Archive for the ‘Program Management’ Category

Research Featured in Harvard Business Review

Donnerstag, Juli 26th, 2012

After 2 years of researching ICT projects the on-going research has been picked up by the Harvard Business Review and is on the cover of their September 2011 issue.

„Why your IT projects may be riskier than you think?“

By now, I collected a database of nearly 1,500 IT projects – in short we argue that the numbers in the hotly debated Standish Report are wrong, but their critics don’t get it quite right either. We found that while IT projects perform reasonably well on average the risk distribution has very fat tails in which a lot of Black Swan Events hide. 1 in 6 IT projects turned into a Black Swan – an event that can take down companies and cost executives their jobs.

Enjoy the read!

More background reading on the HBR article can be found in this working paper.

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.

Making a difference? Evaluating an innovative approach to the project management Centre of Excellence in a UK government department (O’Leary & Williams, 2008)

Donnerstag, Oktober 23rd, 2008

Making a difference? Evaluating an innovative approach to the project management Centre of Excellence in a UK government department (O’Leary & Williams, 2008)

O’Leary, Tim; Williams, Terry: Making a difference? Evaluating an innovative approach to the project management Centre of Excellence in a UK government department; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), No. 5, pp. 556-565.

The UK has rolled out the ambitious programme of setting-up IT Centres of Excellence in all its departments. Focal point of these Centres of Excellence are Programme Offices.

The role of these Programme Offices has been defined as: Reporting, Recovering & Standardising.
The objectives for the programme offices are monitoring and reporting the status of the IT initiatives in the department, and implementing a structured life cycle methodology. This methodology ties in with a stage-gate framework that needs to be introduced. Additionally hit-teams of delivery managers have been set-up to turn-around ailing projects.

O’Leary and Williams find that the interventions seem to work successfully, whereas the reporting and standardisation objective has yet to be fulfilled. Moreover the authors analyse the root causes for this success. They found that the basis of success was:

  • Administrative control of department’s IT budget
  • Leadership of IT director
  • Exploitation of project management rhetoric
  • Quality of delivery managers

The balance between order and chaos in multi-project firms: A conceptual model (Geraldi, 2008)

Donnerstag, Oktober 23rd, 2008

 The balance between order and chaos in multi-project firms: A conceptual model (Geraldi, 2008)

Geraldi, Joana G.: The balance between order and chaos in multi-project firms – A conceptual model; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), No. 4, pp. 348-356.

Geraldi takes a deeper look into multi-project settings at the ‚Edge of Chaos‘. Geraldi describes the Edge of Chaos as that fine line between chaos and order. Wikipedia (I know I shouldn’t cite it) has something else to say about the Edge of Chaos:

In the sciences in general, the phrase has come to refer to a metaphor that some physical, biological, economic and social systems operate in a region between order and either complete randomness or chaos, where the complexity is maximal. The generality and significance of the idea, however, has since been called into question by Melanie Mitchell and others. The phrase has also been borrowed by the business community and is sometimes used inappropriately and in contexts that are far from the original scope of the meaning of the term.

Geraldi defines the Edge of Chaos as a match between complexity and flexibility.  Complexity can either be located within faith or facts. Flexibility, on the other hand, is either high or low, whilst it is measured along the dimensions of scope + goals, processes + tools, and roles + staffing. Geraldi argues that only two of these archetypes represent a fit (highlighted below):

Complexity Faith Bureaucratisation of Chaos Creative Reflective
Fact Mechanic-Structured Chaotification of order
Low High

An experimental investigation of factors influencing perceived control over a failing IT project (Jani, 2008)

Montag, Oktober 20th, 2008

An experimental investigation of factors influencing perceived control over a failing IT project (Jani, 2008)

Jani, Arpan: An experimental investigation of factors influencing perceived control over a failing IT project; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), No. 7, pp. 726-732.

Jani wants to analyse why failing projects are not terminated, a spiralling development also called escalation of commitment (I posted about a case discussion of the escalation of commitment on the TAURUS project).  Jani performed a computer simulated experiment to show the antecedents of a continuation decision.

He rooted the effect of escalating commitment on the self-justification theory, prospect theory, agency theory, and also on sunk cost effects & project completion effects.

Self-justification motivates behaviour to justify attitudes, actions, beliefs, and emotions. It is an effect of cognitive dissonance and an effective cognitive strategy to reduce the dissonance. An example for this behaviour is continuing with a bad behaviour, because stopping it would question the previous decision (= escalation of commitment).

