Archive for the ‘Methodology’ Category

Managing the development of large software systems (Royce, 1970)

Donnerstag, April 23rd, 2009


Royce, W. Winston: Managing the development of large software systems; in: Proceedings of IEEE Wescon (1970), pp. 382-338.

It’s never to late to start reading a classic.  This is one for sure.  The original paper which proposes the waterfall software development model.  This is now extremely common place – but and that is what stroke me odd as well, the model shows a huge number of feedback loops which typically are omitted.

The steps of the original waterfall are as follows

  1. System Requirements
  2. Software Requirements
  3. Preliminary Program Design which includes the preliminary software review
  4. Analysis
  5. Program Design which includes several critical software reviews
  6. Coding
  7. Testing which includes the final software review
  8. Operations

Among the interesting loops in this model is the big feedback from testing into program design and from program design into software requirements.  By no means can is this model what we commonly assume to be a waterfall process – there are no frozen requirements, no clear cut steps without any looking back.  This is much more RUP or AGILE or whatever you want to call it than the waterfall model I have in my head.

The Definite List of Project Management Methodologies

Freitag, Januar 16th, 2009

This is a gem.
Craig Brown from the ‚Better Projects‘-Blog (here) created a presentation on Jurgen Appelo’s Definite List of Project Management Methodologies.  Jurgen published his list first in his blog over at and now moved it into a Google Knol here.  Craig put it into a great tongue in cheek presentation.  I very much enjoyed it, as such here it is:

Software Project Methods

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: software agile)

Governance Frameworks for Public Project Development and Estimation (Klakegg et al., 2008)

Montag, November 3rd, 2008

 Governance Frameworks for Public Project Development and Estimation (Klakegg et al., 2008)

Klakegg, Ole Jonny; Williams, Terry; Magnussen, Ole Morten; Glasspool, Helene: Governance Frameworks for Public Project Development and Estimation; in: Project Management Journal, Vol. 39 (2008), Supplement, pp. S27–S42.
DOI: 10.1002/pmj.20058

Klakegg et al. compare different public governance frameworks, particularly the UK’s Ministry of Defense, UK’s Office of Government Commerce, and Norway’s framework. The authors find that „the frameworks have to be politically and administratively
well anchored. A case study particularly looking into cost and time illustrates how the framework influences the project through scrutiny. The analysis shows the governance frameworks are important in securing transparency and control and clarifies the role of sponsor“ (p. S27)

Their analysis starts with the question of „Who are governance relevant stakeholders?„. The authors show two different general approaches to public governance stakeholders – Shareholder Value Systems and Communitarian Systems. The Shareholder Value System is based on the principle that only shareholders are legitimate stakeholders – a system which is used in the US, UK, and Canada. On the other hand the Communitarian System is based on the idea that all impacted communities and persons are relevant stakeholders – a system typically found in Norway, Germany, and numerous other countries. A secondary line of thought is the difference between Western and Asian stakeholder ideas, whereas the Asian idea is underlining the concept of family and the Western idea is underlining the relationship concept.

To pin down the idea of public project governance the authors draw parallels to corporate governance with it’s chain of management ↔ board ↔ shareholder ↔ stakeholder. The APM defines project governance as the corporate governance that is related to projects with the aim that sustainable alternatives are choosen and delivered efficiently. Thus the authors define a governance framework as an organised structure, authoritive in organisation with processes and rules established to ensure the project meets its purpose.

The reviewed governance frameworks show interesting differences – for example in the control basis, reviewer roles, report formats, supporting organisation, and mode of initiation. The principles they are based on range from management of expectations, to establishing hurdles to cross, to making recommendations. Focus of the reviews can be the business case, outputs, inputs, or used methods.

Balance Sheet Analysis

Dienstag, Oktober 28th, 2008

 Balance Sheet Analysis

After the monstrous write-up of the Bredillet article on the MAP method, I just wanted to quickly write this down. I did a quick overview of the usual suspects when it comes to Balance Sheet Analysis. There are four major categories I) Liquidity, II) Profitability Ratios, III) Financial Leverage Ratio, IV) Efficiency Ratio.

