Archive for the ‘IT Project’ Category

Investing Smarter in Public Sector ICT (VAGO (Ed.), 2008)

Mittwoch, September 17th, 2008

 Investing Smarter in Public Sector ICT

Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO): Investing Smarter in Public Sector ICT, Melbourne 2008.
Download available here:

The VAGO has recently published (if I remember correctly it was end of July) a 6 step best practices guide on how to invest into ICT. The best part – it’s written in a clear, non-techy language. Readers don’t have to be the master genius of IT to put this into practice. They break down the ICT project flow into 6 distinct steps, which are
(1) Understand & Explore
(2) Identify & Refine options
(3) Decide to invest
(4) Procure a solution
(5) Manage delivery
(6) Review & Learn

The nice thing in this guide is that it lists a lot of best practices, things to avoid, and gives meaningful examples. Although most of the recommendations sound fairly basic (It’s basic not trivial!) the hard part is actually doing them. I would never ever have expected that benefits and costs are not calculated cross agencies, or that someone is not considering a non-tech solution.

Information Systems Project Management Decision Making – The Influence of Experience and Risk Propensity (Huff & Prybutok, 2008)

Dienstag, August 12th, 2008

Decision Making on IS Projects

Huff, Richard A.; Prybutok, Victor R.: Information Systems Project Management Decision Making – The Influence of Experience and Risk Propensity; in: Journal of Project Management, Vol. 39 (2008), No. 2, pp. 34-47.

Huff & Prybutok analyse the antecedents of decision making of project managers in IT projects. Their hypothesis includes that knowledge and risk behaviour have an impact on decision-making. In both cases that can be empirically proven. Although knowledge is mostly driven by project management experience, whereas work experience has no influence on making decisions. The risk behaviour can be explained by the risk propensity, which are the „perceived psychological/emotional costs of the decision“.
In short this means continuation decisions (which were the subject of this research) are influenced by the managers project management experience and by his/her risk propensity.

Project Management Practice, Generic or Contextual – Reality Check (Besner & Hobbs, 2008)

Dienstag, August 12th, 2008

Tool usage in different types of projects

Besner, Claude; Hobbs, Brian: Project Management Practice, Generic or Contextual – Reality Check; in: Project Management Journal, Vol. 39 (2008), No. 1, pp. 16-33.

Besner & Hobbs investigate the use of project management tools. In a broad survey among 750 practitioners, they try to find patterns when different tools are applied to manage a project. They authors show that tool usage depends on the factors

  • Organisational maturity level of project management
  • Project similarity and familiarity
  • Level of uncertainty in project definition
  • Internal customer vs. external customer
  • Project size and duration
  • Product type

Among these factors the last one is the most interesting. Besner & Hobbs grouped their sample into three legs according to product type a) engineering & construction, b) IT, and c) business services.
So where do IT projects fall short compared to their counterparts in Engineering and Construction?
One area is the vendor management (bidding documents, conferences, evaluations) which is a strong point in E&C but a weak one in IT. Another area is the cost planning (financial measurements, cost data bases, top-down/bottom-up estimation, software for estimating costs) and in execution IT projects show lesser usage of Earned Value Techniques and Value Analysis.
[Fair enough – I do think – the intangibility of IT projects makes it difficult to apply these concepts unbiased and meaningfully].

User diversity impact on project performance in an environment with organizational technology learning and management review processes (Wang et al. 2006)

Montag, August 11th, 2008

 User Diversity and Project Success

Wang, Eric T.G.; Wei, Hsiao-Lan; Jiang, James J. ; Klein, Gary: User diversity impact on project performance in an environment with organizational technology learning and management review processes; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 24 (2006), pp. 405-411.

Does user diversity improves the performance of an information system-development project? Wang et al. use management review as a base process to examine whether user diversity is significant to the success of a system either directly or with learning as
a mediator. The authors find that success depends on management review and learning, but show user diversity to be fully mediated by organizational technology learning. Thus the authors conclude that user diversity should be considered an environmental factor to promote learning, but it may not be important in the completion of any particular project.

A Framework for the Life Cycle Management of Information Technology Projects – ProjectIT (Stewart, 2008)

Donnerstag, Juli 17th, 2008


Stewart, Rodney A.: A Framework for the Life Cycle Management of Information Technology Projects – ProjectIT; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), pp. 203-212.

Stewart outlines a framework of management tasks which are set to span the whole life cycle of a project. The life cycle consists of 3 phases – selection (called „SelectIT“), implementation (called „ImplementIT“), and close-out (called „EvaluateIT“).

The first phase’s main goal is to single out the projects worth doing. Therefore the project manager evaluates cost & benefits (=tangible monetary factors) and value & risks (=intangible monetary factors). In order to evaluate these the project manager needs to define a probability function of these factors for the project. Then these distribution functions are aggregated. Stewart suggests using also the Analytical Hierarchy Process Method (AHP) and the Vertex method [which I am not familiar with, neither is wikipedia or the general internet] in this step. Afterwards the rankings for each project are calculated and the projects are ranked accordingly.

The second phase is merely a controlling view on the IT project implementation. According to Stewart you should conduct SWOT-Analyses, come up with a IT diffusion strategy, design the operational strategy, some action plans on how to implement IT, and finally a monitoring plan.

The third stage („EvaluateIT“) advocates the use of an IT Balanced Score Card with 5 different perspectives – (1) Operations, (2) Benefits, (3) User, (4) Strategic competitiveness, and (5) Technology/System. In order to establish the Balanced Score Card measures for each category need to be defined first, then weighted, then applied and measured. The next step is to develop a utility function and finally overall IT performance can be monitored and improvements can be tracked.

