From the 1950s to the 1980s, a widely held view of information technology (then often referred to as data automation or data processing) project management was that the project team should strive to do exactly what they planned on time and within budget. The problem with this view was that project teams could rarely meet original project goals, especially on projects involving new technologies. Stakeholders rarely agreed up front on what the scope of the project really was or what the finished product should really look like.
Time and cost estimates created early in a project were rarely accurate. Beginning in the 1990s, most project managers and top management realized that project management is a process of constant communication and negotiation about project objectives and stakeholder expectations. This view assumes that changes happen throughout the project life cycle and recognizes that changes are often beneficial to some projects.
For example, if a project team member discovers a new hardware or software technology that could satisfy the customers needs for less time and money, the project team and key stakeholders should be open to making major changes in the project. All projects will have some changes, and managing them is a key issue in project management, especially for information technology projects.
Many information technology projects involve the use of hardware and software that is updated frequently. For example, the initial plan for the specifications of the server described earlier may have been cutting-edge technology at that time. If the actual ordering of the server occurred six months later, it is quite possible that a more powerful server could be ordered at the same cost. This example illustrates a positive change.
On the other hand, the manufacturer of the server specified in the project plan could go out of business, which would result in a negative change. Information technology project managers should be accustomed to changes such as these and build some flexibility into their project plans and execution. Customers for information technology projects should also be open to meeting project objectives in different ways.