IT needs better project management

Stephen Pritchard

This week, industry analyst Gartner has been holding its annual project management summit in London.

Effective project management remains a difficult area for many IT professionals.

Whether it is something as complex as the NHS' National Programme for IT, or the relatively simple issue of a systems upgrade that goes failed - such as the outage that affected Twitter earlier this week IT usually hits the headlines when projects run into difficulties.

Sometimes, a technical issue will come up that even the best-prepared team could not anticipate. As Greg Balestrero, chief executive of the Project Management Institute, and one of the keynote speakers at the Gartner event, points out IT is increasingly complex, especially as more of the value in an IT system moves into software.

The pace of change in the industry also means that IT managers constantly have to work to stay on top of their technical skills. This, combined with tight budgets in many IT shops, mean that not enough attention is paid to good project management, or to project management skills.

The ideal person to run an IT project, Balestrero says, has both IT skills, and project management capabilities that are "independent of IT certifications". Of course, some people take to these skills more easily than others, but they can be learned. "As soon as you start working on something other than code - something that is a project - you should start learning about project management," he says.