Friday, September 19, 2008

An Inside view of IT Project Management

Session by Mr. Rishi Agarwal, Business unit head of a leading Fortune-500 financial institution

Taj mahal, one of the 7 wonders of the world, built in 1631 AD arguably one of the best pieces of symmetric architecture in the world. An amazing success story when it came to project management. Is building a Taj mahal tougher or completing an IT project a tougher job?

This was the first question put across to us by Mr. Rishi Agarwal. Few hands were up in a jiffy. Someone echoed the thing I had in my mind, “IT Projects were easier Rishi”. Rishi smiled at us and in a composed tone he asked “is that so people?” Most of us nodded our heads. A hand out was passed on to every student present for the session which read “The Standish Report “– Chaos. We were given 30 minutes to go through the report.

On reading the Report, I found the statistics to be staggering. 1995, In the United States more than US$ 250 billion were spent each year on IT application development for approximately 175000 Projects. The Standish group report shows that a staggering 33 % of the projects mentioned above will get cancelled even before they get completed, 52.7 % of the projects will cost 189 % of their original estimates. What a cost over-run ? Staggering isn’t it?

31st minute: Rishi again emphasized on the same question “Is IT project management easier people?” we were confused. This is where we started. We as a group analyzed why Project Taj mahal was successful and concluded that Project Taj had Proper processes put in place and people who worked to build the Taj were reporting to one head, Emperor Shahjahan and the fear of death if the processes were not followed meticulously made the project successful .

Our soul searching on project management with Rishi continued, he put the next question to us “Is software development, engineering or an art?” People in the class room had differences of opinion. We finally arrived at an answer that software is an art, but for that to become engineering, lot of processes has to be put in place. Managing these processes efficiently is actually project management. Rishi also emphasized that from 1995 the situation in handling projects has improved and there are comparatively lesser failures in projects and it is greatly due to proper project management.

With his vast experience, both in India and abroad, Rishi kept churning out different practical situations in project management in an astonishing fashion and emphasized the importance of proper management of projects. Three hours were over and it was a Sunday early morning class. There was never a dull moment. The class was more of a discussion forum with lot of practical inputs rather than just yet another one to many information sharing session.

“Meet you next Sunday, Fellas", Rishi left igniting a vibrant thought process amongst us. We had a great introduction about project management in IT. We enjoyed each and every moment of the session and to have a person of the caliber of Mr. Rishi Agarwal teaching us the whole course on every aspect of IT project management in the coming weeks definitely thrills us. No wonder we call it learning for the real world !

Contributed by R. Raghav Kousik , IT Varsity

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