Project Management

The Return of the General(ist)

Al Taylor is an independent IT contractor in Ontario, Canada.

IT project management professionals would likely all agree on one thing: there are never enough talented people to satisfy the needs of the organization. They would likely also agree that this shortage negatively impacts the project team’s ability to deliver value to customers. The IT profession may in fact have enough people to satisfy the aggregate demand of the economy, but at any given time in any given organization, there may be a shortage of talent due to budget constraints, turnaround rates and the steady-state needs of the organization.

The purpose of this article is to suggest that one approach to overcome talent shortages involves the return of the IT generalist. By IT generalist, I mean the resource that can execute several of the core activities of the IT project delivery model: talk to business stakeholders to identify requirements, as well as design and implement technical solutions.

Full disclosure: I have been in the business since the ’70s, and much of my experience has been developing and leading development teams on the mainframe. The generalist I have in mind is the professional who back in the day often had the job title of senior programmer/analyst. This person had a broad range of business and technical skills.

The basis for this article is the assumption that this type of person can exist in today’s environment. I look to the …

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