Archive for the ‘Critical Success Factors’ Category

A set of frameworks to aid the project manager in conceptualizing and implementing knowledge management initiatives (Liebowitz & Megbolugbe, 2003)

Montag, Juli 14th, 2008


Liebowitz, Jay; Megbolugbe, Isaac: A set of frameworks to aid the project manager in conceptualizing and implementing knowledge management initiatives; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 21 (2003), No. 3, pp. 189-198.

Liebowitz & Megbolugbe describe three frameworks which can be used by practitioners to think about Knowledge Management (KM) approaches. Firstly the outline Wiig’s framework which describes the knowledge activities cycle (Conceptualise –> Reflect –> Act –> Review –> Conceptualise…) and the connected workplace structure (Business processes, [used in] Knowlege items, [bound to] organisational roles).

Secondly they present the Knowledge Management Pyramid and thirdly they derive a new implementation framework. Liebowitz & Megbolugbe’s framework connects the KM Intentions and Needs with the KM Solution via 4 knowledge objects/critical factors. (1) Knowledge taxonomies, (2) organizational culture, (3) user feedback on usability and functionalities, and (4) alignment with business strategy and senior management committment.

Frames and inscriptions: tracing a way to understand IT-dependent change projects (Linderoth & Pellegrino, 2005)

Montag, Juli 14th, 2008


Linderoth, Henrik C.; Pellegrino, Giuseppina: Frames and inscriptions – tracing a way to understand IT-dependent change projects; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 23 (2005), No. 5, pp. 415-420.

Linderoth & Pellegrino analyse sense-making in organizational transitions which are driven by IT projects. Sense-making of a new technology, they argue, happens on an individual level at the user and can not be dictated by some higher authority. The authors use two approaches to analyse how individuals make sense of new technology and how the sense shifts over time. The Actor-Network-Theory and Theory of Social Construction of Technology.

Actor-network theory (ANT) explains processes by which ideas are accepted, tools and methods adopted. There are two major methodologies on how to explore these network processes. One is following the actor (mostly by interviews, observation) and the other one is to analyse inscriptions. Inscriptions are artefacts of knowledge created by the actors. Linderoth & Pellegrino follow this second approach and they define the inscription as „desired program of action or pattern of use that someone inscribes into a medium as artefact.“ They find, that for IT most users are inflexible in how to use the technology, but users are highly flexible when and in which situation to use the technology.

Social Construction of Technology explains the counter party in this process – the user. Linderoth & Pellegrino define Technological frames as „outcome of organisation’s member interaction and sense-making of technology“. Furthermore they introduce the notion of dynamic shifts of these frames over time. [Thus adopting a more post-structuralist view on Social Constructivism].
Furthermore they use Social Construction of Technology to outline the 3 key points users engage in sense-making about; (1) the nature of the technology, (2) the strategy of the technology, and (3) the use of the technology. All three frames need a reasonable inter-connection. Furthermore Linderoth & Pellegrino argue that discrepancies between frames of different user groups lead to project failures.

Looking at the dynamics of frames the authors identified one dominating element in each project life stage.

  • Project start-up: Nature, Strategy, Use
  • Project in action: Nature, Strategy, Use
  • Project re-birth: Nature, Strategy, Use

Moreover Linderoth & Pellegrino show that a following the importance of context in building frames. [Thus following the ideas of the learning theory of Constructivism] They show that the sense-making processes to create the frames shift from a global discourse to a local discourse; and thus from a global context to a local context.

Development of the SMART(TM) Project Planning framework (Hartman 2004)

Freitag, Juli 11th, 2008

Smart Project

Hartman, Francis; Ashrafi, Rafi: Development of the SMARTTM Project Planning framework, in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 22 (2004), pp. 499-510.

Hartman & Ashrafi present a new trademarked framework for Project Planning. The idea behind this framework is to ensure that the project is SMART. Strategically Managed, Aligned with corporate strategy as well as stakeholder needs, Regenerative [sustainable] for the project team, and Transitional, which stands for smooth execution of changes to the project.

What is new? Four tools are presented by the authors (1) the SMART Breakdown Structure (SBS), (2) the priority triangle, (3) key questions, and (4) RACI+.