I) Liquditiy

  • Working Capital = current assets – current liabilities
  • Acid Test = (cash + marketable securities + accounts receivable) / current liabilities
  • Current Ratio = current assets / current liabilities
  • Cash Ratio= (cash equivalents + marketable securities) / current liabilities

II) Profitability

  • Net Profit Margin = net income / net sales
  • Return on Assets = net income / ((beginning of period + end of period assets)/2)
  • Operating Income Margin = operating income / net sales
  • Gross Profit Margin = gross profit / net sales
  • Return on Equity = net income / equity
  • Return on Investment = net income / (long-term liabilities + equity)

III) Financial Leverage

  • Capitalisation = long-term debt / (long-term debt + owner’s equity)
  • Interest Coverage Ratio = EBIT / interest expense
  • Long-term debt to net working capital = long-term debt / (current assets – current liabilities)
  • Debt to Equity = total debt / total equity
  • Total debts of assets = total liabilities / total assets

IV) Efficiency

  • Cash Turnover = net sales / cash
  • Sales to Working Capital = net sales / average working capital
  • Total Assets Turnover = net sales / average total assets
  • Fixed Assets Turnover = net sales / fixed assets

The PM_BOK Code (Whitty & Schulz, 2006)

Donnerstag, Oktober 23rd, 2008

 The PM_BOK Code (Whitty & Schulz, 2006)

Whitty, S. J.; Schulz, M. F.: The PM_BOK Code; in: The Proceedings of 20th IPMA World Congress on Project Management, Vol. 1 (2008) , pp. 466 – 472.

The bold claim of this article is that project management is more about appearance than productivity.
Whitty & Schulz argue that our hard-wiring for memes and the western culture have turned project management (in it’s special representation in the PMI’s PMBOK) into a travesty.
The western culture is synonymous with the spirit of capitalism combined with the meme of the corporation, which has been disected many times most noteably by Achbar, Abbott & Bakan.

The authors compare the everyday madness of projects to nothing else but theatres. Keeping up appearances. They draw similarities between the theatrical stage – think meeting rooms and offices, costumes – think dark suits or funny t-shirts, scripts – think charts and status reports, props – think powerpoint, and audience – think co-workers and managers. Whitty & Schulz that the big show we put up everyday is to appear in control and successful.

Project management is the ideal way to represent western culture. Being flexible, ready for change, constantly exploiting new opportunities.
On the flip side, the authors argue, that project management kills creativity and democracy. It fractionalises the workforce, thus driving down productivity.

The way out of this predicament is to „reform […] the PMBOK® Guide version of PM in a way that elieves practitioners from performativity, and opens project work up to more creative and democratic processes“ (p. 471).

Graphical Representation of the Project Management Body of Knowledge

Dienstag, Oktober 21st, 2008

Poster (black, horizontal)

Today I woke up very early and created these beautiful pictures summarising all keywords from the last 5 years in the International Journal of Project Management and the Journal of Project Management.

In my lunch break another thought struck me – you need something on that bare wall you have here. From there on it was a short step to run the PMI’s PMBOK Guide 3rd Ed. through and after a lot of tweaking, it created some beautiful posters, reminding me what the PMP is all about. I use to print the poster on demand – I am quite satisfied with Lulu the largest poster measuring 23″ x 36″ (61cm x 91 cm) comes for just $39.95, excluding shipping.

The posters can be ordered at my Lulu Store.

And here are all of the designs I put online:

Poster (white, horizontal - 2nd Version)

Poster (black, horizontal)Poster (white, horizontal)

Poster (black, vertical)Poster (white, vertical)

Creative Commons License
These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Images as action instruments in complex projects (Taxén & Lilliesköld, 2008)

Montag, Oktober 20th, 2008

Images as action instruments in complex projects (Taxén & Lilliesköld, 2008)

Taxén, Lars; Lilliesköld, Joakim: Images as action instruments in complex projects; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), No. 5, pp. 527-536.

Images are quite powerful. I hate motivational posters which a distant corporate HQ decorates every meeting room with, but I once saw the department strategy visualised by these folks, they include all employees and the group dynamic is unbelievable. Later on they cleaned the images, blew them up, and posted them around the company – of course, meaningless for an outsider but a powerful reminder for everyone who took part.

