Information technology project managers

According to the industry report, last year every company had at least one Information Technology (IT) project failure. The reason for failure given was these projects were NOT managed by skilled project managers. As more businesses are using IT to gain competitive advantages, they hire more IT workers. The more IT workers they hire, the more IT project managers they need, but there is a shortage of people with this skill so some companies are hiring business managers without IT skills to manage projects and that is why they have many failures.

An industry analyst explained: “Software project management is an important skill but most universities do not teach that. Academicians do not have experience to teach and make the class practical for students. You cannot learn software project management from books as it requires practices and experiences. Many businesses hire a business person to manage software projects which is a mistake; if they do not have experience in software development and proper training, they cannot do it. That is why so many IT projects failed.”

A company owner added: “The shortage of skilled IT project managers is only one reason; the other is technologies are changing so fast even skilled IT managers may not be able to catch up. In the past, information systems are mostly hardware, operating system, software applications and network but today systems also include all types of applications for mobiles, big data, cloud computing etc. As businesses move to adopt these new technologies, the number of projects for these areas increases. Without skilled IT project managers who are trained in these new technologies, projects will fail.”

The shift to new technologies puts a burden on IT groups and Chief Information Officers (CIO) to find well trained IT project managers. As project managers’ roles expand, they are expected to take on additional responsibilities beyond the fundamental scope of managing projects. Although the fundamental remains on the planning, managing and monitoring but now it also includes communication across many groups, motivating teams and ensure project is achieving the business value to the company. Today IT is no longer a supporting function anymore but the strategic factor that determine success or failure of the whole company. Each IT project manager must also be a business smart person who can identify business opportunities to increase productivity, reducing wastes, improve performance and profits of the company as well as increase the company’s competitiveness in this information age.

One of the solutions being proposed is to improve the trainings at university level for students to have both technical and business skills to manage IT projects. In the fast changing working environment, information systems managers play a vital role in the implementation of technology for the company. They must plan, coordinate, and direct all IT activities in collaboration with other business managers. They must determine the business goals of each IT project and then implement technology to meet those goals. They must develop requirements, budgets, and schedules for these projects and manage them from development through implementation, working with their IT workers, as well as clients, vendors, and consultants. As their responsibilities increases, so are their salaries and demands.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University