Managing information technology projects: Applying project management strategies to software, hardware, and integration initiatives written by James Taylor is an insightful book that has been published by the division of the American Management Association in 2003. This 274-page book provides a deep analysis of how the projects are run. It mainly looks into the challenges that an organization faces when implementing a complete information technology project. Over the years, Taylor has written several books on project management. In the current book, however, he delves deeper into the specific type of projects, namely information technology. The modern technological revolution makes the areas covered in the book relevant and worthwhile to read.
Book Content Review
The main ideas are guided by the tendency of the organizations’ 50% of all information technology projects to experience low performance and an eventual spending of about half of the company’s budget. The book highlights the step-by-step process that such projects undergo and lists some of the errors and difficulties that could lead to the poor performance of a project. Several media houses have already highlighted the problem and the contributions of this book have been adequate. Different aspects that are known to derail projects include the organization’s lack of cutting edge ideas, necessary skills and technical knowledge needed to maneuver in the market. While these aspects are vital and relevant, they are equally convoluted and eliminating them in the course of the project is usually not easy. The book provides different approaches that firms could use to ensure that the challenges are identified early enough and correct remedies can be put in place before they become real impediments. Once they have grown, they are no longer manageable and the budgets as well as timelines can no longer be met. However, these major problems are avoidable through the use of the correct tools, as the book proposes. Therefore, the need to carefully classify different phases of a project is identified and analyzed in the book.
Organizing the Project Team and Developing Accurate Project Plans
This part develops a critical analysis of the preparation of the actual teams that are entitled to carry out the projects. The identification of a team provides a springboard for the project. One of the main problems that a firm may encounter while implementing a given project is the use of the wrong team. The book explains the reasons why a tight team must be assembled and why it has to be both intellectually and technically qualified. The piece, however, fails to explain why non-technical individuals should be included in this team. An omission of such person would lead to the lack of correct project objectives, which might in the long run cause poor planning. The book provides a detailed description as to why the correct plans should be used from the onset emphasizing that the failure to do so will eventually lead to negative performance in the course of the project. Generally, proper planning is a striking aspect that is thoroughly analyzed in the book. It highlights different points at which a project might fail to perform as expected due to poor planning. When roles are not allocated well, replication of duties and underutilization of resources may occur. These good that set the tone of the book and the defined general project management concepts.
Management of Risks Associated with IT Projects
Secondly, the book analyses the risks that an IT project might face during its implementation. Many firms fail to bear in mind the importance of this step when undertaking an information technology project. The book identifies both technical and logistical risks that every venture is exposed to, but it does not list correct strategies to ensure that these risks do not materialize. While the author provides correct approaches to the identification of risks, he fails to emphasize the importance of analyzing these risks deeply at every stage of the project (Taylor, 2003). Technology is known to have detrimental effects when some of the identified risks are actualized and allowed to occur. He also fails to connect the risks to the project planning and personnel identification, since these concepts are often intertwined. At this point, wrong allocation of roles could be a risk in itself that could be detrimental to the budget and time needed to complete the project. The failure to identify the connection underscores the importance of the first step in team selection and project planning. However, the fact that this stage has been mentioned is appreciable and worth noting. The author should have made a connection between this stage and the rest of them.
Engineering of Systems
This phase of a project is the most important one, because it provides the organization with the technical considerations that will help solve strategic problems. This stage remains integral over the entire course of the project. Poor engineering of the systems would mean wasting of resources and time in creating the first two steps. Taylor (2003) expresses the importance of this stage for the whole organization, rather than just the project at hand. The book critically highlights at this point the process of how the technical team should ensure that the right methods are adopted and used. This is the point at which the objectives should be clearly established. Despite the emphasis on different aspects of system engineering, the book is outdated on this front. The modern technology can handle most issues that are raised in this work, because they are already monitored. The development of new methods with a goal to solve the problems highlighted in the book has been on the rise in the recent years. However, the book generally covers every section effectively as well as connects it to the associated risks, the people who develop it and the original plan of the project. Therefore, from the general perspective, the book remains relevant, but the technical aspects explained in it may not be helpful for the modern technologically developed world.
Customer Service and Requirements
Taylor (2003) notes that most organizations undertake projects that eventually help them with customer service. While this is true, the book fails to explain that there are many other forms in which information technology projects could be used. The use of the word ‘customer’ in the book may be erroneous and should be replaced by ‘client’. All in all, it has provided the readers with an insight of how to serve the clients in the best manner. It should also have highlighted that some projects are created for the managers, who use them internally to monitor and control employees and general operations within the organization. Similar to the engineering part, here the book does not provide a decent evaluation of the technical aspects, because modern technological projects often have dashboards and other BI and BA systems that are used to ensure proper interactions. In this regard, therefore, the book lacks information and fails to provide up-to date data, which means that the author should consider a new edition.
Project Monitoring, Control, Closeout and Assessment
The book claims this stage of a project to be very important, because it allows to evaluate its success or failure. By the time the project reaches this stage, the resources and time invested are either termed as successful or useless. The book provides an adequate overview of the need to ensure that this stage is evaluated accurately and the resources are used efficiently to avoid wastage. The book evaluates these steps well by showing the importance of close out and eventually closure before the project is wound out. Taylor (2003) highlights well the importance of this phase, because poor implementation can lead to a possible collapse of the entire project. It would cause the resources invested in the project to be wasted.
The book structure is strikingly efficacious. It provides a precise chronology of the different components and phases of the information technology project. It takes reader through the different stages of every project starting from planning and ending with actual implementation. This structure is effectual because the book aims at highlighting some of the issues that make IT projects ineffective, especially with regard to timing. Such book structure provides the reader or user with adequate background knowledge as well as the understanding of every step of the project and all the possible errors. It also ensures that the inaccuracies of one stage are not carried forward to the next stage of project implementation.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Taylor’s Managing information technology projects: Applying project management strategies to software, hardware, and integration initiatives is an absorbing book that covers several areas that most managers have remained blinded in for decades. The author mentions some of the most common errors and failures encountered by firms while making their decisions concerning information technology projects. This book is not only relevant to scholars, but also to the managers of different organizations. It not only dives into the theoretical aspects of information technology, but also discusses the practical application of these aspects. One will not very often find a balanced combination of operative application and pragmatic theory in a book, because most writers over-concentrate either on theoretical or practical aspects. Therefore, the integration of these two approaches in the book ensures that the piece related to a wider audience, hence delivering more value to the readers.
All in all, the relevance of this book at a time when every organization is integrating information technology in its operations to reduce cost and increase efficiency cannot be downplayed. However, this book faces challenges in terms of its timing, since some of the concepts that used to be relevant in the field of information technology during the publishing date in 2003 are no longer relevant. Most of the outlined issues have been adequately catered for by the advanced business analytics and informatics that are used in the decision-making process in the course of a project. Furthermore, the automation of processes has solved many problems. Due to the fast-pace evolution in the technological world that has been happening since 2003, Taylor may be required to update some of his ideas and incorporate newer technologies into his research. Therefore, it might be time he writes a second edition of the book, and this advice can be extended to most authors who focus on technology in their research. This step would be useful for all relevant people, including scholars and corporate managers. In case a new edition is undertaken, it would be advisable to keep the format of the book, because it provides excellent transitions between ideas and phases and makes it easy to follow. It is also recommended to keep and update the last part of the book that covers the implementation section of an information technology project. It will enable a manager to successfully incorporate the concepts discussed in this research work.