Taxén & Lilliesköld analyse the images typically used in project management. They find that these common images, such as PERT/CPM, Gantt charts, or WBS are increasingly difficult to use in complex projects, in this case the authors look into a large-scale IT project.

Based on Activity Domain Theory they develop alternative images better suited for complex projects. Activity Domain Theory, however, underlines that all tasks on a project (= each activity domain) have a motive, fulfils needs, modifies objects, and has actors. Outcomes are produced by activity domains and are at the same time prerequisites for activity domains. Activity domains have activity modalities, which can be either manifested as resources or as communal meaning. These activity modalities are

  • Contextualisation = situation of human action
  • Spatialisation = need for spatial orientation in human action
  • Temporalisation = need for certain order in human action
  • Stabilisation = need for certain rules and norms in human action
  • Transition = need for interaction between activity domains

Useful images, the authors argue, need to fulfil these needs while being situated in the context of the activity. Traditional images focus on optimisation and control, rather than on coordination and action. Thus alternate images need to focus on dependencies and integration; on value comprehensibility and informality over formality and rigour.

Alternative images suited for complex project management are

  • Anatomies – showing modules, work packages and their dependencies of the finished product, e.g., functional node diagrams
  • Dependency diagrams – showing the incremental assembly of the product over a couple of releases, e.g. increment plan based on dependencies (a feature WBS lack)
  • Release matrices – showing the flow of releases, how they fit together, and when which functionality becomes available, e.g., integration plan
  • Information flow diagrams – showing the interfaces between modules, e.g. DFD

Project management approaches for dynamic environments (Collyer, 2009)

Donnerstag, Oktober 9th, 2008

 Project management approaches for dynamic environments (Collyer, in press)Collyer, Simon: Project management approaches for dynamic environments; in: International Journal of Project Management, in press (2008). this article has been published in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 27 (2009), No. 4, pp. 355-364. There it is again: Complexity, this time under the name of Dynamic Project Environments. I admit that link is a bit of a stretch. Complexity has been described as situations, where inputs generate surprising outputs. Collyer on the other hand focuses special project management strategies to succeed in changing environments. The author’s example is the IT project, which inherently bears a very special dynamic.He discusses eight different approaches to cope with dynamics. (1) Environment manipulation, which is the attempt to transform a dynamic environment into a static environment. Examples commonly employed are design freezes, extending a systems life time, and leapfrogging or delaying new technology deployment.(2) Planning for dynamic environments. Collyer draws a framework where he classifies projects on two dimensions. Firstly, if their methods are well defined or not, and secondly if the goals are well defined or not. For example he classifies the System Development project as ill-defined and ill-defined. This is a point you could argue about, because some people claim that IT projects usually have well-defined methodologies, but lack clear goals. Collyer suggest scaling down planning. Plan milestones according to project lifecycle stages, and detail when you get there. He recommends spending more time on RACI-matrices than on detailed plans.(3) Control scope, which is quite the obivious thing to try to achieve – Collyer recommends to always cut the project stages along the scope and make the smallest possible scope the first release.(4) Controlled experimentation. The author suggest that experimentation supports sense-making in a dynamic environment. Typical examples for experimentation are prototyping (Collyer recommends to always develop more than one prototype), feasibility studies, and proofs of concept.(5) Lifecycle strategies, although bearing similarities to the scope control approaches he proposes this strategy deals with applying RuP and agile development methods, to accelerate the adaptability of the project in changing environments.(6) Managment control, as discussed earlier in this post every project uses a mix of different control techniques. Collyer suggest deviating from the classical project management approach of controlling behaviour by supervision, in favour for using more input control, for example training to ensure only the best resources are selected. Besides input control Collyer recommend on focussing on output control as well, making output measurable and rewarding performance.Collyer also discusses a second control framework, which distinguishes control by the abstract management principle. Such as diagnostic control (=formal feedback), control of beliefs (=mission, values), control of interactions (=having strategic, data-based discussions), and boundary control (=defining codes of conduct).Lastly the author discusses two more approaches to succeeding with dynamic environments which are (7) Categorisation and adaptation of standards and (8) Leadership style.

