The phrase ‘IT-as-a-project’ doesn’t naturally come to mind when you think of how to go about managing IT. It has been born out of the experience of project managers as they have progressed through organisations. It has become an almost religious experience for those caught in its grip. The ethos revolves around the need for all change to be a project. Projects become the IT organisation, its life, actions and structure.
IT-as-a-project has benefits: a known cost, a direction of travel (though simple) and an approach generally agreed with finance and the business. It also allows costs to be understood and fixed annually.
This can be useful: during transitions of senior staff, or as temporary constructs when moving IT to 3rd parties. Long term though, it has some serious constraints:
- Each project, as a temporary construct, is inherently selfish. Using Agile badly increases this selfishness. Selfish behaviour within a business is rarely sustainable.
- Your organisational maturity may not allow or expect over-running projects and project costs. Projects, especially poorly run Agile projects, are running risk around cost vs scope. It’s common for projects to just stop when the funding finishes.
- The medium and long term cost of IT becomes uncertain. Projects seem to take over the IT day job and the function of IT seems to get lost.
- A form of Ponzi scheme is often formed. New projects feed the legacy and failings of older projects and the interoperability, security and governance problems selfishness causes.
- Significant loss of competitive edge. As a selfish construct, IT-as-a-project is not looking at the bigger picture, not looking at doing the right thing overall, just what is right for each project individually.
So, should you take IT-as-a-project as your IT strategy? It comes down to two simple thoughts:
- Are you looking for a simple strategy that only needs to be effective short-term ?
- Are you prepared to accept the cost and risk of the medium/long-term impact?
Read about the everything-as-a-service model here.