Defining, communicating, planning, managing and controlling any project or programme of work within agreed parameters is generally pretty challenging, and has been particularly difficult to master in the field of IT where project success records are still embarrassingly low. Unfortunately introducing geospatial elements to a project do not make things any easier and even good IT Project Managers struggle to come to terms these new challenges.
Within the context of Enterprise IT, geospatial toolsets and methods are still relatively immature, it is difficult to find good designers and engineers who can produce good and reliable specifications and estimates and risk assessments. The significance of the data and systems integration aspects of a project often take the Project Manager by surprise and can be the most complex (and time consuming, and politically dangerous) areas that they need to deal with.
The migration of spatial data from multiple sources and formats can be technically very challenging; data quality issues will invariably surface and yet can be prohibitively expensive to correct (but can the project succeed if they are not?). Furthermore, if the data will be migrated from existing systems then the timing of the cut over may be crucial – systems need to be developed to enable data to be migrated, enhanced and cut over such that the new system begins with the best data but also the legacy applications are operated in sync until the cutover.
One of the main allures of geospatial technologies is the apparent ease with which diverse datasets can be integrated (overlain) to discover new relationships and intelligence. The project team must, however, have a good working appreciation of the risks to spatial data quality and impact on derived information. Combining data that has been collected at different scales or filtered to serve different purposes, etc. can all impact the value of a dataset for a specific purpose. Litigation involving poor quality composite datasets (e.g. missing telecommunications tower from aerial navigation chart, etc.) are growing in number and is not an area where a Project Manager wants to stray unwittingly.
On top of these issues, there are relatively few geospatial standards and their adoption is by no means either consistent or widespread across the industry. The GIS landscape is still dominated by a number of niche technologies, each or which has its own history and flavours thus requiring a degree of specialist knowledge on the part of the Project Manager in order to understand impacts on their project and to be able to communicate effectively with technical stakeholders.
Our Project Managers have significance real world experience in guiding geospatial projects from inception to deployment. Whilst we are advocates of agile approaches such as Scrum, we are familiar with the project control methods (such as PRINCE II) as well as the pitfalls and best practices to enable projects to be designed and managed predictably, efficiently and successfully.