Another example is bribery. People bribed with a large amount of money, tend not to change their attitudes, which were unfavourable otherwise there was nor reason to bribe them in the first place. But Festinger & Carlsmith reported that bribery with a very small amount of money, made people why they accepted the bribe although it had been that small, thus thinking that there must be something to it and changing their attitude altogether. Since I did it, and only got 1 Dollar is a very strong dissonance. Here is a nice summary about their classic experiments. Here is one of their original articles.

Jani argues that all these theoretical effects fall into two factors – (1) self-serving bias and (2) past experience. These influence the judgement on his two antecedents – (1) project risk factors (endogeneous and exogeneous) and (2) task specific self-efficacy. The latter is measured as a factor step high vs. low and describes how you perceive your capability to influence events that impact you (here is a great discussion of this topic by Bandura).

The two factors of project risk and task specific self-efficacy then influence the perceived control over the project which influences the continuation decision. Jani is able to show that task specific self-efficacy moderates the perceived project control. In fact he manipulated the project risks to simulate a failing projects, at no time participants had control over the outcome of their decisions. Still participants with a higher self-efficacy judged their perceived control significantly higher than participants with lower self-efficacy. This effect exists for engogenous and exogenous risk factors alike.

The bottom-line of this experiment is quite puzzling. A good project manager, who has a vast track record of completing past projects successfully, tends to underestimate the risks impacting the project. Jani recommends that even with great past experiences on delivering projects, third parties should always review project risks. Jani asks for caution using this advice since his experiment did not prove that joint evaluation corrects for this bias effectively.

Lee, Margaret E.: E-ethical leadership for virtual project teams; in: International Journal of Project Management, in press (2008).

I quickly want to touch on this article, since the only interesting idea which stroke me was that Lee did draw a line from Kant to Utilitarism to the notion of Duty. She then concludes that it is our Kantesian, Utalitarian duty to involve stakeholders.

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

Organisational control in programme teams – An empirical study in change programme context (Nieminen & Lehtonen, 2008)

Freitag, Oktober 3rd, 2008

 Organisational control in programme teams - An empirical study in change programme context

Nieminen, Anu; Lehtonen, Mikko: Organisational control in programme teams – An empirical study in change programme context; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), No. 1, pp. 63-72.

Nieminen & Lehtonen search for control mechanisms and modes in organisational change programmes. Therefore the authors investigated four cases of organisational change programmes with a significant share of IT in them. Overall they identified 23 control mechanisms, which are used complimentary rather than exclusively.

The identified control mechanisms fall into three basic categories – (1) Bureaucratic Control, (2) Clan Control, and (3) Self Control. For each of these Nieminen & Lehtonen describe the focus, basis, and mechanisms of control.

Bureaucratic Control focuses on performance, i.e., behaviour, and outcomes, i.e., results and actions. The basis of bureaucratic control are rules and surveillance. Mechanisms typically employed are boundary and diagnostic mechanisms.

Clan Control focusses on socialisation, i.e., values, attitudes, and beliefs. The basis of clan control are interactions, values, and norms. Mechanisms typically employed are belief mechanisms, interactive mechanisms, and team control.

Self Control focusses on self-regulation, i.e., own actions vs. perceived organisational goals. It is based on self-monitoring and typically useses autonomoy as control mechanism.

In their empirical study Nieminen & Lehtonen find that a broad mix of control mechanisms is found in any programme, though significant differences exist between programmes. Furthermore the level of self-control seems to be positively related to other control mechanisms. Lastely the authors show that the physical environment strongly impacts the control mechanisms.

In their managerial implications Nieminen & Lehtonen conclude, that although ease of implementation is lowest for bureaucratic control – environments with ambigous goals need mechanisms of clan- and self-control.

Construction client multi-projects – A complex adaptive systems perspective (Aritua et al., in press)

Donnerstag, Oktober 2nd, 2008

 Construction client multi-projects – A complex adaptive systems perspective

Aritua, Bernard; Smith, Nigel J.; Bower, Denise: ; in: International Journal of Project Management, Article in Press, Corrected Proof.

The meme of Complexity Theory is unstoppable in recent project management research. On the other hand it does make sense. Research such as this and, of course, common sense, indicate that the project’s context is a field better not left unmanaged. Since reality is quite complex  and peoples‘ behaviour is anyway – a view like this increases the pre-existing complexity of projects management.

