A Needle in a Haystack: Choosing the Right Development Methodology for IT Projects

A Needle in a Haystack: Choosing the Right Development Methodology for IT Projects

Chad J. Cray (Capella University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-400-2.ch020
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Abstract

Considering the high failure rate of information technology (IT) projects over the last 40 years, project managers should use all the tools at their disposal in order to make their project a success; however, more than half of all project managers fail to use a powerful tool that is readily available – a development methodology. A development methodology provides structure to a project, which facilitates communication, establishes expectations, enhances quality and promotes consistency. One potential reason project managers do not employ a development methodology is that selecting the correct methodology from among the hundreds available can be an overwhelming task. For this reason, understanding the decision-making process, and identifying those factors that influence it, is a worthwhile endeavor. While empirical research in this area is lacking, a review of the extant literature reveals several factors that are important when choosing a development methodology. In this chapter, many of these factors are identified, a model for categorizing them is proposed, and a model for selecting a methodology is presented.
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Introduction

Information technology (IT) projects are notoriously difficult to complete on time, under budget and within scope. In fact, over the last decade IT projects faced a 20 to 30 percent chance of being canceled and a 50 to 70 percent chance of exceeding their schedule or budget (Ewusi-Mensah, 1997; Kappelman, McKeeman, & Zhang, 2006). With over 50 years of research and experience in developing information systems, why are these projects so difficult to complete? One potential answer—which has received insufficient research—is that project managers use the wrong system development methodology or they fail to use one at all. As Ewusi-Mensah pointed out, projects needed “some structure [to] be imposed on the development effort to help guide the system to successful completion” (p. 76). A lack of imposed structure, or an inappropriate one, can hinder the development process and contribute to the failure of the project.

Aside from providing structure for the information system project, using a development methodology can provides other significant advantages. One such advantage is that “a quality process will result in a quality product” (Khalifa & Verner, 2000, p. 366). Development methodologies, which are a type of quality process, can instill a certain amount of rigor within the development effort. By forcing the project team to follow each step of the process, it is possible to ensure all critical tasks are completed and, perhaps more importantly, it can be used to recreate the team’s success on future projects. A successfully implemented methodology can be used as the framework on which future systems are developed. In other words, it enables the team to develop systems consistently.

Hopelain and Loesh (1985) provided yet another reason for using a development methodology; it built trust among the primary stakeholders – developers, users and management. The argument made by Hopelain and Loesh was that each of the stakeholder groups had to trust each other in order to work together to complete the project. Without this cooperation, success was unlikely. A methodology agreed on by the stakeholders facilitated cooperation since it would “more likely occur if there is a procedure in place which each group understands and believes will produce a system that meets its particular needs” (p. 43).

It would appear that the benefits of using a development methodology are prodigious, but research conducted by Fitzgerald (1998) turned up interesting and alarming statistics about the frequency with which methodologies were used in organizations. According to Fitzgerald’s research, only 40% of the organizations surveyed were using a methodology and less than 10% were using one consistently. In addition, of those not using a methodology, only 21% were considering the use of one.

Based on the complexity of organizations, information system development projects and implementing processes within an organization, it is likely that many factors contribute to the dearth of organizations using development methodologies. A potential factor is the complexity of selecting a methodology from among the hundreds of options. Guntamukkala, Wen, and Tarn (2006) noted that “project managers often face a daunting task of selecting the most appropriate software life cycle model [or development methodology] for a given project” (p. 266). A review of the extant literature identified those factors that influenced the selection of a development methodology for use within an organization. From this, a framework can be developed to facilitate the classification of those factors and a model can be constructed that illustrates how project managers can choose a development methodology that is right for their organizations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Prototype: In the context of information systems development, a prototype is a model of the system and is typically used to refine the final design of the system.

Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC): Similar to systems development methodology but extends to the maintenance and support of the system.

Information System: An amalgamation of human, hardware, software, and firmware components used to process data within organizations.

Systems Development Methodology: A logical and disciplined use of phases, processes and techniques used to create information systems.

