Do not fall into the "Not Invented Here" syndrome

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Don’t Fall Into The “Not Invented Here” Syndrome

Dr. Paul Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM Jakarta, Indonesia

Project management is nothing more than a set of processes, and when integrated and combined they result in a methodology. And those processes/methodologies, have nearly unlimited application.

There are 5 sets or groups of processes associated with project management:

1) Those processes which authorize or recognize that a project exists; (Initiation)

2) Those processes which enable us to identify what needs to be done and how to go about doing it; (Planning)

3) The actual execution of processes identified in the planning phase to produce results; (Executing)

4) Those processes where we compare whether the project is progressing in accordance with the plan (Monitoring and Controlling) and

5) The processes that identify whether what we did was done on time, within the allocated budget, and in substantial conformance to the specifications so that the project achieved the results for which it was undertaken. (Closing)

Based on observation and experiences with our clients, the Information Technology (IT) sector has been particularly reluctant to look at what others are doing in project management. They don’t appear to adapt or adopt "best practices" from those sectors which are more advanced or mature in order to increase the success rate of IT projects.

The two great sectors to use as benchmarks are medicine and commercial aircraft piloting. Why? Because both medicine and commercial airline piloting embody project management into their delivery systems. For medicine it is each operation or procedure, and for commercial airline piloting it is each flight from point A to point B. But more importantly from the perspective of IT, the comparative success rate in both medicine and commercial flight is extremely enviable.

So what practices do medicine and commercial aircraft piloting have that IT does not? First, there is the near total AUTHORITY of the doctor/pilot in making decisions. The flip side of that is they assume total ACCOUNTABILITY; both financial and professional. In the case of commercial pilots, they risk their own lives if they make a mistake.

Second, neither medicine or commercial piloting accept "average" practices. PMI's PMBOK® Guide states that the project management body of knowledge represents those skills, tools, techniques “generally recognized as good practice".

Third, project management as implemented in the fields of medicine and commercial airlines is NOT a stand-alone methodology. It exists and is successful largely because project management is fully and inextricably linked with Asset Management (departments that are responsible for the allocation and use of organizational assets to fund projects) and Operations Management (departments who generate revenues for an organization by handling the day to day work of the organization). Information Technology (IT) projects cannot be successful in any organization without the full cooperation of Asset Management providing adequate organizational resources and Operations management, as an internal customer, having realistic expectations.

Software project managers need to be willing to look outside their own IT world and learn what has been successful in other applications of project management, especially medicine and commercial airline piloting which enjoy significantly higher success rates than do IT projects.

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