Overcoming Project Management Problems

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2009

49 Pages, Grade: 68/100


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction
1.0 Background of the study
1.1. The Problem
1.2. Aims and Objective
1.3. Research Scope
1.4. Significance of the Study
1.5. Limitation of the Study

Chapter 2. Literature Review
2.1. Synopsis
2.2. Detailed Research
2.3. LR Conclusion
2.4. Way Forward

Chapter 3. Research Design and Methodology
3.1. An Overview
3.2. Research Design
3.3. Type of Research
3.4. Sampling

Chapter 4. Data Analysis
4.1. Overview
4.2. Quantitative Analysis
4.3. Qualitative Analysis
4.4. Summary of Findings

Chapter 5. Recommendations
5.1. Defining Project Success Criteria
5.2. Appropriate Project Selection
5.3. Process Enhancement
5.4. Process implementation using Standard tools
5.5. Implementation plan
5.6. Future Research

Chapter 6. Summary and Conclusion

Chapter 7. Appendix
7.1. Project Management Definitions
7.2. PMI Process Groups and Knowledge Areas Mapping
7.3. Abbreviations used:
7.4. Survey Questionnaire

Chapter 8. References and Bibliography

List of Figures

1.1 IT Showcase webcast

2.1 Process groups links in phases

2.2 Process Group Overlaps as per phases

2.3 Road Map for a Project Management Based Organization

2.4 Project Management Style

2.5 Adaptive Project Management

2.6 PMBOK PM Process Groups mapped to Agile Project Management framework

3.1 Qualitative Vs Quantitative Research

3.2 Research Activities

4.1 Response Distribution

4.2 Project Management Maturity

4.3 Tools and Technologies against the processes

4.4 Risk Assessment Responses

4.5 Cost benefit Responses

4.6 Sr. Management Involvement

4.7 Joint Project Management

4.8 Successful Project Statistics

4.9 Project Success Measures

5.0 Project Failure Characteristics

5.1 Project Management Methodologies

5.2 Iterative Delivery Process

5.3 Implementation Plan

List of Tables

2.1 Project Management Definitions

2.2 Mapping of Process Groups and knowledge Areas.

2.3 Top Problem reasons

Chapter 1. Introduction

1.0 Background of the study

In the past, organizations have underrated the importance of project management methodologies to execute and implement major projects. Study done by Standish Group CHOAS (2001) revealed that, 40 % of Information Technology (IT) projects are abandoned before completion, 33 % are adversely impacted by schedule slippages or scope creeps, and on an average 52.7 % over budgeted to 189 % of the initial estimates (Yager 2001).

Today, Project Management holds extreme significance and is been practiced by multibillion dollar corporations and non profit companies. It is evident that all projects are unique and carry variations of risks and uncertainties. Different institutions along with industry experts have defined numerous processes and methodologies to reduce uncertainties and risks involved in projects. Still unlocking the mystery of appropriate project management process in the context of the dynamic nature of each organization’s business has been a challenging subject. Needless to mention, how much time and attention each organization spends in defining precise process, but problems do occur.

This paper examines the problem encountered by Farabi Technology Middle East (FTME) an IT vendor company based in UAE, to manage external projects with predefined constraints. The purpose of this study is to analyze and readjust existing project management processes followed by IT vendors to adapt to the dynamic business environment.

1.1. The Problem

In a competitive business situation where going gets tough, the tough steal stuff, IT vendors are desperate and are willing to take up any project offered by the customer (T2P 2009). A lot of time risk assessment and complexity understanding for the project gets neglected to secure business and keep things rolling for survival.

Every standard project management methodology or process urges proper risk assessment, understanding of scope, aligning budgeted cost with schedule and resource availability prior to project initiation (Aaron 2007). Most of the external IT projects held by vendors are taken up without the prior initial research due to market pressures. The customer in such project dictates predefined scope, budget and a schedule based on their assessment. Such projects are totally ambiguous and complex to manage with conventional project management. That in itself is an intensified problem identified for the study as today’s need for more adaptability in processes than traditional processes.

1.1.1. Problem Statement (PS) - Project management processes are ineffective to tackle rigid constraints

Farabi Technology Middle East is a project driven organization that caters IT solution services to multiple organizations in the Middle East region. FTME’s applied project management processes are not effective to manage complex predefined budgeted cost and fixed schedule projects for customers.

1.1.2. PS Literature Review

Garry (2004) shows clear evidence of predefined schedule and cost constraint problem in his book by citing “Our projects are kicked off with the schedule and cost fixed - the effort very rarely drives the schedule leading to a lot of deficiencies. Management understands these factors but we just seem to have to live with it.” The problem stated has been a concern to a lot IT vendors, there are numerous studies done close to the subject. The problem still remains that internal PM processes are not too effective to have a comprehensive resolution to the challenges illustrated in the below image.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1.1: IT Showcase webcast (2008).