Information Technology: The computer-based components of an information system.

Agile Development: A development methodology that favors speed, flexibility, and iterative development. Although this methodology is often employed in software development projects, it can be used in system development projects as well.

Weighted Scorecard: A method for comparing multiple choices along various factors. Each factor is given a numerical weight in order to give it more or less importance in the final comparison.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Robert K. Hiltbrand
Preface
Terry T. Kidd
Acknowledgment
Terry T. Kidd
Chapter 1
James W. Price Jr., Pamila Dembla
As exploratory research, the chapter’s aim is to assess if Sun-Tzu’s application of Taoist principles are applicable to the problem domain of... Sample PDF
The Tao To Understanding Enterprise It Project Complexity: Sun-Tzu's Five Factors Revisited
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Chapter 2
A. J. Gilbert Silvius
This chapter describes a study into the expected development of the competences of the project manager in the year 2027. The study was performed... Sample PDF
Project Management 2027: The Future of Project Management
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Chapter 3
Gregory J. Skulmoski, Francis T. Hartman
The purpose of this research was to investigate the soft competencies by project phase that IT project managers, hybrid and technical team members... Sample PDF
The Progression Towards Project Management Competence
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Chapter 4
Ralf Müller
This chapter addresses project managers’ leadership styles, mainly from the perspective of technology projects. It starts by defining and outlining... Sample PDF
Leadership in Technology Project Management
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Chapter 5
Melanie S. Karas, Mahesh S. Raisinghani, Kerry S. Webb
A project manager’s role on any project goes far beyond task-related deliverables. Although the project manager must be able to effectively manage... Sample PDF
The Importance of Leadership in Project Management
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Chapter 6
Jaby Mohammed
This chapter introduces the concept of technology management by objectives. Technology is one of the fastest moving elements in the 21st Century... Sample PDF
Technology Management by Objectives (TMO)
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Chapter 7
Gary Pan
The goal of any product is to be used. In a very real sense, people judge the success or failure of any product by the extent to which it is used by... Sample PDF
Examining Stakeholders' Roles in Influencing IT Project Cancellation Decisions
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Chapter 8
Daniel W. Surry
This chapter will discuss more than 20 system development life cycles (SDLC) found in the Information Technology project management arena, whereby... Sample PDF
Bringing the User into the Project Development Process
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Chapter 9
Evon M. O. Abu-Taieh, Asim A. El Sheikh, Jeihan M. Abu-Tayeh, Maha T. El-Mahied
This chapter uses the Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) theory and examines a business case, highlighting certain gaps in the theory. First, confusion... Sample PDF
Information Technology Projects System Development Life Cycles: Comparative Study
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Chapter 10
Francisco Chia Cua, Tony C. Garrett
This chapter introduces the Firm-Level Value Creation Model as a means of planning Information Systems projects based on their potential for... Sample PDF
Analyzing Diffusion and Value Creation Dimensions of a Business Case of Replacing Enterprise Systems
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Chapter 11
Otavio Prospero Sanchez, Alberto Luiz Albertin
In this chapter the authors investigate the management of service innovation projects; can ICT based service innovation be facilitated by... Sample PDF
IT Project Planning based on Business Value Generation
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Chapter 12
Bendik Bygstad, Gjermund Lanestedt
This chapter provides a framework for technology project implementation in systems where the human is an integral element of the completed project.... Sample PDF
Managing ICT Based Service Innovation
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Chapter 13
Katy E. Ellis
Project management is a carefully planned, organized effort to manage the resources in order to successfully accomplish specific project goals and... Sample PDF
Employee Preparation, Participation, and Performance
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Chapter 14
Jaby Mohammed, Ali Alavizadeh
This chapter provides a fundamental yet comprehensive coverage of quality management. Bringing managers and engineers the most up-to-date quality... Sample PDF
Quality Assurance in Project Management
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Chapter 15
Sohail Anwar
Project management is a carefully planned, organized effort to manage the resources in order to successfully accomplish specific project goals and... Sample PDF
Quality Management and Control
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Chapter 16