The SBS is basically a new take on the work break down structure. On the top-level is the project mission which is then broken down into the key stakeholders‘ expectations on the first level of decomposition. The next levels of decompositions break the expectations down to tangible deliverables. Furthermore they add a parking lot and an explicit list of exclusions.
The priority triangle extends the ABC-priority to 6 permutation of pairs of 2 priorities, e.g., Time (1st) and Cost (2nd); or Quality (1st) and Time (2nd).
The 3 key questions are (1) What is the final deliverable?, (2) What is everyone this project praising for?, and (3) Who decides the first two questions?
Finally the RACI+ chart (derived from the classical RACI „Responsibility, Accountability, Consult, Inform“-Matrix) clarifies the roles of each letter, R=responsible, A=action (does the work), C=consults (=has input, needs to be asked), I=informs (=reviews the output) and adds a new letter S=sanction (=signs-off acceptance).

Framing of project critical success factors by a systems model (Fortune & White 2006)

Mittwoch, Juli 9th, 2008

IT CSF Research and systems framing

Fortune, Joyce; White, Diana: Framing of project critical success factors by a systems model, in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 24 (2006), No. 1, pp. 53-65.

How much overfitting does a model need? Fortune & White reviewed 63 studies on critical success factors of IT projects. And they identified 27 of them, the picture shows the success factors and in brackets how many publications were finding proof for it.
The Top-5 are: (1) Senior management support, (2) Clear and realistic objectives, (3) Strong/detailed project plan kept updated, (4) Good communication/feedback, and (5) user/client involvement.
Furthermore Fortune & White identify the 9 sub-systems typically found on an IT project and they sort the success factors accordingly. Nevertheless, DeMarco’s question (posted earlier in this blog) pops back into my mind: If only one thing succeeds – what should it be?

No Project is an Island (Engwall, 2003)

Mittwoch, Juli 9th, 2008

No Project is an Island

Engwall, Mats: No project is an island – linking projects to history and context; in: Research Policy, Vol. 32 (2003), No. 5, pp. 789-808.

I read this article for it’s research implications. Engwall starts with the argument that a project’s success is not independent of the project’s context and the organisations history of previous projects. There is one great point in his argument: Projects become increasingly difficult if they are innovative. BUT innovativeness of a project does not depend whether the project manager has done something similar before, it depends on how new the sponsor thinks his project is.

Engwall’s implications are clear: extend the scope of research time wise and department wise. Furthermore he makes his stand for an open systems approach in researching projects.

Are we any closer to the end? Escalation and the case of Taurus (Drummond, 1999)

Dienstag, Juli 8th, 2008


Drummond, Helga: Are we any closer to the end? Escalation and the case of Taurus; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 17 (1999), No. 1, pp. 11-16.

The Taurus Project is a great case study. First of all it is a failed IT project. It took the project some 500 million GBP and 5 years to fail. And secondly it was a visionary project overhauling the IT of the London financial market. Drummond examines the route to failure. In this article she applies Escalation Theory aka Escalation of Commitment or the Vietnam War Syndrome as it was labelled in Freakonomics.

What did Drummond see? A destructive progression, i.e., one sub-optimal decision leading to another sub-optimal decision, that leading to another sub-optimal decision and so on. This effect was reinforced by an effect first found by Kahnemann & Tversky. They showed that gradual deterioration in a condition is usually underestimated and goes unnoticed. [Therefore addicts need an intervention]

What are the lessons learned?
Avoid the Garbage Can Effect. Don’t let the solution dictate the problem. Especialy if you have a keen vendor.
Make progress tangible. On Taurus experienced managers where struggling with controlling and managing the project because progress in IT systems‘ development can not be touched.
Engage in Second-Order Thinking. First-order thinking is solving the problem with the usual problem solving patterns, aka ‚more of the same‘. This does not help in deteriorating conditions. To break that vicious cycle second-order thinking is needed, which basically examines the assumptions of given decisions, plans, requirements, solutions.
And lastly balance power and responsibility. Politics and outside over steering destroyed the power and responsibility balance in this case. Project Managers had huge responsibilities but no decision power whatsoever to really solve the problem. Even if they saw recognised the problem and asked for project cancellation earlier than it was acknowledged by the project board.

Balancing strategy and tactics in project implementation (Pinto & Slevin 1987)

Dienstag, Juli 8th, 2008

Balancing Strategy and Tactics

Pinto, J.K.; Slevin, D.P.: Balancing strategy and tactics in project implementation; in: Sloan Management Review, (1987), pp. 33–41.

This article is a very classic. It is one of the most cited articles on success factors in research papers on IT projects. Pinto & Slevin outline 10 critical success factors (most of them seem common sense today), which are make-or-break factors on any given project

  1. Communication
  2. Project Mission
  3. Top Management Support
  4. Project Schedule
  5. Client Consultations
  6. Personnel Recruitment, Training, and Selection
  7. Technical Tasks
  8. Client Acceptance
  9. Monitoring & Feedback
  10. Trouble Shooting