Project Management

A Separation of Convenience

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at

Business leaders often leave the management of the “technology stuff” to the IT organization, and most IT people are just fine with this ownership by default, given bad memories of uninformed estimates, scope explosions and excruciating delays. Unfortunately, this separation of convenience often includes the business side's abdication of the change management that is required to actually benefit from IT projects.

The relationship between information technology and the business units it supports has been a rocky one at best. There is no question that most information technology organizations have come a long way from being the nerds holed up in the back office. In many organizations, IT is seen as an essential enabler, with CIOs sitting at the executive table and projects to introduce new technology solutions being viewed as mission critical. Technology plays an increasingly inextricable role in how business defines and delivers its services.
What is most interesting about this general development, however, is the gulf that seems to remain between the two entities. As an illustration, a task force review produced in July 2005 attempted to ascertain the causes of failure in IT projects in the Ontario provincial government. Among the many observations and recommendations contained within the report are that project ownership often comes from IT rather than the …

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