In this article Aritua et al. analyse the special complexity which presents itself in multi-project environments. I posted about complexity theory before and in more detail here.
A quick recap. Complexity theory has 6 distinctive features, which make the outcomes of decisions, actions, and events increasingly unpredictable

  • Inter-relationships
  • Adaptability
  • Self-organisation
  • Emergence
  • Feedback
  • Non-linearity

Aritua et al. model the multi-project environment as being two-fold – (1) strategic environment and (2) tactical environment. The strategic environment builds the business context for the projects, programmes, or portfolio. The authors conceptualise the typical strategic cycle as consisting of vision – mission- strategic blueprint & objectives.

The tactical environment is the project portfolio/programme itself. Consisting of a couple of projects, it does provide a Risk:Value ratio for each project, which leads to an overall risk:value ration for the whole portfolio/programme, as such it feeds back into the strategic cycle in the business context environment.

In a second step the authors analyse the dynamics of such a system – what happens to a mulit-project portfolio if its external environment changes?
First of all, the boundary spanning activity in this conceptualisation is the information exchange with the environment. The information exchange into and out of the project portfolio triggers dynamics inside and between each project. Self-organising local relationships emerge into complex adaptive behaviour which feeds back, positively or negatively into the self-organising relationships. Huh?

Firstly, the project portfolio/programme is a complex system and therefore adapts itself when the environment changes. The one and only pre-requisite for this is, as the authors argue, that information and feedback freely flows inside, into, and out of the system.

Secondly, the self-organising relationships simply imply that individual components of the system affect each other and influence behaviour and actions. That is no project in a portfolio is independent from others. The authors cite the ant colony example, where ants make individual decision based on decisions by their closest neighbours. Thus complex interaction emerges.

Thirdly, self-organisation is the driving force behind creating stability in this open system. As the authors put it: „This aspect of the relationship between complexity theory and multi-project management would imply that programme managers and portfolio managers should not be bogged down with detail and should allow and enable competent project managers to act more creatively and on their own. This understanding also influences multi-project managers to seek a balance between trusting project managers and allowing them to concentrate on details – on the one hand – while seeking the necessary level of control and accountability.“

Fourthly, emergence is the effect that the group behaviour is more than the sum of behaviours of each individual project. Which implies, that risk and value can better be managed and balanced in a portfolio. On the flipside non-linearity shows that small changes in the system have unpredictable outcomes, which might be quite large. Thus management tools which don’t rely on non-linearity are needed. Moreover „it also emphasises the need for the multi-project management to react to the changing business environment to keep the strategic objectives at the fore while providing relative stability for the delivery of individual projects“.

So what shall the manager of a programme/portfolio do?

  • Find a right balance between control and freedom for the individual projects (self-organisation)
  • Enable information flow between the environment and the projects, as well as in between the projects (adaptability)
  • Adapt strategic objectives, while stabilising project deliveries (feedback)
  • Balance risk and value in the portfolio (emergence)
  • Use non-linear management tools (non-linearity), such as AHP, Outranking, mental modelling & simulation

Foundations of program management: A bibliometric view (Artto et al., in press)

Dienstag, September 23rd, 2008

Foundations of program management: A bibliometric view (Artto et al., in press)Artto, Karlos; Martinsuo, Miia; Gemünden, Hans Georg; Murtoaro, Jarkko: Foundations of program management – A bibliometric view; in: International Journal of Project Management, Article in Press, Corrected Proof The article has been published in International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 27 (2009), No. 1, pp. 1–18. Artto et al. investigate the big question if programme management is much more than project management on a large scale. The authors review 517 programme management articles, 1164 project management articles from 21 years. They look into the various foundations of programme management research such as the level of analysis (organisation and its major parts), object of analysis (change of permanent organisation), outcomes of programmes (ambiguity & long-term impacts). Artto et al. also conclude that programmes might be similar to projects, that both management practices share common concepts, but that programmes should not be treated as scaled-up projects.Some more detail is provided regarding the themes, theories, and system thinking behind programme management. The themes, which the authors identified in the literature, are the origins of programme management. They find that programme management has its roots in manufacturing, quality, work and organisational change, and product development. Moreover they do assess the change of focus in these themes – whereas the organisational change is dominant for programmes and new product development is the dominant theme for project management.What is the specific systems thinking regarding programmes? Programmes are usually conceptualised as open systems. [An approach more and more followed in project management research as well.] Furthermore innovation is a major concern of programmes. As such open systems are typically used to innovate processes, organisations, and infrastructure. In contrast innovation using closed systems is more dominant in product development, which subsequently employs more projects than programmes to innovate.Moreover the authors explore the theoretical basis of programme management. They found this research deeply rooted in organisational and strategy theories. Additional theories used to explore this concepts are product development, organisational change, manufacturing, quality, economic, industrial, and institutional theories.Lastly, Artto et al. identify shortcomings of existing research on programme management, which are

