Nearly 80 percent of IT organizations report the lack of enterprise project management capabilities is a key IT workforce issue, according to “Best Practices in Project Estimation and Performance Management,” a new report released by META Group, Inc. To foster these increasingly important skills, the report maps strategies for building a project portfolio performance culture and best practices that help drive continuous performance improvements.

"Some organizations have focused efforts on training and certification, but finding and growing skilled project managers is only part of the solution," said Carole Macpherson, META Group vice president and lead author of the report. "Top-performing IT organizations recognize the need to solve IT project performance issues starting at a higher level."

According to the report, "one-off" or heroic project efforts consistently lead IT organizations to poor performance. Lack of coordination across resources is extremely detrimental to successful implementation of the complex projects and programs that are now the norm in most organizations.

"Instituting project management as a strategic competency within an organization requires new methods, tools, and performance metrics," said Macpherson. "The often adopted management-by-objective style is not sufficient to create project performance consistency. We believe a management-by-project approach, combined with these new methods, helps generate consistent performance and limit employee burnout."

The report details best practices in the project and performance management areas, including:

  • The top 10 issues facing project managers and methods to minimize their impact on project performance.
  • How key inter-related IT functions such as enterprise architecture, infrastructure planning, systems engineering, and asset management affect project performance.
  • Establishing an enterprise program management office that will facilitate crucial coordination and governance functions and oversee project management development .
  • Employing risk-based project selection criteria to support portfolio analysis, establish priorities, and measure value.
  • Applying proven project estimation techniques and approaches to appropriately set confidence levels and expectations for the project team and throughout the IT organization.

"IT managers want to move their organizational capability from a state where a project's success is determined by the individual efforts of its leader to a repeatable process with consistent, broader leverage across the IT staff," said John Luc Alarcon, META Group senior vice president and director of Data Services and Published Research. "The report provides a model for project portfolio management and best-practice advice and techniques for establishing a project performance culture. It also emphasizes project estimation and performance management control, which are vital to managing the business value of IT projects and where IT organizations often have most difficulty."

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