Skills to Look for in Project Managers

Today I read a brief article describing the eight skills to look for when hiring an IT project manager. The headlines caught my attention and I'm sure this was the purpose. While the eight skills (conflict management, technical knowledge, business awareness, communication skills, management skills, risk assessment, ability to speak technology, and global experience) are all important skills this list is certainly a narrow view of the criteria to use when hiring a project manager.

A more complete view of project management skills should be taken from the Project Management Institute's Project Manager Competency Development (PMCD) framework (I also have my own conceptualization here). While not specific to individual skills, the PMCD framework better outlines all of the areas of proficiency an effective project manager should posses. From this framework, a set of skills can be derived and prioritized.
The skills mentioned in the article mostly describe the industry-specific exp…

CIO Reporting

During my MBA last semester we discussed the reporting structure for the Chief Information Officer (CIO). This topic of reporting structure typically emergeges during our IT alignment discussions where I argue the importance of reporting structure on alignment. In this discussion I posit that the CIO should report to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) rather than the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operations Officer (COO), or another C-suite executive. When I make this case I am often asked how frequently CIOs report to the CEO and I'm unable to give estimates. However, after today, I am now able to respond to this question.

During the third quarter of 2014 CIO Magazine conducted a survey and one of the questions posed related to the executive reporting structure of the CIO. The results published this month indicated that 44% of CIO report directly to the CEO. The results also indicated rather than reporting directly to the CEO, 20% of CIOs report to the CFO, 13% report to t…

Lessons in IT Alignment

In my MBA class we begin with a discussion of a model called the Strategy Triangle. This model illustrates the formation of an organization's strategy through the convergence of a business strategy, organization strategy, and information strategy. The point of this model is that strategy is not simply developed from the business strategy but rather it must be developed using opportunities and limitations of the organizational strategy (people, structures, and processes) and the information strategy (data, information, and supporting systems).

Today I read a great article describing the turmoil at J.C. Penny's and the toll taken on their information technology projects. Reading this article from an IT leader's perspective and using the lens of the Strategy Triangle model it is easy to see, in hindsight, that this turmoil was bound to happen. I see two main issues: frequent changes in leadership and the inability to collaborate to develop a cohesive strategy.

First of all t…

Project Management Presentation

Next week I'm giving a presentation titled "The Value of Project Management" for the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. This presentation is open to the public and is aimed at individuals and organizations who wish to become more familiar with project management and want to introduce a project management practice scaled to fit their needs. Here is a brief description of the presentation:
Any industry and every organization experiencing change has a need for projects. Projects are used to drive change and innovation initiatives in an organization. Over the years, practices for leading these projects have evolved into an increasingly mature field of project management. In this workshop the purpose and value of project management is discussed and common project management practices are reviewed. Based on an understanding of modern project management practices a plan to introduce more formalized project management practices is developed. If you are interested in attendin…

Building and Managing Effective Virtual Teams

In my MBA class tonight I plan to discuss virtual teams and how information and communication technologies enable organizations to create a virtual team of people who work together on a project without working at the same location. Through the use of web conferencing, instant messaging, collaborative office automation tools (ie. Google docs), and the emergence of so many other collaborative tools or collaborative features in our tools we are now able to work as effectively as if we were co-located. Members of our teams can work in any location across the world where an Internet connection is available. We can form collaborative teams and have these teams work effectively as if they were located in the same office space.
However, just because technology has provided us with tools it doesn't mean that we are now instantly granted the ability to effectively work as virtual teams. There are many challenges in correctly applying these tools, building the trust needed to work effective…

The Human Economy?

I just finished reading a Harvard Business Review article where the author argued that, just as we previously moved from an agricultural economy to a industrial economy and from the industrial economy to the knowledge economy, we are now moving to a new type of economy. This new economy is the human economy where our own humanity is what makes workers valued. In this new economy, the ability to apply our analytical skills is no longer valued but rather value is derived from our ability to demonstrate compassion toward the stakeholders and make decisions that may contradict our typical business goals.

Valuing compassion and our ability to be connected to humanity certainly sounds noble but I don't agree that this is now the new economy. Organizations are currently focused on realizing the value of the data they collected for the past two decades (or more) and found value mining this data for valuable insight and improved decision making. We also currently value employees who are a…

Beyond Business Process Reengineering

I'm preparing a lecture for my MBA students on information systems and the support of business processes. The purpose of this lecture is to illustrate how information systems have enabled the organization to move from siloed departmental information systems to integrated systems that support the entire business process across departments. This transformation really took hold in the 1990s and was associated with the act of business process re-engineering (BPR). This BPR effort served as a means to reconceptualize the firm from departments into processes and to recognized the value of having information stored in a single and centralized location.

I conducted a little research to support the material from the book in order to find the next step; to determine what happens when organizations no longer find ways to continue to increase efficiencies through BPR. In search of the next step I came across a Harvard Business Review article describing a potential next step for moving beyond…