I’m just returning from a week+ long vacation. It was very enjoyable, thanks for asking. Noticing that I have not posted for a bit, I had to take some time to settle on a topic. Usually, I keep a little task note with ideas as they come to me and then blog on them. This time when I went to that particular cupboard it was empty.

So, living in the moment, let me talk about a meeting I had today that sparked some thought. One of the developers at my work put in a service request to initiate a project. The SR described the project as having to do with the movement of a portal application from one environment to another.

So, I schedule a short meeting with the requestor to see what else is involved. The first questions he asked was whether I thought this was a project or not and how do projects usually get initiated. Well, I didn’t have a ready answer to those questions. I figured I’d find out more about the work at hand (stalling as I thought of an intelligent answer.)

After he outlined the work activity and he explained that he did not know of the business driver for the move and that the capacity of the destination machines was in question. Only two people would be involved in the effort. No procurement or outside services would be required.

To me, this isn’t a project. Now, now. You may say “Well, does it have a start and end date? Is it a unique endeavor? blah, blah, blah.” The traditional definition may apply, but to me, the assignment of a PM may layer unnecessary overhead on what would most likely be a successful activity by itself. I could trim a good deal of fat off the project management methodology that we are maturing and still would probably just get in the way.

Do you find yourself in this position? I’ve seen a couple of projects come my way where I had to ask “What value can I add as a project manager?” That is what it’s about, right? Value.

[Note: Do not read further if you are afraid of reality.]

Face the facts, projects go on with out project managers. Us PMs believe (and there are some outside supporters – so I’ve heard) that using our processes, tools and skills we can help increase the chances of project success (however your company may define that.) At the same time, I’ve seen a number of endeavors that are being run by “team leaders” that definitely qualify as projects due to the traditional definition as well as size and complexity. I’m not intimately involved, but the projects appear to succeed. Do they bump along? I’m sure they did, but so do my projects.

Anyway, my point isn’t against the use of Project Managers. I believe that our profession can be a valuable contributor to a company’s success. The reality of how to concretely define which IT projects require project management is what continues to evade me.

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