Many IT professionals look back on the 1990's as "the good old days." Money was flowing like water from an endless fountain and IT increasingly was viewed as the Holy Grail of business. Within a year or two of the dawning of the new millennium, things took a distinct turn for the worse, especially if you were in the IT field. All of those promising startup companies wilted as that endless fountain of venture capital and IPO profits ran dry. Reality set in and irrational exuberance gave way to rational moderation, which left many IT departments caught in a bind. During the late 1990's, they couldn't deliver on some of these pie in the sky dreams and they couldn't find enough qualified people to help them meet demand. Once the boom went bust, just the opposite was true. IT was asked to deliver more with lessless staff, less funding, and fewer resources. The tables had turned completely in just a few short years.
Many IT departments are facing cutbacks and outsourcing. In order to remain competitive, IT departments must add value to companies. If the IT department is seen as a cost center or a utility function, it's likely not going to get the funding, the resources, or the support needed to be truly effective. If all you want to do is maintain the corporate network and provide 99% uptime, then you may not need to worry about strategy. If you're interested in taking your department, your company, and your career to the next level, you'll need to begin to understand and contribute to the larger corporate vision. Strategy is the road that will take you there. If you're anxious to get right into the heart of IT project management, you can head right into Chapter 5, but do so with caution. These first four chapters lay the foundation for IT project management by helping you understand the environment that surrounds all IT projects. By understanding the environment, you'll be better prepared to define, plan, implement, and manage any project that comes your way.