Project Management processes play an important role to deliver project ‘on time’, ‘in budget’ and ‘within scope’ (Pierzchalka 2006). To make a project success it’s required that all the three are achieved. In the case of the stated problem where there is no prior integration assessment of all the three required aspects, managing projects becomes very challenging.

Moreover, as Powel (2006) further added in his study, that you cannot "see" software; you are able to only see the interface that connects to it. That initiates a ‘voyage of discovery’ that does not readily support traditional schedule and cost control (Pierzchalka 2006). Furthermore as Royce (1998) stated, in today’s dynamic techno-driven environment where the customer himself is not sure about his ever changing requirements. With conventional Project Management methodology it will be ineffective to tackle such requirements.

1.2. Aims and Objective

1.2.1. Aim

The study aims to analyze and adjust existing process to the most optimal project management process to achieve maximum project success rate for the organization.

1.2.2. Objectives

1) Investigating existing nature of process problems caused due to externally imposed constraints by customers.
2) To analyze different methodologies for an effective process to achieve a higher project success rate.
3) Propose recommendations for resolution of the problem with an implementation plan that would assist in streamlining the process efficiently.

1.3. Research Scope

To have an in-depth analysis, the scope of the study covered 15 IT vendor companies in UAE. All the Project Manager’s and key project members of these companies were surveyed and interviewed to analyze the problem. The survey was based on a questionnaire related to problems they were having due to predefined constraints set by the customers.

1.3.1. Focus of the Study

Focus of the research is based on the variables for the study i.e. Project management process as the dependent variable and predefined constraints as an independent variable.

1.4. Significance of the Study

In today’s accelerated business environment, requirements change with a blink of an eye. Traditional project management methodologies worked well in predicted and mechanized previous IT environments. But in today’s ever changing and financially unstable environment traditional process are less reliable and can lead to failures. Revised specs in every phase, slashed budgets, and condensed delivery schedules tend to disregard conventional methods.

There is a need to have a process that can adapt quickly and dramatically work around any obstacles in the project phases. With the study an attempt is made to analyse and expose all the root causes that are leading to project failures. It will be significant to provide an outward facing prospective to the management to facilitate the integration of project’s success as part of business.

The study approach will highlight a deeper insight for FTME in enhancing the level of project management into their solution development projects. Out of the survey results perspective of different project managers can possibly correlate to the success rate of projects.

1.5. Limitation of the Study

The study is limited to large IT complex projects and the process issues faced by IT vendors in implementation of software solutions. It only covers the variables related to IT Project Management and the issues faced due to predefined constraint of scope, cost and schedule defined by customers. The sample is limited to IT project managers and key project members of 15 IT vendors in UAE.

Generalizations may not be derived for organizations outside the IT domain; the study is limited specifically to the vendor project management problems. Survey conducted was dependent on the reminiscence of project participants. Different project success rate relating to different organization may have a bias effect on the answers of the participants in the questionnaire.

Chapter 2. Literature Review

2.1. Synopsis

A methodological review of past literature is a crucial endeavor for any academic research citied by Webster & Watson (2002) towards literature review study. Therefore to uncover the known factors, LR of this study initially covers the concept of project management and the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) recommended methodology/ framework. Then it covers challenges of PM, due to globalization and in IT project implementation by software vendors. Finally journals of contemporary PM processes are reviewed to investigate similar problem resolution and to analyze if any of them have studied the problem defined. The central aim out of the literature review is to facilitate the study with a firm foundation for advancing knowledge.

2.2. Detailed Research

Project Management

With the maturity and changes in the project management stream, the definition has evolved over the years. Depending on the variations that exist in project management there has been continuous stages of development. Appendix 7.1 below contains a table that has a collection of definitions based on the concepts involved from different literature sources.

Project Management Methodology by PMI

Project Management Institute (PMI) is the most profound academic body considered as an entity of authority in project management field. It’s PMBOK (Project Management body of Knowledge) is considered as the bible for the field and is currently holding the rights from ANSI. There are more than 60,000 members of PMI across the globe (Robert, 2002). In the past, project management was solely used for estimating schedules and cost control of the work (Kimmons, 1994). Considering the complexity in today’s project, PMI dynamically extended the methodology in two different knowledge areas such as, “scope management, time management, risk management, cost management, quality management, human resources management, communications management, and procurement management” (Wideman, 2004). With the knowledge grouping, the process was even divided in to five phases to better manage projects, “initiation, planning, controlling, executing, and closing”. As there are many definitions of PM, there are also various methodologies/framework as per each expert definition. But by in large PMI’s methodology is considered as the base and the rest merely are unique twist to it.

