Why does IT need projects?

For many years as an application development director I struggled with the balancing of large IT project initiatives against a lack of good project managers, limited desire from the users to devote that much time; and the impacts of those projects on the rest of the development team. We tried hiring more project more project managers. We tried buying expensive portfolio tools. We tried setting up a PMO.

Nothing worked. Every big IT project ended up not delivering on the desired goals and created negative impacts across the who application and broader business user base. Its easy to look at this and say well you didn't follow methodology x or best practice y or use the latest tool but I felt it went much deeper and that the era of IT projects is coming to an end.

So what is the answer?

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The great divide

The great divide. I continue to be amazed that with so much focus on agile and lean methodologies that on IT projects there is still an artificially created divide between employees working in the IT department and those working in the rest of the business. Teams are formed and lip service given to setting up cross functional representation with IT members and "business" members. Very quickly these teams break down into their IT components and the rest. Either it becomes an "IT project" and the IT team takes over and the rest of the team drops to the periphery and waits for a solution to be delivered. Or, perhaps worse,  the IT team walks always and leaves the rest of the team to come up with a solution outside of IT. Depending on where you sit it becomes very easy to point fingers at the "other" side and blame them for not coming to the table.

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