One reason why some huge IT projects fail…

When reflecting upon reasons why IT projects fail, it is not difficult to come up with tons of excuses masked as reasons.

But I think one of the fundamental things that can go wrong with IT projects, and which often result in failure, is a lack of mutual trust between (enterprise) architects (EAs) and project/program managers (PMs). 

The role of a PM is to be responsible for the leadership and communications within a team and with the stakeholders and sponsors of the project. A PM establishes goals, and monitors progress towards delivery.

An EA is rather responsible for visioning, identification of adequate (not necessarily perfect) solutions to problems, and alignment of the different aspects to that vision.

PMs can rely on decades of experience within their field of managing a project, EAs can not. PMs often transpose linear thinking (manufacturing style) into project parts and deadlines, without accounting for the rather more artisanal and less linear (craftsmanship and creativity are keywords here) way EAs work. Hence, the two wolds collide.

When PMs decide on their own without collaboration with EAs about scope, modular decomposition, order of delivery, and deadlines, the project plan more often than not reflects a distorted version of the reality. Project failure lurks just around the corner.
When EAs do not trust PMs for project management tasks, constantly questioning each and every project decision,  the project more often than not turns into a state of paralysis.

Yes, most EAs can easily guide projects, and most PMs have no clue about architecture at all. But that doesn’t matter. Who p*ss*s the most far is a childs game.
When PMs trust the EAs fully to collaborate on vision, goals, logical partitioning of a project into building block, and realistic time estimates, and EAs trust PMs fully to work on the leadership and communication aspects within a project, and adhere to the goals set forward, most projects will largely benefit.
Such a trust relation leads to a dual leadership approach, each focusing on what they do best.  

At the end, it is only delivery that matters, not the ‘I have followed procedures’, or the ‘I have the deciding power’ that counts. When multi million $ projects fail, the blaim attitude doesn’t solve anything.

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~ by gvanhoutte on July 12, 2012.

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