  • Ignorance of original theoretical roots of program and project management
  • Neglect of inter-project coordination
  • Neglect of inter-organizational issues and theories
  • Limited contingency view
  • Lack of industry-specific views
  • Neglect of the interplay between the permanent and the temporary organization

A multicriteria satisfaction analysis approach in the assessment of operational programmes (Ipsilandis et al., 2008)

Montag, September 22nd, 2008

A multicriteria satisfaction analysis approach in the assessment of operational programmes (Ipsilandis et al., 2008)

Ipsilandis, Pandelis G.; Samaras, George; Mplanas, Nikolaos: A multicriteria satisfaction analysis approach in the assessment of operational programmes; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), No. 6, pp. 601-611.

Satisfaction measurement was one of my big things for a long time, when I was still working in market research. I still believe in the managerial power of satisfaction measurements, although you might not want to do it every 8 weeks rolling. Well, that’s another story and one of these projects where a lot of data is gathered for no specific decision-making purpose and therefore the data only sees limited use.

Anyway, Ipsilandis et al. design a tool to measure project/programme satisfaction for European Union programmes. First of all they give a short overview (for all the non-knowing) into the chain of actions at the EU. On top of that chain sit the national/european policies, which become operational programmes (by agreement between the EU and national bodies). Programmes consists of several main lines of actions called axis, which are also understood as strategic priorities. The axis are further subdevided into measures, which are groups of similar projects or sub-programmes. The measures itself contain the single projects, where the real actions take place and outputs, results, and impact is achieved. [I always thought that just having a single program management body sitting on top of projects can lead to questionable overhead.]

Ipsilandis et al. further identify the main stakeholders for each of the chain of policies –> projects. The five stakeholders are – policy making bodies, programme management authority, financial beneficiaries, project organisations, immediate beneficiaries. The authors go on to identify the objectives for each of these stakeholder groups. Then Ipsilandis et al. propose a MUSA framework (multi criteria satisfaction analysis) in which they measure satisfaction (on a five point scale, where 1=totally unsatisfied, and 5=very satisfied)

  • Project results
    • Clarity of objectives
    • Contribution to overall goals
    • Vision
    • Exploitation of results
    • Meeting budget
  • Project management authority operations
    • Submission of proposals
    • Selection and approval process
    • Implementation support
    • MIS support
    • Timely payments
    • Funding ~ Scope
    • Funding ~ Budget
  • Project Office support
    • Management support
    • Admin/tech support
    • Accounting dept. support
    • MIS support
  • Project Team
    • Tech/admin competence
    • Subproject leader
    • Staff contribution
    • Outsourcing/consultants
    • Diffusion of results

The authors then run through a sample report, which contains the typical representations of satisfaction scores, but they have 3 noteworthy ideas – (1) the satisfaction function, (2) performance x importance matrix, and (3) demanding x effectiveness matrix. The satisfaction function is simply the distribution function of satisfaction scores.
[I still do not understand why the line between 0% at score 1 and 100% at score 5 should represent neutrality – Such a line would assume uniform distribution of scores, where I think normal distribution is more often the case, which is also acknowledged by the authors, when they try to establish beta-weights via regression analysis, where normality is a pre-requisite for.]

Furthermore Ipsilandis et al. continue to establish the relative beta-weights for each item and calculate the average satisfaction index accordingly (satisfaction is indexed at 0% to 100%). Cutting-off at the centroid on each axis they span a 2×2 matrix for importance (beta-weight) vs. performance (satisfaction index). The authors call these diagrams „Action diagrams“.
[Centroid of the axis is just a cool way of referring to the mean.]

