3 Comments

Project Management Survival Guide Part I: Why Managing an IT Project is Different from Managing a Non-IT Project

by Phillip Smith

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Dirty Jobs then you’ve seen Mike Rowe get up close to some type of difficult and risky task. He usually reports on a sensationally dirty, greasy, goopy process that leaves him in need of a bath. While I suspect that he’ll never create an episode about IT project management, those of us in the industry know a dark secret: every day, we’re at risk of being slimed.

As IT project managers, we face risk and issues head on, often leading unproven project teams through difficult times to meet objectives set by a client with a limited timeline and budget.  We negotiate, we coach, and we deliver bad news.  We drive our teams like cattle and defend them like our firstborn.  We gather data that points to frightening conclusions, and then challenge ourselves to overcome.  We follow detailed processes and also make time for the soft stuff necessary to keep leadership, people, and clients synchronized. We’re surprised with ever-changing expectations, unforeseen expense, and impromptu meetings.  We travel, we sacrifice, and we deflect credit to the people that did the “real work”.

And when we tell our kids what we do for a living, they tilt their heads sideways and say something inspirational like “huh?”

At this point a sane person would ask, “Why do we do it?”  I’ll save that answer for a different article on a different day.  Instead, I’m going to explore some of the reasons this job is so demanding compared to other industries, and next week I’ll give you some suggestions for getting through its unique challenges. Continue reading