement. Those same skills and knowledge can also make an IT professional more marketable in the industry as a whole. With marketability comes increased security in an ever-changing market sector that at times shows great volatility. In addition, additional education, experience, and certification in project management affords higher billing rates as consultant, or as someone seeking a new opportunity as an employee with a new organization.

7. Greater Ability to Control Schedule and Costs

As IT professionals, the days of operating in an autonomous fashion, setting our own budgets, doing our own thing as we knew how to do it are past. Todays IT professionals often work with liaisons from the business sector, and we are held to higher standards than ever before regarding the ability to control project schedules and ultimately project costs. A solid foundation in project management skills is essential to being able to do so on a repeatable basis. Its one thing to achieve project success. Its quite another to do so in a repeatable, sustainable fashion. Those IT professionals who require the skills of solid project management are those who will ultimately achieve repeatable success, and in doing so, find themselves in greater demand.

8. Greater Ability to Manage Changes and Avoid Scope Creep

Customer requirements change; schedules change; budgets change; resources, materials, and even entire departments sometimes change at a moments notice. A formal integrated change control system that is well documented and communicated to the entire team of project stakeholders will greatly enhance the IT professionals ability to manage the seemingly unending onslaught of changes they typically deal with on a daily basis.

9. Minimize and Even Avoid Rework

A common thread which runs through many IT environments is the need to continually revisit a piece of work, often unnecessarily. This sometimes comes about due to the lack of a formal plan which details how the work should be approached before execution begins. A Work Authorization System, common in project management environments, helps to make sure that the right work is done by the right people in the right sequence. Combined with other common project management planning and execution tools and techniques, the amount of rework can be effectively minimized and sometimes even avoided. This is one of many tools IT professionals can learn to utilize which will help them to get their work accomplished within the specified time frame, with far greater chance of staying within the given budget parameters.

10. Improves Communications between Stakeholders

Many things cause projects and endeavors to achieve less than optimal success. Whether it is lack of requirements, lack of understanding of the requirements, poor planning, poor schedule management, poor cost man-

Copyright 2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved.

agement, lack of leadership, lack of management support, failure to manage customer expectations, etc., etc., many of these causes can be traced back to a breakdown in communication. The Project management Institute (PMI) encourages budget managers to spend 90 percent of their efforts in communication. Through a thorough understanding of the tools and techniques available an IT professional in a project environment, communication between all project stakeholders can be enhanced and the likelihood of project success dramatically increases.

1 Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System, Grand Central Publishing (1999), ISBN-10: 0446525685. 2 Thomas, Janice L., Ph.D. and Mark E. Mullaly, PMP, Researching the Value of Project Management, Interthink Consulting Inc.,PMI Research Conference, Warsaw, Poland 2008. 3 Thomas, Janice L., Ph.D. and Mark E. Mullaly, PMP, Researching the Value of Project Management, Interthink Consulting Inc., PMI Research Conference, Warsaw, Poland 2008. 4 Egan, Brian Dennis, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making, Global Knowledge Network, 2005.

Learn More
To learn more about how you can improve productivity, enhance efficiency, and sharpen your competitive edge, check out the following Global Knowledge courses: Introduction to Project Management IT Project Management PMP Exam Prep Boot Camp Project Management, Leadership, and Communication Visit www.globalknowledge.com or call 1-800-COURSES (1-800-268-7737) to speak with a Global Knowledge training advisor.

About the Author

Tim McClintock, PMP is a Senior Instructor and course director with Global Knowledge. He has over 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 Companies in the IT, banking, and service sectors, and has consulted with organizations such as Nortel, Cisco, SBC, Verizon, CitiGroup, Exxon Mobil, NSA, DISA, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Schlumberger, and the United States Military. He provides management and technical consulting and training to all levels of professionals in both established businesses and new business ventures.

Copyright 2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved.

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