The third set of diagrams, the so called „Improvement diagrams“, are demanding vs. effectiveness matrices. The demanding dimension is defined by the beta-weights once more. The rational behind this thinking is, that a similar improvement leads to higher satisfaction at items with a higher beta-weight. The effectiveness dimension is the weighted dissatisfaction index. Simply put it is beta-weight*(100%-satisfaction index %). Reasoning behind this is to identify the actions with a great marginal contribution to overall satisfaction and only little effort needed.
[I still don’t understand why this diagram is needed, since the same message is conveyed in the ‚action diagrams‘ – anyway, a different way of showing it. Same, same but different.
What I previously tried to fiddle around with are log-transformations, e.g. logit, to model satisfaction indeces and their development in a non-linear fashion, instead of just weighting and normalising them. Such a procedure would put more importance on very low and very high values, following the reasoning, that fixing something completely broken is a big deal, whereas perfecting the almost perfect (think choosing the right lipstick for Scarlett Johannson) is not such a wise way to spend your time and money (fans of Ms. Johannson might disagree).]

Large-scale projects, self-organizing and meta-rules: towards new forms of management (Jolivet & Navarre, 1996)

Montag, August 11th, 2008

New Approach to Manage Large-Scale Projects

Jolivet, F.; Navarre, C.: Large-scale projects, self-organizing and meta-rules: towards new forms of management; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 14 (1996), No. 5, pp. 265-271.

This is one of the few articles dealing with the specifics of large-scale projects. Jolivet & Navarre argue that the traditional approach of pyramidal organisation, centralised control, standardisation of procedures, and reactive management are not suited to successfully execute a large-scale project.

Instead the authors recommend a new approach of autonomy, subsidiarity, and cellular division which is characterized by

  • Maximal individualisation
  • Differentiation of management styles and use of central meta-rules
  • Use of autonomous, self-organising teams
  • Central performance audits

They argue that large scale projects can regain speed if decision power is shifted to people on the ground and is not centrally bundled which creates a bottleneck around the central management team.  All  (sub)-projects in their case study are conducted along a specific and limited set of 12 principles which are all correlated with project success. In all other areas small scale teams have full decisional autonomy.

Directions for future research in project management: The main findings of a UK government-funded research network (Winter et al. 2006)

Montag, August 11th, 2008

Directions of future research in project management

Winter, Mark; Smith, Charles; Morris, Peter; Cicmil, Svetlana: Directions for future research in project management – The main findings of a UK government-funded research network; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 24 (2006), No. 8, pp. 638-649. 

To start with Winter et al. give a short overview of the research history. In their conceptualisation of project management’s history research started as a hard systems model forked afterwards into two different foci (1) execution and (2) organisational design. The organisational design stream developed into research of ad hoc & temporary organisations. This stream forked into 4 different streams a) subsequently focussed on major projects and lately on a management of project’s framework, b) analysed strategic decisions, c) viewed projects as information processing entities, and d) researched critical management.

Winter et al. outline 3 distinctive directions for future research – Theory ABOUT, FOR, and IN practice. Theory about practice should focus on complexity theory. The theory for practice on social processes, value creation, and a broad concept of project management. The theory in practice should create practitioners who are reflective practitioners and not merely trained technicians.

The importance of context in programme management: An empirical review of programme practices (Pellegrinelli et al., 2007)

Dienstag, Juli 15th, 2008

 Context in Programs

Pellegrinelli, Sergio; Partington, David; Hemingway, Chris; Mohdzainb, Zaher; Shah, Mahmood: The importance of context in programme management – An empirical review of programme practices; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 25 (2007), No. 1, pp. 41-55.

Pellegrinelli et al. study actual practices on programs which mainly consist of projects. Surprisingly they find that the OGC’s Managing Successful Programmes framework (MSP) is not consistently adopted even when its use is mandated by the organisation. Furthermore they found that following MSP rigorously leads to a controlling dominated management agenda and not a empowering agenda. Their main findings for each MSP category are

  • Organisation & Leadership – mostly living on paper only, IT rather than business counterparts perform the roles needed
  • Benefits Management – mostly unquantifiable benefits or intangible benefits, general perception that this approach doesn’t fit RUP  (or any of the other unified processes of software development)
  • Stakeholder Management & Communication – n/a
  • Risk Management & Issue resolution – mostly risk management is missing completely on a program level
  • Program Planning & Control – often overruled by central head quarter
  • Business Case Management – Only symbolic artifact or only used to secure funding and never updated afterwards
  • Quality Management – are more adoptions of organisational practices already in place than the MSP processes

In short Pellegrinelli et al. revealed significant and on-going crafting of programme content, structures and processes to reconcile divergent aims and interests, to expedite progress in the face of adversity and to engage multiple sponsors, contributors and stakeholders. Thus the authors showed the importance and influence of context, namely the dynamic cultural, political and business environment in which the programmes operate, and the organisationally embedded nature of programme management.