Archive for the ‘Trust’ Category

Managing user expectations on software projects – Lessons from the trenches (Petter, in press)

Dienstag, Oktober 7th, 2008

 Managing user expectations on software projects - Lessons from the trenches (Petter, in press)

Petter, Stacie: Managing user expectations on software projects – Lessons from the trenches; in: International Journal of Project Mangement, in press (2008).

Petter interviewed 12 project management professionals on managing the end-user expectations.  What worked and what did not work?

The conclusions cover three broad areas – end user involvement, leadership, and trust. As far as user involvement is concerned the practices that work included

  • Listening to users
  • Asking questions
  • Understanding concerns about change and actively ease these
  • Working with the user (not at or to them)
  • Let user make tough choices, e.g., on functionality, budget, cost, time
  • Create small user groups to hear them all
  • Giving credit to specific users for ideas
  • Keep users involved and updated throughout the project

What did not work were – not communicating the project status, and trying to outlast difficult users.

On the leadership dimension useful practices mentioned include

  • Ensure project champion
  • Articulate clear vision
  • Motivate team to get it done
  • Educate users on benefits
  • Obtain buy-in from primary stakeholders

Factors leading to end-user dissatisfaction were

  • Scope creep
  • No mission
  • No explanation of purpose/value of the system
  • Follow others

Trust building activities that worked well, were sharing good and bad news, and providing specific times for deliverables. What did not work were hiding the true status of the project, and ‚fake it until you make it‘ also known as hiding knowledge gaps.

Fundamental Uncertainties in Projects and the Scope of Project Mangement (Atkinson et al. 2006)

Montag, Juli 7th, 2008

Uncertainty(1-Thumb) Uncertainty(2-Thumb)

Atkinson, Roger; Crawford, Lynn; Ward, Stephen: Fundamental Uncertainties in Projects and the Scope of Project Management, in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 24 (2008), pp. 687-698.

Very interesting article, clearly in the normative/positivist’s tradition of how to do Risk Management better. Firstly the authors dissect uncertainties typically found in projects into (1) Uncertainty in estimates, (2) Uncertainty with project parties, and (3) Uncertainty with project life cycle. What does it matter? The authors argue that not all uncertainties are typically the scope of classic risk management. Therefore the project objective should be the ultima ratio, especially if trade-off decisions are needed. Furthermore crystal clear decision making needs one decision-maker, therefore project uncertainties need an owner.

In the second part (on my page 2) Atkinson et al. outline the difference between hard and soft projects. They do outline some characteristics of hard vs. soft projects, e.g. degree of external influences, tangibility of artefacts. Secondly they outline two modes of problem-solving sense-making, and data collecting. They put forward, that a problem rooted in a difference in information required vs. information at hand, calls for a data collection effort to solve; whereas a problem caused by different interpretion of the same data requires sense-making as a problem-solving technique. Moreover they locate the typical soft projects in a high ambiguity and high uncertainty quadrant, thus needing sense-making, and value analysis for problem solving.

Lastly they call for trust (especially on soft projects) instead of controls. And outline a Trust Audit as a project management tool, instead of auditing controls.