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Project Management Keeps IT From Being a Victim of Success

Top IT shops have gone from being the No Police to the Frazzled Yes Guys. Project portfolio management can help stem the tide while keeping your hard-won reputation intact

IT departments are either the darlings or the despised of corporate America, and some practitioners would debate which extreme causes the most pain. Let's face it, nowa-days the reward for doing a great job is more work. Once an IT group earns the trust of business units, it must then survive the onslaught of new projects.

Good organizations, like good bosses, don't want you to suck in more than you can handle and implode in the process—our research shows high-performing businesses want IT to stem the tide. And make no mistake: The tide needs to be stemmed. In our recent survey of 986 IT and business managers, 75% said the IT workload was either heavy or crushing.

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Poll Results (click image for results gallery)
Smart organizations have gotten a grip on project portfolio management (PPM) and are willing to prioritize and, when needed, put bad projects out of their misery. Like the risk management we discussed last week, PPM is nothing new for mature disciplines. "We've picked up where construction and engineers have been for years," says John Nahm, an IT project manager for the state of Virginia.

In its simplest and most useful form, PPM involves setting parameters around, classi-fying, and prioritizing all projects. When you get right down to it, apart from geeky certifications and expensive software, PPM is something we do every day when we decide to go to work rather than fishing or pick up our children from daycare rather than heading to the gym first. Sure, doing IT PPM right isn't as automatic, but it's not rocket science, either.

Failure By Any Other Name

The highest performers in the IT world, as defined in a recent study by the IT Process Institute, are those most likely to cancel projects—at a rate double that of their lower-performing counterparts, in fact.

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