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Expert Reference Series of White Papers

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Top 10 Reasons All
IT Professionals
Should Learn
Project Management
Copyright ©2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. 2
Top 10 Reasons All IT Professionals
Should Learn Project Management
Tim McClintock, Global Knowledge Instructor
Introduction
Ever hear someone say this?
“Everything is going just fine… And as far as we can tell… we’re on schedule, on budget, and
everybody’s happy… Why would you ever want to go and CHANGE ANYTHING???”
Ever hear anyone say these?
“We’ve never done it THAT way before…”, or
“We’ve 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 Knowl-
edge Network, 2005, adapted, 2012).
“And we believe it’s” working…”
So the question I’d 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 that’s been proven to be useful, proven to be successful, and proven to be repeat-
able? 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 there’s still room for improve-
ment. 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 profes-
sional 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. 3
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
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One part of the “velocity and speed” aspect is that things seem to be happening at a faster pace than ever be-
fore. This is especially true of change. We see this all around us - the rapid pace of change. The question eventu-
ally 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. 4
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 op-
portunity 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 satisfac-
tion, 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. It’s 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
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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. 5
• “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
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4. Higher Salary
In a comparison of salaries, leaders competent in project management, especially Project Management Profes-
sionals (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. Op-
portunities for advancement are made even tighter by a huge number of middle-aged (and later) baby-
boomers 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.”
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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 or-
ganization; 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 fnd themselves reaching a point where they must make a choice to
Copyright ©2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. 6
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, knowl-
edgeable, 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. Today’s 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. It’s one thing to achieve project success. It’s quite another to do so in a repeatable, sus-
tainable 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 moment’s 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 profes-
sional’s 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. Com-
bined 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 require-
ments, lack of understanding of the requirements, poor planning, poor schedule management, poor cost man-
Copyright ©2012 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. 7
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.
Footnotes
1 Busin ess @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System, Grand Central Publishing (1999), ISBN-10:
0446525685.
2 Thom as, Janice L., Ph.D. and Mark E. Mullaly, PMP, “Researching the Value of Project Management,” Inter-
think Consulting Inc.,PMI Research Conference, Warsaw, Poland 2008.
3 Thom as, Janice L., Ph.D. and Mark E. Mullaly, PMP, “Researching the Value of Project Management,” Inter-
think 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 orga-
nizations 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.