Preparing project managers to deal with complexity (Thomas & Mengel, 2008) and Preparing the mind for dynamic management (Hartman, 2008)

Dienstag, Oktober 7th, 2008

 Preparing project managers to deal with complexity (Thomas & Mengel, 2008) and Preparing the mind for dynamic management (Hartman, 2008)

Thomas, Janice; Mengel, Thomas: Preparing project managers to deal with complexity – Advanced project management education; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), pp. 304-315.

Hartman, Francis: ; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), pp. 258-267.

Complexity is a meme that just doesn’t want to die. I wrote before about articles on the foundamentals of complexity theory and project management, about the use of autonomous cells in project organisations and how they prevent complex project systems from failing, and the complex dynamics of project entities in a programme. Not surprisingly this meme has spread into the coaching and project management education world where there is some money to make of it.

Thomas & Mengel argue that the current project manager education is not suited at all to prepare for complex projects. The focus on standardisation, control, and hard systems thinking stands in direct opposition to the actuality of projects, which show high complexity in roles, high degrees of chaos and uncertainty.
Theoretically Thomas & Mengel base their discussion on three complexity/chaos theory concepts

  • Chaos theory – explaining the behaviour of dynamic and unstable systems
  • Dissipative structures – explaining moment of dynamic stability and instability
  • Complex adaptive systems – explaining behaviour of systems with a large number of independent agents, and organisational evolution and learning

So what does it take to be a Complex Project’s Manager?
Thomas & Mengel propose that understanding the complex environment is far more important than using tools and techniques of project management. Furthermore they outline three key capabilities to manage complexity

  • IQ – possessing the self-knowledge to adapt existing tools
  • EQ – possessing the emotional skills to coach and manage people
  • SQ – possessing the capacity for finding meaning

In their framework Thomas & Mengel see most of today’s project managers as Experts, these are project managers heavy on the IQ side of their IQ-EQ-SQ-Triangle. The authors see two developmental strategies. One is coping with uncertainty by moving towards the sense-making SQ corner of the triangle and becoming a Leader. The other developmental direction is coping with complexity by strengthening the EQ corner and becoming a Manager.

Similar ideas are discussed in the paper by Hartman. Altough he does not call the elephant on the table complex project management but he names it dynamic management. Blink or not Blink – Hartman argues that wisdom and intuition are the two desired qualities in a leader with a mind for dynamic management. Furthermore he identifies three traits absolutely necessary

  • Pattern recognition & decision-making
  • Relationship building & communication
  • Integrity & trust

Multicriteria cash-flow modeling and project value-multiples for two-stage project valuation (Jiménez & Pascual, 2008)

Dienstag, Oktober 7th, 2008

 Multicriteria cash-flow modeling and project value-multiples for two-stage project valuation (Jiménez & Pascual, 2008)

Jiménez, Luis González; Pascual, Luis Blanco: Multicriteria cash-flow modeling and project value-multiples for two-stage project valuation; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), No. 2, pp. 185-194.

I am not the expert in financial engineering, though I built my fair share of business cases and models for all sorts of projects and endeavours. I always thought of myself as being not to bad at estimating and modelling impacts and costs, but I never had a deep knowledge of valuation tools and techniques. A colleague was claiming once that every business case has to work on paper with a pocket calculator in your hands. Otherwise it is way to complicated. Anyhow, I do understand the importance of a proper NPV calculation, to say the least even if you do fancy shmancy real options evaluation as in this article here, the NPV is one of the key inputs.

Jiménez & Pascual identify three common approaches to project valuation NPV, real options, and payback period calculations. Their article focusses on NPV calculation. They argue that a NPV calculation consists of multiple cash flow components and each of these has different underlying assumptions, as to it’s risk, value, and return.

