ICT Projects Management: Learning from the Fields!

According to the Project Management Institute, a project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. Several managerial techniques and frameworks are proposed to facilitate a project management process. Some techniques used are: MBO (Management by objectives), PPBS (Planning, programming, and budgeting systems), PERT (Program evaluation review techniques) and the different variants of ISO (International standardization for quality). Project Management Professional (PMP) and PRojects IN Controlled Environments (Prince2) are two main credentials offered respectively by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and PRINCE2.

I posit that successful implementation of an integrated IS infrastructure requires LMT skills (IT Leadership, IT Management, and IT Technical skills). The purpose of this piece of work is to add a fourth component to the LMT skills: emotional intelligence (EI) competencies. EI can be conceptualized as two sets of competencies: personal (self-awareness, self-management) and social (social awareness and social skills). Each of these competencies has various attributes: self-awareness (emotional self-awareness, accurate self-assessment, self-confidence); self-management (self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, achievement orientation, initiative innovation); social awareness (empathy, organizational awareness, service orientation); and social skills (visionary leadership, influence, developing others, communication, change catalyst, conflict management, building bonds, teamwork and collaboration). A good ICT project manager should effectively develop LMTE competencies (IT Leadership, IT Management, IT Technical, and EI) in workplace.

Few words on leadership requirements…again!

Successful leaders help members of their teams establish a vision of what they want to contribute to the larger organization, their stakeholders, and to society. The resulting vision statement must tell people what is expected of them in the broadest sense, must provide a sense of direction, must energize them, stretch them and should serve as the basis of the organization’s strategies.

The leader then helps all members of the project team prepare for necessary change and helps them cope with the change as they struggle through it. He or she must motivate and facilitate necessary adaptive work by all members of the team. Highly successful leaders energize people, maintain focus in facing adversity, listen actively, communicate clearly and convincingly, know how and when to disarm conflicts, function as empathetic mentors and process-oriented facilitators, and adapt to change quickly.

Conceptually, a project management unit is a typical example of a rational system. Rational systems are collectivities oriented to the pursuit of relatively specific goals and exhibiting relatively highly formalized social structures. Two keys features characterize the rational system perspective: goals specificity and formalization. Within this type of systems, not only the normative structure is highly formalized, the behavior of participants is developed by formal role definitions and written rules. These organizations are instruments designed to attain specified goals. Specific goals provide unambiguous criteria for selecting among alternative activities. They also guide decisions about how the organization structure itself is to be designed. For instance, what tasks are to be performed, what kinds of personnel are to be hired, and how resources are to be allocated among participants.

Six Sigma, Total Quality Management (TQM), continuous improvement, zero defects, Quality Management System (QMS), and just-in-time (JIT) are all management systems that continue to make large contributions to the improvement and maintenance of quality internally in companies and across ICT projects.

I apply PMI's concepts and a combination of Taylor’s Scientific Management and Deming’s Total Quality Movement to manage ICT projects. I have described below few similarities and differences of the two models based on seven indicators: (a) division and concurrency of work, (b) use of systems, (c) control of business, (d) optimum systems, (e) finding of causes, (f) role of management, (g) control, (h) leadership, and (i) cooperation. Scientific management and TQM also differ in few following points: control of business, optimum systems, finding of causes, role of management, control, leadership and cooperation.

Whereas the scientific management theory focuses on the achievement of efficiency in the production processes, the total quality management suggests that quality is antecedent to efficiency. Although the ultimate objectives of the scientific management theory and TQM seem similar, the models and tools used to achieve efficiency are different. Taylor advocated scientific study of work to determine a proper day’s work, and called on management to implement the standardization of procedures to complete the work. Deming’s philosophy has its roots in statistical theory, which involves stochastic analysis of processes. The scientific management and TQM offer the same commonalities with regard to the selection of workers and the development of system to perform repetitive tasks. Scientific management is seen as a system that focuses on task efficiencies whereas quality management is described as a collaborative, people-centered process approach to continuous improvement.

Last, but not least. I have been designing and deploying global ICT infrastructure and data centers worldwide for the last 16 years. I learned from this experience that during the IT project planning phase, an IT project manager must address the impact of taxes, both direct (duties, processing fees) and indirect (foreign fuel taxes, tolls, facility fees), on the cost of procured materials and products. My administrative assistants and I spent endless hours haggling over freight rates, the cost of warehousing services, in-country transportation and delivery, and the purchase price of goods. More attention should also be paid to the hidden expenses that can inflate an ICT project. And the most pervasive of these are taxes, custom clearance fees, and demurrage fees. IT managers need to sit down with their transport and tax colleagues to minimize the global impact of all taxes on supply chain operations of ICT infrastructure.

Related topics…

Revisiting Goleman Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI)

Taylor’s Scientific Management Vs Deming’s Total Quality Movement

STAIR: A SusTAInability maturity Roadmap for IS projects

Personal Reflections on the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL): Learning from a Law Enforcement Agency.