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The Art of the Pivot

COMMENTARY ARTICLE

Challenges and Opportunities for Project and Program Managers in Today’s Fast Moving API-enabled Cloud Computing Sector

By Donald R Hammons, UT-Dallas MBA (2004)

San Francisco, California, USA

 


 

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the opportunities and challenges which co-exist in an API cloud enabled Information Technology (IT) world.

Introduction

Project and Program Management in the fast paced IT world of cloud computing represents one of the greatest opportunities for professional development and career trajectory we’ve seen in decades. The complexity of the IT eco-system combined with CIO and business leader demands that IT spend and projects correlate to direct revenue expansion, cost reductions and quality of analytics creates a significant opportunity for capable project and program portfolio managers. In parallel, there are significant challenges with such a role and this article will explore both.

Opportunities in the API-enabled Cloud Computing World

As a fan of Dr. Harold Kerzner’s approach to project and program management which speaks to the complexities and systems approaches to planning, scheduling and controlling project performance, I have to say these considerations apply more today than ever before. While we’ll leave the rationale behind the arguments of waterfall, hybrid and agile systems approaches to another day and paper, the opportunities that exist today for project and program managers have never been higher.

The concept of ‘opportunity’ for project managers rests with the definition itself. Perhaps it is defined based on a number of factors which may include the seniority or experience level of the manager, experience with prior project delivery performance (e.g. were they successful), the level of career seniority the manager views themselves to be at, and other human factors. There are also altruistic definitions of opportunity to be considered by project and program managers such as the impact upon society their projects hope to achieve, the derivative results a successful project may provide to an organization (e.g. increased revenue, increased analytic-based insights), etc. These are all valid perspectives. Thus, the old adage of “on-time, on-budget performance” may in and of itself not be sufficient as the only qualifier for the successful manager as a target outcome.

Most successful project managers would agree that defining critical project success criteria during the initial project charter setup with sponsors is a key milestone during the planning or agile Sprint 0 setup phase of a project. Post project retrospectives as such may in fact point ‘back’ towards those initially defined success criteria and may form a basis for sponsors to agree that a project, once delivered, in fact met or exceeded the expectations defined proactively at the outset. This is a powerful reference tool for project managers and should not be minimized.   While tried and true structural elements of successful projects have a ‘look and feel’ that lends a PMO audit to forecast project performance, the process in and of itself may not sufficiently meet the needs of CIO’s in today’s API-enabled fast moving cloud computing arena. In fact, more is needed.

My experience with prior projects, especially those early in my career, was focused on a central thematic delivery model aimed at a single platform. For example, during the buildout of the internet as we now know it, much of my early project management career was spent on projects which were ring-fenced by technological boundaries. Projects which involved single platform solutions such as SAP, Oracle, backhaul communication switches, PBX and voice communication systems, and long-haul fiber backbone technologies were all central themes for delivery on early projects. While foundational to today’s internet and mobile-first computing world, those foundational projects while valuable from a career experience perspective, did little to shore up the essential skills needed to meet today’s CIO and business leader expectations when it comes to a fast moving multi-faceted API-enabled cloud computing eco-system. In short, today’s project and program managers have a larger opportunity to impact an organization’s eco-system than ever before. As such, career opportunities for early and mid-career project and program professionals have never been higher. The project and program managers of today will potentially be tomorrow’s CIOs. Why is this true?

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About the Author


Donald R. Hammons, MBA

San Francisco, California, USA

 


Donald R. Hammons
is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas MBA program (2004). Don has lectured at the University of Texas Global Executive Forum and his co-authored paper on the collaboration potential of social platforms as a catalyst in scientific achievement was presented at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. Don has enjoyed a 20+ year career in the information technology sector of the U.S. economy and he’s presently the Chief Executive Officer of Cloud Strategy firm Perigee360, Inc. and Chief Strategy Officer and Vice-Chairman Advisory Board of Directors for San Francisco-based start-up mxHERO (http://www.mxhero.com/). Don resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be reached at: [email protected]