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Skills of Successful IT Project Managers. Nannette Napier Mark Keil Georgia State University Felix Tan Auckland University of Technology. Agenda. Motivation Research Questions Literature Review Methodology Initial Analysis Future Analysis Anticipated Contribution. Motivation.

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Skills of successful it project managers

Skills of SuccessfulIT Project Managers

Nannette Napier

Mark Keil

Georgia State University

Felix Tan

Auckland University of Technology


  • Motivation

  • Research Questions

  • Literature Review

  • Methodology

  • Initial Analysis

  • Future Analysis

  • Anticipated Contribution


  • 28% success rate for IT projects [Standish Group, 2001]

  • Project management (PM) skills critical to improving success rate on IT projects

    • Experienced project manager one of top 3 critical success factors [Standish Group, 2001]

    • Lack of effective PM skills listed among top five risk factors [Schmidt et al., 2001]

Research questions
Research Questions

  • What are the attributes and skills of highly successful Information Technology Project Managers?

  • How do IT PM skills differ from generic PM skills?

Literature review
Literature Review

  • Limited research to date

    • Jiang, Klein and Margulis (1998)

    • Day and Bobeva (2003)

  • No comprehensive study regarding the IT PM skill set


  • Interviewed 19 IT Project Managers

    • 3-20 Years of Experience as Project Manager

    • Subjects asked to compare successful and unsuccessful IS Project Managers

  • Used Repertory Grid Technique (RepGrid) [Tan and Hunter, 2002]

Repgrid technique
RepGrid Technique

  • Subjects randomly select 3 cards from a stack of 8 index cards

    • 6 cards: IT PMs they identify

    • 1 card: “Ideal” IT PM

    • 1 card: “Incompetent” IT PM

  • Constructs are elicited from subjects

    • “With regard to the skills of successful IT PMs, how are two of these PMs the same and yet different from the third?”

Repgrid technique1
RepGrid Technique

  • The elicitation of constructs was repeated with each interview subject until s/he started repeating ideas

  • Typically, subjects identified 6-8 individual constructs

  • Interviews continued until saturation was reached (i.e., no new constructs emerged)

Advantages of the repgrid technique
Advantages of the RepGrid Technique

  • Relevant project manager skills emerge naturally from participants

  • Structured interview results in a ranked list of attributes for subsequent analysis

  • Major constructs are identified and written down during the interview

Initial analysis
Initial Analysis

  • Our 19 Interviews generated a total of 40 unique constructs

  • We are in the process of coding for common themes (i.e. Meta Constructs)

Example of a meta construct
Example of a Meta Construct

  • Communication

    • Fostering external communication

    • Communicating downward

    • Communicating upward

    • Direct communication

    • Listening

Future analysis
Future Analysis

  • Complete meta construct analysis

  • Compare these results to the skills reported in the project management literature

Anticipated contribution
Anticipated Contribution

  • Identify critical skill areas for IT PMs

    • To help guide curriculum development

    • To aid in hiring decisions and personnel development

  • Provide foundation for measurement instrument to assess IT PM skills

  • Lay groundwork for future research on relationship between IT PM skills and project success