Although the ability to manage projects is important in many different industries, perhaps none have seen such a substantial increase in its significance in recent years as IT, said Professor John Turchek of Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“Projects are not unique to any one industry,” he said. “There are professionals in every industry that have to manage projects. We in the IT area are no different. We develop information systems in a project environment. If there’s ever been a discipline that must master project management, it’s definitely ours.”
Project management, until recently, was seldom—if at all—a part of computer science curricula at colleges. Conversely, most project management curricula at universities focus on fields like engineering, construction and the military, but not IT. To help bridge the gap, Turchek and others developed the master of science in information technology project management degree program at RMU.
“What we’ve done, in essence, is focus in on the Project Management Body of Knowledge, but we wanted to use information technology not only as the target for these, but also the vehicle to get across the Project Management Body of Knowledge,” Turchek said. “This is where other programs typically do not go. They’ll introduce project management concepts in a construction or engineering environment, something that is not IT.”
The RMU information technology project management master’s program, which is classroom-based, requires 30 course credits, including 18 credits of IT project management (ITPM) core courses and 12 credits in a declared specialization area. These specialties include accounting, information systems, e-commerce and business administration. In addition, the program has an applied research/internship component, which facilitates the application of what is learned in the classroom to actual situations and problems.
Mastering the necessary knowledge and skills to manage new initiatives is crucial, because between 300,000 and 500,000 IT projects are started every year, Turchek said. According to him, studies show that the rate of IT project failures thus far has greatly exceeded the successes. The reason? Organizational leaders believed they could take any manager, regardless of educational and professional background, and assign him to lead an IT project— a kind of “If you’re a manager, you can manage anything” philosophy. “Non-IT managers trying manage an IT project is not a good thing,” he added. “You want to have your IT people be able to manage your IT projects. At the same time, these IT professionals better have knowledge of project management.”
For more information, see http://www.rmu.edu/msitpm.