Key Issues Affecting Projects and Project Management

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Key issues affecting projects and Project Management

1. Introduction

Projects that have in their scope the exploitation of information and information technology as a mean of achieving development, have emerged in the past 50 years becoming one of the most frequent types of projects under development. But often, mistakenly, the developed software is thought to be the only product of such projects, and once they are completed, the project objectives are considered as fulfilled. But especially in large and broad scoped initiatives, the development or acquisition of the IT software and infrastructure is only one subtask which should be driven by and integrated to the broader set of activities that constitute the whole strategic plan. The IT project management methodology is becoming more and more sophisticated and elaborated, and yet there is a very high rate of failures in IT projects.

This paper aims to discuss some key issues which might underpin the success or failure of a project. The above will be discussed in the light of a real case example. It regards a large company, a bank with a very large IT department, with a strategy that foresees in house development for IT applications. The bank expects to have significant cost cutting through in-house developments. At the same time it aims to achieve quality and flexibility through custom tailored, locally supported software.

Recently there have been major changes in the way IT projects are managed. The changes have significantly contributed in a more consolidated methodology of managing projects and in improved efficiency. Nevertheless new weak points have emerged which can probably be a result of process over-engineering. The discussion in this paper is mostly related to internal organization of projects inside a company; however most of the conclusions can also be applicable to a variety of scenarios. Let’s start with a short review of what were the initial process and the changes made to it, always trying to highlight some key practical issues. What can be some key characteristics that create inefficiencies, what can be the approach to solving them, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a “perfect” organization and fully standardized processes?

1. Initial approach

The initial approach to project management was one with loosely defined processes. The necessity for IT projects was raised locally inside different departments, and with the support of the respective board member, this requirement would then be negotiated with the head of IT department who would then allocate resources after reconciling the project portfolio and the priorities given to each project. Communication was frequent and lines of communication not strictly defined.

After the project documentation was roughly completed and involved parties reached an agreement on timelines, the project was then assigned to specific resources considering their individual capabilities and the complexity of the project. The project team usually consisted of business representatives and developers. The chosen team or individual developer usually performed all tasks, such as understanding requirements and translating in IT language, software and database design, module development and testing. After the development was completed the application was then handed over to the users for acceptance testing which was obtained through continuous negotiation and back and forth for further changes.


Figure 1 – Initial approach to projects organization

Initially there was a boost in process automations, with increasing attention drawn and more requests emerging. However problems were soon to appear. Before the actual changes to the project management approach, 99 % of the projects portfolio was in delay. Some of the main disadvantages and few advantages of the initial approach are listed below:


- As some projects were initiated and followed by a...
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