Managing Knowledge and Learning in IT Projects: A Conceptual Framework and Guidelines for Practice (Reich, 2007)

Dienstag, Juli 15th, 2008

Knowledge gaps and risks

Reich, Blaize Horner: Managing Knowledge and Learning in IT Projects – A Conceptual Framework and Guidelines for Practice; in: Project Management Journal, Vol. 38 (2007), No. 2, pp. 5-17.

This paper won the PMI award for the best paper in 2007. She identifies 10 risks on the projects which arise due to knowledge gaps. Reich structures the risks from a systems and process perspective. Risks 1&2 are project inputs, Risks 3&4 are linked to the project governance, Risks 5-8 are operational risks, Risk 10 is an output risk.

  1. Previous lessons are not learned
  2. Team selection is flawed
  3. Volatility in the governance team
  4. Lack of role knowledge
  5. Inadequate knowledge integration
  6. Incomplete knowledge transfer
  7. Exit of team members
  8. Lack of knowledge map
  9. Loss between phases
  10. Failure to learn

Since learning the way to bridge knowledge gaps, Reich concludes that the best way to address the risks is 4-fold (1) establish a learning climate, (2) establish and maintain knowledge levels, (3) create channels for knowledge flow, and (4) develop a team memory.

Success factors regarding the implementation of ICT investment projects (Milis & Mercken, 2002)

Montag, Juli 14th, 2008

ITC Implementation in Banks CSF

Milis, Koen; Mercken, Roger: Success factors regarding the implementation of ICT investment projects; in: International Journal of Production Economics, Vol. 80 (2002), No. 1, pp. 105-117.


Milis & Mercken outline critical success factors for IT implementation projects in banks and insurances. They did a literature review and qualitative field research.The authors describe 49 critical success factors falling into the categories of

  • Project selection
  • Project definition
  • Project plan
  • Management involvement and support
  • Project team
  • Change management
  • Project resources
  • Managing relationships

Building on these findings, Milis & Mercken build a framework of 4 categories of success factors. (1) factors that enhance goal congruence, (2) factors that are related with the project team, (3) factors that influence the acceptance of the project, and (4) elements of implementation politics.


The first category combines factors that influence goal congruency:

  • Good selection & justification practice
  • Scope/objectives/goals: defined and agreed upon
  • Criteria for judging success: defined and agreed upon
  • Business alignment

The second category contains factors of team management/leadership:

  • Realistic but challenging goals
  • Urgency built in
  • Evaluation and reward mechanisms in place.Effective communication and conflict control
  • Complementary skills (technical & social)
  • Select team players to staff the project team
  • Select a competent and experienced project manager

The third category focuses on the acceptance of deliverables:

  • Definition of the authority and responsibilities
  • User participation.
  • Training
  • Top management support
  • Continuous evaluation and debate among the different parties involved
  • Powerful project manager with sufficient social skills

The fourth category deals with the implementation politics and planning:

  • Functional decomposition
  • Proper level of detail
  • Sufficient resources to execute the tasks planned
  • Resources for change management & contingency planning
  • Built in resource buffers

Beyond the Gantt chart: Project management moving on (Maylor, 2001)

Montag, Juli 14th, 2008

 beyond the gannt chart

Maylor, Harvey: Beyond the Gantt chart – Project management moving on; in: European Managment Journal, Vol. 19 (2001), No. 1, pp. 92-100.

Maylor argues that project management practice and research [which he analyses by it’s standard texts and bodies of knowledge] are stuck in a large-scale engineering mind set. He uses the advances in operations to show that knowledge in the project management realm is lacking behind. Maylor covers several key areas and challenges typical project management assumptions:

  • Project definition – projects are not a one-off effort; project managers need to be viewed as integrators of theories and knowledge and not as managers of plans
  • Manufacturing vs. Service – project management has no answer on the intangibility of service projects, thus expectation management and customer orientation are under represented; a SERVQUAL like paradigm change is needed
  • Project Management – the predominant focus on management activities and planning systems dilutes the importance of execution
  • Planning Process – Planning is somehow synonymous with network diagrams, freezes and baselines; Maylor encourages to make planning more visible, adopting lean tools from operations such as whiteboards and post-its
  • Conformance vs. Performance – Project management currently focuses on the conformance with budget, scope, and cost baselines; as operations did with TQM project should focus on delivering as soon as possible and as cheap as possible the maximal customer delight
  • Role of Strategy – Maylor cites Deming’s famous „defects are caused by the system“, to outline how argues that projects should not only be reactions to a company’s strategy but they need to contribute to and form part of the organisation’s strategy

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.

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?

A comprehensive framework for the assessment of eGovernment projects (Esteves & Joseph, 2008)

Mittwoch, Juli 9th, 2008

eGov Assessment

Esteves, José; Joseph, Rhoda C.: A comprehensive framework for the assessment of eGovernment projects; in: Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 25 (2008), No. 1, pp. 118-132.

I clearly expected more noteworthy things to write down in my summary sketch. Esteves & Rhoda built a framework on 3 dimensions. (1) Assessment Dimensions for the project, (2) Stakeholders, and (3) eGovernment Maturity Level. For the first dimension, the assessment of the project itself, they describe 6 more dimensions to look into. These are the technology implemented, the strategy behind it, organisational fit, economic viability, operational efficiency and effectiveness, and the services offered.