Guide aims to boost success rate

The British Computer Society has published a book on project management as part of a government-backed campaign to improve the...

The British Computer Society has published a book on project management as part of a government-backed campaign to improve the success rate of IT projects.

The book, Project Management for IT-Related Projects, is a general guide to IT professionals seeking to develop their skills as project managers. It outlines the principles of project management and also provides detailed guidance on planning, managing risks and communication between the main people involved in a project.

The guide is designed to alleviate some of the much publicised problems surrounding IT project management in both the public and private sectors. For example, in July the House of Commons work and pensions select committee reported on public sector IT project disasters.

The select committee inquiry, which heard evidence from Computer Weekly, made recommendations for improving the success rate of IT projects.

One was the need for government departments to recruit enough skilled project managers and to enter discussions with professional bodies to agree a set of recommendations for professional qualifications in IT project management.

But the billions of pounds wasted by badly managed IT projects cuts across industry sectors, research shows.

Fewer than one in five of all IT projects in the UK can be considered successful, and failed projects lead to billions of pounds being wasted on IT systems, according to research from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the British Computer Society.

In-depth research into IT project management, commissioned by Computer Weekly and published last year, painted a brighter picture. It found that the management of UK IT projects was better than previously thought.

But there is still plenty of room for improvement. The survey - carried out by Chris Sauer and Christine Cuthbertson of Oxford University's Templeton College - also found that only 16% of IT projects hit their targets on budget, schedule and scope.

Project Management for IT-Related Projects is intended to complement a new foundation certificate in IS project management set up by the BCS' Information Systems Examination Board.

BCS chief executive David Clarke said, "There has never been a more critical time for IT professionals to ensure their project management skills are qualified and well defined.

"Findings of our joint report reveal that the current high volume of large IT project failure can be directly attributed to a lack of project management skills within an organisation," he said.

There is no shortage of courses on project management but the BCS believes its new guide and three-day qualification is different because it will be useful to staff in and outside IT.

Copies of Project Management for IT-Related Projects can be bought from BCS Books at York Publishing Services for £18. Send an e-mail to: [email protected]

Click here for the Computer Weekly research on project management

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