The interactive processes that are considered as universal standards of the PMBOK (2008) are shown below in Figure 2.1,

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten Figure 2.1: Process groups links in phases (PMI, 2004).

Phases do overlap one another and controlling is all over in order to effectively mange the project as shown below,

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2.2: Process Group Overlaps as per phases (PMI, 2004).

The integration between the process groups and the knowledge area is illustrated in Appendix 7.2 below to understand the entire recommended process by PMI.

Project Management Challenges


“Think Globally, Act Locally” is the apt phrase in the current globalized high competitive environment. Rising global tensions and continued economic decline, has increased concerns about what will be the next dollar value (Miranda, 2003).

Globalization has transformed the world and reached to new heights of integrating all the fields into a cohesive single network with Information technology. Entire media channels and the information flow is become part of global village. All these factors have taken the expectation and demand of the end users to completely a new dimension.

With these extra ordinary end-user expectations, IT project management is encountering challenges of diverse and constant changes, shorter project life cycles, and more cost effective solution.

The capability to “reconcile business processes to be globally efficient and locally accountable” is the key to globalization challenges (Miranda, 2003).

Information Technology Implementations

By 1990, PM aspect entered the circle of providing services and solution operation in IT industry. Lot of operations were projectized that showed difference in maturity towards top down built. Emergence of project management offices having global standards were established in lot of IT corporations. As per the survey conducted by Standish group in US, relating to project management value, IT sector was concluded to have greatest opportunity of performance improvement by means of strategic organizational project mastery.

“Project management till 1990 was between a corporation and a contractor.” (Kimmons, 1990, p.15). But now it includes the interaction of numerous stakeholders along with an external vendor organization to implement jointly a solution for the organization. Today, project management is viewed as applied systems management (Rich, 2003). With the increasing IT advancement and demands from the customers, IT software companies face numerous challenges, below are the top reasons for these problems captured by Lientz & Rea(2002) in their journal of applied project management.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 2.3: Top Problem reasons (Lientz and Rea, 2000)

Many researchers pointed out, that customer visualizes application development as just a rapid fix for their business problem and system need, without considering the detail integrity of implementations. This brings a lot of customization later in the project which makes things complicated to manage. A single change later discovered and applied, consumes 80% additional resources to develop.

There is a very thin line between the project’s being profitable or not in IT implementation. Moreover customization brings a lot of issues to keep the newer versions compatible with various customized efforts.

Contemporary PM Processes

In a research done by KPMG Management Consulting (1994), participants were questioned on the range of rectifications that had been applied to information technology projects. “Three of the top four were to apply additional time, money, and people”. The resolution proposed against additional time was to implement better project management processes (Smith, 2001).

Organization Hierarchy of Enterprise Strategy

Research done by a Japanese Project Management Forum (JPMF) recommended a different organizational structure for IT projectized organization (Hiroshi, [n.d.]). The objective of this structure was to have an enterprise value creation for projects all over the organization. This claims to enhance organizational capability to sufficiently interact and follow-on with portfolio of projects, i.e. holistic reflection of project portfolio.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2.3: Road Map for a Project Management Based Organization (Hiroshi, [n.d.]).

Reinventing Project Management Style

A study on reinventing project management done by Aaron and Dov (2007), part of Harvard Business press, revealed the following critical project management style against the traditional project management to enhance the process against the challenges.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2.4: Project Management Style (Aaron and Dov 2007)

Agile Project Management

PM World Today (2008) published that a team of software gurus met at Snowbird Resort at Utah to brain storm the most effective project management process. As an outcome of the meeting, a ‘Manifesto for Agile Software Development’ was written. The base of this process was on adaptive management, defined as “structured and methodical process for continually improving decisions, management policies, and practices by learning from the outcomes of decisions previously taken”.

Adaptive Management process has the following guidelines,

- Frequent adaptation to dynamic situations, including altering customer requirements.
- Persistent teamwork in project members and with clients
- Iterative development processes.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2.5: Adaptive Project Management (PM World Today, 2008)

Highsmith(2006) readjusted the phases of PMBOK to incorporate it as per agile project management to reflect the software development life cycle, the phases were then defined as envision, speculate, explore, adapt, and close known to be quite successful in managing large complex projects.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2.6: PMBOK PM Process Groups mapped to Agile Project Management framework Highsmith (2006)


Excerpt out of 49 pages


Overcoming Project Management Problems
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Aamir Dawawala (Author), 2009, Overcoming Project Management Problems, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/134612


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