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Developments in IT Project Management


With new IT implementations the demand for IT project managers is increasing. Agile methodologies support collaboration with distributed teams for creative problem solving. Domain expertise matters for managing project. The Internet of Things, cloud, big data, and cyber security will continue to dominate the IT landscape. Project managers have to pioneer IOT initiatives, be prepared for the influx of data and ensure that deliverables from their projects are secure says Chris Breckon, Digital Business Development Manager at Telegraph Media Group. The future of projects will be through entrepreneurial project managers.

The project management timeline, an infographic from Telegraph Courses, explores the past, present and future of project management.

InfoQ interviewed Chris Breckon about their investigation on project management, developments in managing IT projects, the importance of domain expertise, agile methodologies and managing projects, and trends in project management.

InfoQ: What made you decide to investigate project management to come up with this project management timeline?

Breckon: As we work very closely with project management course providers and we have a high volume of interest in project management courses we wanted to provide an overview of the project management industry so that we could show how it has changed historically to present day and why it is of such importance in the future.

InfoQ: Can you elaborate about some of the major changes that have happened in project management?

Breckon: Leadership and project methods have changed over time, from the historic inhospitable conditions which were authority driven by hard labour, deprivation and starvation which is shown on the timeline to more modern methods of team work that is creatively managed, more focussed (specialised) and takes into account project delays which were not accounted for historically. Project work is being distributed more effectively also, in the example of the Shard, the entire spire was pre-assembled in three storey sections on an airfield in Yorkshire whilst construction took place on the Shard in London – distributing construction work across regional locations helps to effectively bring a project together to meet deadlines.

InfoQ: Projects in IT is one of the sectors mentioned to watch out for in certain countries. Can you elaborate why you think this is the case, and why in these countries?

Breckon: For many countries I believe this is due to the upsurge in demand for data driven projects in IT, with new IT implementations more PM’s are in demand to lead these projects. In places such as Nigeria, Internet users are on the rise and the Internet itself has opened up a plethora of IT opportunities, there are complex regulatory issues in place but organisations are looking to project practitioners who can manage the risks and conduct analysis, IT project managers have these skills so investment is being made to push these skills.

InfoQ: IT also mentioned for Brazil, India and United Kingdom. Can you tells us more about what is happening in those countries, and how that will affect managing IT projects?

Breckon: Well in terms of Brazil, Brazils IT services industry has grown by 8.7% in a 12 month period due to the expanding numbers in R&D centres which support offshore projects, the growing awareness of Brazil in the corporate world is why Brazils IT sector is one to watch. Overall, Brazil is a good case study for project management in terms of success and challenges, where you can learn from and even they are still learning from their project management implementations for the World Cup event that took place in 2014. The cup was spread over 12 cities, they had to build seven additional stadiums and that came with project challenges. Although it was of economic value to hold the World Cup many project delays, mistakes and facilitation problems took place and is a great case study if you look into it further.

As for India, according to the ManpowerGroup India have the strongest hiring intentions globally. Government planning is devoting its time to more resources for IT and infrastructure projects and so PM’s are required to bring efficiency to government projects. The IT industry is fuelling economic growth and this has been down to energising the higher education sector especially in engineering and computer science. When you look at the market growth in energising the future especially with entrepreneurial talent, tech start-ups are set to increase from the current 3,000 up to 11,500 tech start-ups by 2020.

In the UK, the economy has been speeding up and is looking is further grow in 2015. More tech companies are planning to hire in 2015; KPMG had reported two-fifths of all UK tech companies planned to hire by this period in time. With all the IT change, change management is a key focus here. PM’s are strong in this change management area and so are best placed here.

InfoQ: Which development do you expect to characterize future IT projects?

Breckon: The future of projects will be through entrepreneurial project managers. Proactive development, entrepreneurs get that "bigger picture" and that is the way the future is heading towards them. For the project management role this means entrepreneurs will bring added value, more on the job learning, increased productivity, transformation by nurturing and living the idea of the project, maximising ROI and predicting new trends etc….

InfoQ: Do you think that domain expertise matters when managing projects? Can you elaborate why?

Breckon: Yes I believe this matters – having specialised skills when managing projects are important; industry skills, PM skills, solution skills, technical skills in a specialised area is more focussed and critical to the success of development programs. Every person should have a clear understanding of what is being done, why it is being done and why it is important in that moment. There are certainly benefits to having domain knowledge, project managers with solid domain knowledge are able to quickly grasp if the team’s estimates on schedules are realistic and achievable which will mitigate risks, also a PM with domain experience will be more valuable to a company so this would secure a PM’s position.

InfoQ: Can you elaborate on the status of agile methodologies in project management? What do you expect to happen in the near and far future?

Breckon: Agile methodology is cost effective and all about adapting, practices like this will continue to find new ways and better ways of building/growing in the future. Near future you are looking at the domain knowledge and expertise, growing on a larger scale in fields and sectors. I expect the far future to be more collaborative with distributed teams with creative problem solving. This is already existent however in the future expect creativity to be critically assessed as a performance measuring tool. In addition, the level of engagement will improve in teams, perspectives will broaden. Watch for the shift in ideas, mind-sets will be a key thing to watch in teams.

InfoQ: Are there any other trends in project management that we should be aware of? If so, how do you suggest to deal with them?

Breckon: As the Telegraph Courses project management timeline shows there are many trends but in terms of any other I would say Cybersecurity – security will be put more on the project managers to ensure deliverables are secure, the "Cyber Security PM". The Internet of Things, cloud, big data, and cyber security will definitely continue to dominate the IT landscape. IOT, provides a data rich future, this makes more things measurable and analysable, therefore it opens up new project possibilities – projects will grow substantially and PM’s need to start preparing for the influx of data that will change their work. It will be the PM’s job to preserve the vision of IOT whilst addressing realities and pioneering IOT initiatives through specialised PM’s in each area.

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