Collyer, Simon: Project management approaches for dynamic environments; in: International Journal of Project Management, in press (2008).http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijproman.2008.04.004Update 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.
Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category
Project management and business development: integrating strategy, structure, processes and projects (Van Der Merwe, 2002)Montag, Juli 14th, 2008
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)
Artto, Karlos; Kujala, Jaakko; Dietrich, Perttu; Martinsuo, Miia: What is Project Strategy?, in: International Journal of Project Management, 26 (2008), pp. 4-12
Artto et al. do have a very nice article in the first issue of this year’s IJPM. The authors look into behavioural strategies of projects. They see projects being ’sort of‘ autonomous of their organizational environment and that projects not always follow directions and decisions set-up by their mother corporations.
They do map 4 distinctive types of project strategy/behaviour on two axes. (1) Strength of link to parent organisation. (2) Degree of independence. Thus creating a 2×2-Matrix (what consultants usually love – „there is no problem which can not be shown in a 2×2-Matrix“) with 4 strategy types: (a) Obediant Servant, (b) Independent Innovator, (c) Flexible Mediator, (d) Strong Leader.
Their article closes with recommendations for future research on: (1) empirically validating these 4 strategies; (2) the question how strategies are formulated, what are the routes of development; (3) Empirical studies of strategy shaping factors, to address the dynamics and evolutions of projects‘ strategies; (4) Empirical investigations into different environments, aka application areas (innovation, organizational transformation, IT etc.); (5) Connection to mainstream strategy research and ops management; (6) bringing this to a stakeholder perspective: What kind of influences, levers, tactics are used by different stakeholders to formulate and implement a project’s strategy?