IT project management practices are stuck in the mud, and they're hindering IT departments' ability to deliver projects successfully. That's the conclusion of a recent Forrester report, "Stretching Your Project Management Muscles," which was published in July.
Mary Gerush, author of the report (and a former IT project manager herself), notes that the project management discipline has not kept up with the pace of change in business or in IT.
Gerush writes that while IT departments have adopted service oriented architecture (SOA) and Agile software development practices to become more responsive to business needs, the project management discipline has remained largely focused on methodology. And traditional project management methodologies are proving to be too rigid, cumbersome and bureaucratic for today's mercurial and competitive business environment. In fact, Gerush notes, these methodologies can work against IT departments.
"Traditional project management practices, which are designed to improve the likelihood of project success, often have the opposite effect in a dynamic, rapidly changing environment," writes Gerush in her report.
The reason traditional project management methodologies can backfire on IT departments is because they require so much rigor. For example, says Gerush, project managers have to follow scores of pre-defined processes and steps, and they have to deliver reams of documentation at each phase of the project-all of which dramatically and often unnecessarily protracts projects.
"There's so much rigor and normally so much documentation and so many processes you have to go through to follow a methodology that it weighs you down and that you can't move as quickly as the business needs you to move or as quickly as technology enables you to move," she says.
The Remedy: Flexible Project Management
To keep pace with the business and with the rest of IT, project management offices need to make their project management practices more flexible. Gerush offers five measures project management teams can employ to improve their responsiveness.
1. Adopt a framework. A framework is a collection of various pieces of project management "functionality," says Gerush. When projects come in, the project management office can choose which pieces of the framework to use to provide just the right amount of oversight necessary for the project, as opposed to following every step of a methodology.