Effect of Inadequate Self-Organized Teams in Agile Project Management: A Case Study From the Oil and Gas Industry

Effect of Inadequate Self-Organized Teams in Agile Project Management: A Case Study From the Oil and Gas Industry

Sindre Gjøystdal (Stockholm University, Sweden) and Thashmee Karunaratne (Stockholm University, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJITPM.2020070106
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Building self-organizing teams in agile projects is considered an important job for project leaders. However, the reality is that building self-organized teams lacks focus as many go back to managing tasks because it is more concrete and tangible. While there are an excessive number of studies proving that developing self-organized teams has a positive contribution to project success, there is a lack of knowledge about the consequences of not doing it. This study, therefore, explores the impact inadequate self-organizing teams has on agile project success. Results have identified five failure areas in a self-organizing team that have a negative impact on three success factors in agile projects. Due to a weak direct link between success factors and success criteria, conclusions are limited to a universally applicable impact on success factors. Further research is recommended to generate a universal checklist for success criteria in agile projects that can have a direct link to the identified success factors.
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Agile project management is often associated with software development projects, but the agile philosophy comes in many forms as it is more an attitude than a specific process, and more environment than methodology (Owen, Koskela, Henrich, & Codinhoto, 2006; Conboy & Morgan, 2011). Therefore, the driving factor for the agile mindset is people, and people trump processes. This is also the reason why teams, and building self-organized teams, is considered the very core of an agile project leader’s job as they are the ones who “consistently deliver on the product vision within the project constraints” (Highsmith, 2009, p. 51). Self-organizing teams promote the key business objectives for agile project management and are essential for the success of agile projects. However, despite the undisputed importance in building self-organizing teams in agile projects, it lacks focus among many projects leaders (Moe, Dingsøyr, & Dybå, 2008). Building self-organized teams can be very challenging, and different barriers for building tasks have been identified in previous research (Moe, Dingsøyr, & Dybå, 2009). Accordingly, for many project leaders, the concept of having self-organized teams seem fuzzy, messy and un-definable. This has also been followed by questions about the goodness of self-organizing teams as it has been confused with anarchy. Given the widespread problem that building self-organizing teams lack focus in many organizations (Moe, Dingsøyr, & Dybå, 2008), related literature lack the knowledge to what negative consequences this might result in. This study will, therefore, aim to explore the impact inadequate self-organizing teams have on agile projects success. It needs to be determined if self-organizing teams in agile projects are not just a contributing factor for success, but rather a necessity to avoid adverse problems. Therefore, the following question is addressed: How are inadequate self-organized teams impacting the success of agile projects? And investigate What are the failure areas for self-organizing teams that make them inadequate? And, how does the failure areas impact the critical success factors?

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