IT Project Analysis and Leadership
While the main sources of risk may be intuitive to people with project experience, the concept of “structure” is important in this chapter. The authors provide a useful definition of structure, but the concept is slippery, especially as we approach projects that may seem highly structured but change along the way. How would we know when a project has little structure? The bottom line is that current work processes are going to change. The difficulty for us IT geeks is that we have little familiarity with business processes, and so may have little sense for how big a change is being considered. Only the people in the functional area have a sense for how big a change is in the offing, and they may be getting mixed signals because they are unfamiliar with the technology that will be used.
As a result, projects that may seem highly structured may only be seen for the low-structure beings they are late in the project.
While we each may be working on one project, certainly many more are underway at any given time. That summation of projects – the portfolio – has its own risk. One high-risk project may be doable, but too many may be too much for the talent in the firm, and for the technology.
On the other hand, no projects with any risk is a sign you are not attempting to use advanced technology, or more insidiously, you are not challenging yourself to try new approaches to work. If your IT shop hasn’t had a flop in years, you have to wonder if you are getting your money’s worth.
I love this part of the chapter since it not only gives an excellent list of the project management tools available, but also explains why the list may be useless or even harmful in low-structure situations. The five characteristics of adoptive methodologies on pages 594 and 595 are good descriptions of emerging methodologies.
1. Describe a low-structure IT project underway at your company. What management methodology is being used? Is it one of the five listed in 594 and 595? How open is the team about the risks inherent in this project?