Dawn M. Owens, Deepak Khazanchi
Successful implementation of IT (information technology) projects is a critical strategic and competitive necessity for firms in all industrial... Sample PDF
Software Quality Assurance
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Chapter 17
Fayez Ahmad Albadri
An overwhelming number of Information Technology (IT) projects experience persistent problems and failures. This chapter reflects on some of the... Sample PDF
IPRM: The Integrated Project Risk Model
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Chapter 18
Technical Risk Management  (pages 283-294)
Pete Hylton
In today’s highly competitive industrial environment, many high-tech businesses are using Technical Risk Management (TRM) in their engineering... Sample PDF
Technical Risk Management
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Chapter 19
Lauren Fancher
IT projects across all sectors are relying on more iterative methodologies that can employ early and frequent assessment and evaluation processes in... Sample PDF
Early, Often, and Repeat: Assessment and Evaluation Methodology for Ensuring Stakeholder Satisfaction with Information Technology Projects
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Chapter 20
Chad J. Cray
Considering the high failure rate of information technology (IT) projects over the last 40 years, project managers should use all the tools at their... Sample PDF
A Needle in a Haystack: Choosing the Right Development Methodology for IT Projects
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Chapter 21
Mysore Narayanan
In this chapter, the author describes how one can implement and incorporate creative techniques to design, develop, document and disseminate a... Sample PDF
Project Management Assessment Methods
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Chapter 22
Mario Vanhoucke
It is well-known that well managed and controlled projects are more likely to be delivered on time and within budget. The construction of a... Sample PDF
Static and Dynamic Determinants of Earned Value Based Time Forecast Accuracy
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Chapter 23
Michele De Lorenzi
This chapter presents a technology exploration process designed to support service innovation for information and communication technologies in a... Sample PDF
Technology Exploration Process: From Technology to New Services
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Chapter 24
Henryk R. Marcinkiewicz
Three models structure the planning for technology integration into instruction. Institutional needs are assessed for three dimensions suggested in... Sample PDF
Planning for Integrating Technology
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Chapter 25
Michael Crow
Kansas State University has ensured greatly increased academic involvement in the implementation of its new student information system through the... Sample PDF
University Task Force Deepens Academic Involvement in ERP System
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Chapter 26
Joni A. Amorim, Carlos Machado, Rosana G.S. Miskulin, Mauro S. Miskulin
The production of quality educational multimedia content involves both its publication and its use, considering aspects ranging from metadata... Sample PDF
Production, Publication, and Use of Educational Multimedia Content in Brazil: Challenges and Opportunities in Real World Technology Projects
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Chapter 27
Hasan Tinmaz
Technology planning is an indispensable activity for all higher education institutions nowadays. The major purpose of the technology planning is to... Sample PDF
Instructional Technology Plans for Higher Education Institutions
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Chapter 28
Patricia McGee, Veronica Diaz
The rapid proliferation of e-learning tools that offer low or no cost investment and are not housed on institutional servers, has made it very... Sample PDF
Shifting from Classroom to Online Delivery
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Chapter 29
Bimal P. Nepal, Leslie Monplaisir
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in automotive industry are faced with the conflicting goals of creating vehicles with higher reliability... Sample PDF
Lean and Global Product Development in Auto Industry
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Chapter 30
Debra D. Orosbullard
The business world is running at a faster pace than ever before. Globalization has partnered the world and new ways of doing business to meet... Sample PDF
Future Trends: Global Projects & Virtual Teaming
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Chapter 31
Geoffrey Corb, Stephen Hellen
Social networking technologies—such as Wikis, blogs and instant messaging—are increasingly being employed in business settings to support... Sample PDF
Wiki-enabled Technology Management
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Chapter 32
Owen G. McGrath
Higher education IT project managers have always relied on user activity data as logged in one form or another. Summarized counts of users and... Sample PDF
Mining User Activity Data In Higher Education Open Systems: Trends, Challenges, and Possibilities
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