I have been practicing PMI focused Project Management in the IT industry for over 10 years. In this time I have worked in 5 different IT focused Project Environments spanning the Weak to Projectized environments. The decision on what type of support Project Managers have to deliver projects is always determined Top Down by the C or Senior level executive. It is no surprise to me that my favorite environment was a projectized one. This is the experience I will write of here.
The year was 2003 and IT was just starting to get over the dot bomb. I worked for a dot com darling that took advantage of a reissue of stock at its peak. Being cash and credit rich the internet marketing giant starting to acquire compatible businesses. I was part of such an acquisition and this is where my story begins. Working in the R&D department we prepared future releases of our best of breed e-marketing ASP. Engineering, QA and Project Management where based in Toronto, Executive in NYC and the Data Center in Denver. The engineering and QA teams ad augmentation in Pune, India. The company had several products and the one I worked on was mid tier with most of the revenue coming from the adserving powerhouse. This being the case it was never a challenge to get top level attention for our projects and the SVP and CIO for technology visited our Toronto office on a regular basis.
Project Management rested on the shoulders of two PM’s for which I was one. We alternated releases and used a waterfall methodology. The functional managers from each area would dedicate resources to our projects based on sizing that would occur at the begining of the project cycle. Although PM’s did not have any direct report there was a close relationship between the functional and project managers. This close relationship equaled a strong input into the performance review process for the PMs. In general this allowed for a environment that was professional, driven and a lot of fun. Looking back I can honestly say that I have never worked with brighter, interesting and caring people. There where attempts by the senior exec to develop cross functional project management methodologies. Meetings would occur across product lines but critical mass was never achieved and I left this great role for a more lucrative ERP focused job what I now believe to be a bit prematurely.
So in short my lesson learned from this experience was that a PM can get a great deal done so long as there is a direct feed into the performance review process. Whether that is a strong matrix or a projectized environment they both lend themselves towards addressing a power/responsibility gap that exists on many IT projects. Team members have that extra bit of drive when they know their PM can affect their yearly rating and eligibility for promotion.