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Gabriel Cogo (Brazil) - Project Management: Do You Know the Risks?

Recent academic studies about IT projects have shown that most projects are considered unsuccessful, and most of the project's managers aren't fully aware of the risks they're handling. This is considered normal by most companies, but for me it's alarming information. The amount of money, people involved and time spent should make IT projects a priority for companies, but the fact is that most resources are wasted on incomplete or flawed products that generate more costs. Why does this happen?


Problems begin with the conception of the project, since the analysis of the requisites for the budget must be prepared in advance Most of the companies claim that every project they run is based on a project management framework. In most cases this can be PMI®, or other known frameworks like COBIT, ITIL or SCRUM.

For auditory purposes, all companies claim that they follow a framework to handle risk, but in practice it all turns out very differently. There are several different types of risks involving a project, whether it be a small low budget project, or a project that involves a great deal of employees, most ignore the importance of a framework when considering project objectives. For example, most of the projects are considered successful because they deliver the product within the deadline, not considering the fact that in most cases they weren't quite ready yet. But, for a project manager to say that his project went over budget and isn't ready, it's worse than realizing he is delivering something that may appear to work now. In time it will reveal a lot of flaws, mostly because in this case, it's not going to be his responsibility anymore.


Another big issue regarding IT projects is communication. It's a subject that has already been discussed to exhaustion, but it's easy to see how it influences projects on a daily basis. This is mostly because of the gap between the technological understanding of the client, and a lack of business understanding by the IT crew. So, when the product is delivered, the client complains that it isn't quite what it was suppose to be, but forgets that the problem could be in the conception stage. It's a hard problem to solve, and it's compounded by the fact that most of the people involved during the latter stages of the operation, who use the software in their daily jobs, aren't quite involved during its conception.


The main reason why I have raised this concern, is because every IT worker is going to face, if not one, but a great deal of projects. As much experience as it can give, participating in a failed project isn't helpful at all, but it is still very hard to mitigate all the risks that can decide the success or failure of any given project. Yet choosing to leave most of the risk management outside of the project's scope isn't going to produce successful results.

 

Gabriel Cogo is studying for a Masters in Systems Information and Decision Analysis at UFRGS and has been working as a Sales Analyst for Gerdau SA.

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