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Do You Always Need Both Business PM And Technology PM For The Project?

The life cycle of a project include initiation, planning, execution, controlling and closing processes. Generally, the role of business project manager stops after the business requirement document (BRD) is finalized and signed-off. But the role of an IT PM starts from the initiation phase till the closure phase of the project.

The need of both the PMs varies from project to project. There are some projects where there is very little requirement of technology and the IT PM is assigned for a very short duration. But then there are projects where both the PMs are required throughout the project. And both roles are needed because of their individual benefits. But ideally they should have the ability to transition and support each other as and when required.

The problem is that some organizations think every IT project needs a business PM when in certain circumstances they are not adding any value to the project but end up as hindrance. A dedicated business PM assigned on larger projects (programs) will have less overlapping tasking, but at the same time this would increase the project budget.

If the IT scope is limited to single work stream like Infrastructure setup or implementation then it could directly be managed by a business PM. Many financial and non IT companies outsource their infrastructure to core IT companies.

The probability of ownership conflicts increases when an IT PM’s reports to business PM. The solution to this problem and to run the show with minimum issues is that, both the PM’s reporting to a program manager. Another solution is to apply OPM 3 model (organizational Project management Maturity model).  Basically the idea of a truly generic PM withy domain knowledge is important. It will depend on the project of course. A business project with a fairly routine, straightforward IT component is probably fine with just a business PM.

The best combination would be a business PM with a strong IT background, one man playing both, as long as the project do not require solution architect or any other skill which the technical PM might be lacking. The business PM and IT PM work together as partners. Remember that most projects are started by the business therefore, it is necessary to have a business PM to take care of the benefits of the project, to draft and take ownership of the business case that captures the reasoning for initiating a project or convinces a decision makers or steering committee to take action and to co-ordinate the implementation of the project results at the business sides. The IT PM takes care of the IT changes together with the IT suppliers and the test team. Some people do not agree with the idea of having multiple project managers on a single project. According to them there should be only one PM, while other PM can support and manage sub projects. Technology PM can have the business PM as a key stakeholder and act as a customer to provide business inputs, acceptance test the outcome.

A Business-PM can suffer important lacks of high-level-IT-knowledge to be able to determine timelines, changes in project plan and other technical constraints. Whereas he would be the best person to review if the company’s goals and objectives are met or not. But the fact remains that a business PM cannot manage an IT project alone effectively.

In case of two project managers the probability of conflict related to resources, schedule and priority would be high. The Business-PM would have to seek for justification/clarification from the IT-Specialists to be able to manage the project and so it just leads in loosing time and money for the company. Project management is a methodology. It is not critical to successfully guide a project and be the subject matter expert at the same time. If you are spending too much time as the SME while being the project manager, the responsibilities as the project manager are at risk of suffering. Rather than playing the dual role as SME and Project Manager, the PM needs to appoint a separate SME with the work necessary on the project.

IT projects usually share similar terminology, and IT resources are used to working with some methodology (Agile, ITIL, PMP, Waterfall, Prince2 and so), schedules, documentation, and time registering. None of the IT Projects on the other hand, is a piece of work from the very beginning. PM had to plan and document a lot before the actual implementation starts. This include “translate” the terminology, objectives and needs to make things work.

At the end, business PM and IT PM are not exactly the same thing even though there is a lot in common. It is recommended that they would encourage each other and try to learn from each other.

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