The authors start with the general formula for a NPV calculation
NPV = V0 = -I0 + ∑Qi ∏e-rk = -I0 + ∑Q e-∑rk
This formula also gives the internal rate of return (IIR) if V0=0 and the profitability index (PI) is defined as PI = V0/I0. Furthermore Jiménez & Pascual outline two different approaches on how to model the expected net cash flow Qi either as cash flow Qi = ∑qj,i or as value based period gj,k = ln (qj,k/qj,k-1).

The next question is how to model future values of the cash flow without adjusting your assumptions for each and every period. The article’s authors suggest four different methods [the article features a full length explanation and numerical example for each of these]

  • Cash Flow = Cash Flow + independent variable
  • Cash Flow = Cash Flow + function of the cash flow
  • Cash Flow = Function of a stock magnitude
  • Cash Flow = Change in stock magnitude

Finally the authors add three different scenarios under which the model is tested and they also show the managerial implications of the outcome of each of these scenarios

  • Ratios, such as operating cost and expenses (OPCE) to turnover (T/O), labour costs to T/O, depreciation to TIO, not fixed assets to T/O, W/C to T/O
  • Valuation multiples, such as Sales, Ebitda
  • Financing structure, such as short term, long term debt, after tax interests

The mechanisms of project management of software development (McBride, 2008)

Montag, September 22nd, 2008

The mechanisms of project management of software development

McBride, Tom: The mechanisms of project management of software development; in: Journal of Systems and Software, Article in Press.

McBride covers two aspects of tools and techniques for the management of software developments. Firstly the monitoring, secondly the control and thirdly the coordination mechanisms used in software development.

The author distinguishes four categories of monitoring tools: automatic, formal, ad hoc, and informal. The most common tools used are schedule tracking, team meeting, status report, management reviews, drill downs, conversations with the team and the customers.

The control mechanisms are categorised by their organisational form of control as either output, behaviour, input, or clan control. The most often used control mechanisms are Budget/schedule/functionality control, formal processes, project plan, team co-location, and informal communities.

Lastly the Coordination mechanisms are grouped by which way the try to coordinate the teams: standards, plans, formal and informal coordination mechanisms. The most common are specifications, schedule, test plans, team meetings, ad hoc meetings, co-location, and personal conversations.

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.

Project management and business development: integrating strategy, structure, processes and projects (Van Der Merwe, 2002)

Montag, Juli 14th, 2008

Business development

Van Der Merwe, A. P.: Project management and business development: integrating strategy, structure, processes and projects; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 20 (2002), No. 5, pp. 401-411.

Van Der Merwe outlines organisational theories and configurations. Furthermore he applies systems and process theory to explain the relationship between strategy, structure, processes, and projects. The author shows that projects in business development are used to transform a vision into results by bringing together diverse teams. He concludes with this [delightful] paragraph:

„This aspect [projects bringing together diverse people] revealed project management as the point of departure for management theory, where management manages the behavioural processes of people who manage the continuous incremental improvement of business procedures in the organisation, through projects that guide the business process to address the change in the strategic direction of the organisation. If business is to develop then the successful outcome of any change in the organisation can only be achieved when business processes and human behavioural processes converge in the person of the project manager.“ (Van Der Merwe, 2002, p. 411)


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).

Rethinking Project Management: Researching the actuality of projects (Cicmil et al. 2006)

Dienstag, Juli 8th, 2008

Rethinking PM

Svetlana Cicmil, Svetlana; Williams, Terry; Thomas, Janice; Hodgson, Damian: Rethinking Project Management – Researching the actuality of projects; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 24 (2006), No. 8, pp. 675-686

Cicmil et al. describe their idea for the future direction of project management research. The authors outline 3 ideas they had in mind when thinking about project management. (1) projects are complex social settings loaded with conflicts, (2) project management practice is a social conduct, (3) Heidegger’s Da-Sein.  With this starting point Cicmil et al. describe their methodological considerations which are rooted in pragmatic epistemology. They argue that in this tradition non-quantitative research can build epistemic theories.

Moreover Cicmil et al. outline quality criteria/standards for Actuality Research. It needs to fulfil practical reasoning, sense-making and thus it can explain hard to quantify concepts of emotions, power, tensions, negotiations, and political agendas. Finally they highlight topics for future research which are suited to be explored using an Actuality Research approach.