IT Project Management – A Lost Skill Set?

I have gotten myself on what feels like way too many RSS feeds regarding topics regarding IT and Information Technology - however, I'm a learning addict so probably won't stop.  Anyway, over the past serveral months, I have been bombarded by IT project management horror stories and advice on how to better manage these programs.

The question I began asking myself centered around the topic of IT project management ...

Is successful project management more of an art or science?

Working inside an IT organization and seeing the large number of projects that are running concurrently consuming resources ($, people, capital), it is clear that employing best practices in the area of program and project management can be a strategic competitive advantage to the business.  Delays on one project can have significant negative ripple effects to other projects - resulting not only in delayed delivery of promised business capability but also in IT operational costs and head count requirements.

I liken this to air traffic control and the dependencies that are created both at individual airports and between airports when the schedule gets delayed.  There are too many times when my flight has been delayed because the flights in another airport hub were affected by weather or poor airline performance or some other reason (I refuse to point fingers, but there are some airlines that I have lost faith in)

The challenge for IT is that if we are not able to keep our project schedules on track, not only will the cost to run IT go up, but the business will lose faith in IT, resulting in the three O's (increased oversight, more overhead or likelihood of outsourcing).

Inside Intel IT, our IT management team places a core emphasis on project management and streamlining operations.  We have implemented a grass-roots training program called Triple E in IT (Embedding Efficiency and Effectiveness) where all IT employees are trained in ways to identify and remove non value add activities from business process.  Since inception, this program has trained over 60% of our IT employee population and created more that 400 ideas inside Intel to improve organizational efficiency.  Additionally, the Intel IT organization organization is the corporate lead for the Lean Six Sigma program and we have successfully implemented this methodology on several IT sustainability projects.

In the end, I can't provide you any advice on IT best practices for project management. I'm not qualified.  However, this week, I met someone inside Intel IT who is.  Jeff Hodgkinson has 30+ years in project/program management and is currently the Intel IT Internal Cloud Program Manager.   Jeff also received PMI's 2010 Distinguished Contribution Award.

Maybe Jeff can answer the question if project management is more art or science.  Ask him here or share your thoughts with me below and I'll drag him in.

Chris