There are inherent tensions between innovation and the focus on process in modern project management (PM) Efforts to manage processes increase short-term efficiency but may decrease the capacity to harness opportunities for innovation and so have detrimental longer-term effects on organisational prosperity. This paper investigates the ways in which these tensions affect information systems (IS) projects. Two illustrative projects demonstrate how these tensions may be managed and the resulting organisational outcomes. The paper makes three contributions to IS project management: a finer-grained view of innovation than is currently evident in the PM literature, exploration of project structure and temporal orientation as key dimensions of these tensions, and the introduction of the concept of ‘contextual scope’ where acuity to the larger organisational context affects the likelihood that opportunities for innovation are grasped by the project team.