IT Project Management : Role vs Reality

Aditya Krishnan
Published on: 1st November 2015
The examples related to the term 'Project Management' are often associated with projects in IT industry. Due to the rapid growth and advent of newer technologies, IT sector has always been in the forefront of all the analysis related to managing projects.  The famous book by Nicholas on project management which has been a bible for all budding project managers and professionals emphasises the roles and responsibilities of a project manager clearly.

When we read and understand the role of a project manager (PM) who is primarily responsible for the success of the project, we all get an impression that the position of PM requires a candidate who has good domain knowledge, strong interpersonal and communication skills apart from great leadership qualities. In theory, a project manager is the person who has the overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of a project. He is the one who is responsible for making decisions both large and small, in such a way that risk is controlled and uncertainty minimised. Every decision taken by the project manager should be taken in such a way that it directly benefits the project. The team members expect the project manager to support, communicate effectively and lead from the front by taking ownership of the project.  
IT Project Management : Role vs Reality
Role of PM in IT projects
In IT projects and engagements, many IT services organisations have an offshore PM who is responsible for delivery, providing clearances, approvals for any project related requests raised by the team members and he acts as a bridge between onsite account manager/PM and offshore delivery team. The onsite PM will be managing the deliverables at the client end and will take up any delivery related issues or challenges faced by the offshore team with the client. IT professionals at offshore work in an environment with a lot of constraints and restrictions. They have to depend on the PM at offshore for all the approvals, challenges faced by them in execution due to technical issues, motivation and support in case of any escalations due to different perceptions w.r.t actual requirement and the deliverables. The PM both onsite and offshore are expected to be strong leaders, effective communicators and take ownership to resolve any problem which may surface.

Based on the interviews and discussions with many senior IT professionals and interactions with industry experts the following things are observed:
In many IT projects the PM is no where to be seen apart from few calls (so called calls with onsite team) . He/She will come into the picture in case of any so-called escalation or delivery related issues. The most funniest part is that without understanding the context they straight away jump into conclusions and put the blame on the team members. When the going is good no PM will bother to appreciate, encourage or value the team members. If there is an element of slightest of discrepancy they are experts in making mountains out of molehills by looping in managers and other senior officials from various respective teams.
This way they would hide their failures and put the ball in other business unit's court. This opportunity is also used by them to loop in their seniors and portray themselves as so called saviours of the project. When we look at IT industry as a whole most of the professionals are of the opinion that their respective PM's  possess  poor communication skills and technical knowledge, many of them have no management skills and are highly incompetent. The most hilarious part is that they run away from responsibilities and have no accountability whatsoever in even providing the necessary clearances/approvals which fall under their purview. They expect the team members to follow up and provide the clearances/approvals instead of themselves for new entrants/team members. With reference to an article carried out by a famous newspaper that the role of PM's in IT will undergo a major change in the coming years is indeed a food for thought.  Hope the above perspective from various IT professionals will give a new dimension for all of us to think and re-imagine IT sector as a whole. As many professionals say it is indeed a different story behind glass buildings and plush walls.
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