What is it?

Project management is a skill that goes hand-in-hand with IT management, and – largely because of IT –  has grown into a discrete discipline, profession and industry. Wikipedia defines project management as “the discipline of planning, organizing, securing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific engineering project goals and objectives”. PMI, the Project Management Institute, is widely recognized as the governing body that codifies the specifics of the discipline (primarily in the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK Guide). There are project management practitioners, firms, methodologies, organizations, tools and an official body of knowledge. Project management can be as simple “as “who does what by when” as prescribed by the Manager-Tools guys or as complex as the methodologies prescribed by the leading thinkers and professional service firms. The degree to which the IT manager wades in to the project management world depends entirely on the size of their projects and culture and practices of their organization.

Projects, of course, are typically considered temporary endeavors to create a unique something. They have a defined beginning and end with the latter being reached when the project’s objectives have been reached, or conversely when it has been determined the objectives cannot be reached or are no longer viable. Organizations define “projects” differently, usually by applying a rule such as costing $50,000 or more or requiring more than 200 hours. Regardless, those are arbitrary definitions to determine an organizational classifications. Thus project management can apply to any IT manager, regardless of whether they are working in an official project group or delivering status reports to stakeholders.

Projects tend to be a common if not predominate form of work in IT.

Many larger IT departments have create a project management office (PMO) dedicated to running and/or overseeing projects.

That’s the “what”; how about the “why“? Why should an IT manager care about project management?