Good IT project and program managers are in high demand. In a recent Computerworld survey, 44% of IT executives reported that they plan to hire project managers in the upcoming year, with Project Management coming in as the second highest skill set in demand for the year after Programming and Application Development.

These types of developments are perhaps unsurprising since information technology now underpins virtually all areas of organizational activity in the developed world and is frequently the main vehicle underlying efforts to achieve improved efficiencies, reduced costs, increased revenue and business. Many IT projects are designed to support mission critical business objectives; represent major investments for the organizations concerned and cause considerable damage when they go wrong.

Unfortunately, IT projects do not have a good success record, a factor which is perhaps driving the increased demand for competent project managers, but at the same time does little for the reputation of this group. To avoid the costly fallout of failed IT projects, it is time to take on board the growing body of evidence that people related and other “soft” skills are at least as important – if not more important – as technical expertise in contributing to effective project management.