The Tao To Understanding Enterprise It Project Complexity: Sun-Tzu's Five Factors Revisited

The Tao To Understanding Enterprise It Project Complexity: Sun-Tzu's Five Factors Revisited

James W. Price Jr. (Kennesaw State University, USA) and Pamila Dembla (Kennesaw State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-400-2.ch001
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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 Enterprise Resource Planning Management (ERPM). It argues that an ERP’s complexity not only shares conceptually The Art of War’s historical context, but also can be understood to be a disequilibrium force best understood using Taoist principles. Sun-Tsu’s The Art of War (AW) has been adapted successfully to the military domain (MD); and, MD has been adapted to strategic management (SM). If an ERP’s business drivers can be mapped to a firm’s strategic goals, one may conclude Sun-Tzu’s Art of War can be adapted to an ERP implementation (AW?MD?SM?ERP). Therefore, the authors hope to explore the applicability of Sun-Tzu’s Five Factors of Initial Estimation (Five Factors), an Eastern philosophy (a non-linear thought process) to ERP-related Western-oriented project management techniques (a linear thought process).
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In spite of advances in project management, statistics and lessons learned from past failures, “…big IT projects, whether major technology installations or new growth strategies fail at an astonishing rate. These efforts consume tremendous resources over months or even years and the toll they take is not just financial…” (Marchewka, 2006, pp.109-114). The myriad of strategic goals for an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation include, afforded business process reengineering, enabled ability to derive additional value from supply chain, enhanced ability to future e-Commerce integration as well as integration with other internal business information systems, improved management of inventory costs, enabled replacement in part or whole legacy systems, empowered management of multinational enterprise competitiveness on a per unit basis, enhancing enterprise images, and further evolution of the e-business strategy. With such varied strategic drivers, ERP implementation rests on a host of forces whose impact can vary considerably from company to company (Fang & Lin, 2006) . Though ERP systems are considered as technically complex projects, failure to plan well has been identified as the main obstacle to effectively deploying large-scale systems (Chen, 2001; McAfee, 2003; Muscatello & Parente, 2006).

If research has concluded that ERP implementations are challenged not by the technology, instead by lack of planning; one might conclude top management’s failure to plan may be related to its lack of understanding an ERP’s true nature. Instead of reinventing the wheel with another paradigm, top management may find it efficient and effective to explore eastern philosophies accumulation of over five thousand years of knowledge on achieving balance in dynamic environments (e.g. Chou I (Book of Changes), Confucius, Lao-Tzu, Sun-Tzu and others). Thus, this paper’s aim is to explore the applicability of Sun-Tzu’s Five Factors of Initial Estimation (Five Factors), an Eastern philosophy (non-linear thought process) to ERP-related Western-oriented project management techniques (linear thought process).

The chapter’s format is as follows: First, the underlying conceptual foundation is developed by exploring Sun-Tzu’s historical context. Second, a logical reasoning is offered as to why Sun-Tzu’s teachings may be applicable to ERPM. Then, an attempt to map terminology between the Art of War and project management entities is offered as bridge to developing a model. This is followed by a discussion of three case studies and case analysis. In closing, the ERPM Five Factors of Analysis (working model) will be explained. The model serves as merely a novel first step to understanding ERP’s complexity using a non-linear process. The paper’s concludes with a discussion of its Implications and Conclusion.

As shown in Figure 1, Sun-Tzu’s Five Factors consist of Tao, Heaven, Earth, General, and Laws (Sawyer, 1996). The research goal of this paper is to compare and create a working model for Enterprise IT Project Management (a linear thought process) with the help of Sun-Tzu’s Five Factors of Initial Estimation Approach (a non-linear process). Figure 2 will be re-introduced later in the paper with additional detail to further capture Sun-Tzu and Taoist’s teachings.

Figure 1.

Sun-Tzu’s Five Factors of initial estimations

Figure 2.

Traditional single factor classification

Key Terms in this Chapter

Taoism (also spelled Daoism): refers to a variety of related thoughts and spiritual traditions and concepts. These traditions have inspired East Asia for over two thousand years and some have spread internationally.

Framework: is a basic conceptual composition used to solve or address complicated issues.

Sun Tzu: is the author of the Art of War and a legendary figure in China. He had a great impression on Chinese and Asian history and culture

The Art of War: is said to have been written by Sun Tzu. It presents a complete philosophy of war for managing conflicts and winning clear victories. It is widely accepted as a masterpiece on strategy and has been referenced by generals and theorists throughout history.

EnterpriseResource Planning (ERP): systems in businesses maintain a single database for the data needed for a variety of business functions such as Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management, Financials, Projects, Human Resources and Customer Relationship Management. ERP systems are also referred to as Enterprise Information Technology Projects.

China: is one of the world’s oldest uninterrupted civilizations, consisting of states and cultures dating back more than six millennia.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Robert K. Hiltbrand
Terry T. Kidd
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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