IT Project Success: The Evaluation of 142 Success Factors by IT PM Professionals

IT Project Success: The Evaluation of 142 Success Factors by IT PM Professionals

Deborah Stevenson (Northeastern State University, College of Business and Technology, Tahlequah, OK, USA) and Jo Ann Starkweather (Northeastern State University, College of Business and Technology, Tahlequah, OK, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJITPM.2017070101

Abstract

Investigation into the causes for low IT project success rates has dominated both the IT project management literature and the focus of IT project management professionals for decades. Many factors, including a variety of hard skills and soft skills, have been proposed to have an effect on IT project success. This study presented 142 such factors, collected from the IT project management literature over the past 25 years, to members of the Project Management Institute in an effort to ascertain which of these factors had the most impact on IT project success in their respective organizations. Factors were classified into 5 groups: Communication Group, Project Manager/Team Group, Project Group, Organization Group and User Group. Results indicated that 71.8% of respondents agreed that Ability to Communicate at Multiple Levels from the Project Manager/Team Group was the most important factor critical to IT project success of the 142 factors under consideration.
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Review Of The Literature

The literature review that follows will chronicle the many and varied criteria suggested as critical to project success in the scholarly literature over the last quarter century. Using the framework proposed by Belassi and Tukel (1996), we began with factor groups that addressed criteria related to the Organization, the Project, and the Project Manager/Project Team. Two additional factor groups were added that addressed criteria relevant to the enumeration of Communication skills and Users/Stakeholders. For purposes of discussion, items will be presented in groups using five categories comprised of:

  • 1.

    Project

  • 2.

    Organization

  • 3.

    Project Manager/Team

  • 4.

    Communication

  • 5.

    User/Stakeholder

As demonstrated by the previous categories, the sources of project success have expanded from the original three (iron triangle), to include micro level social psychological factors as well as macro level organizational characteristics. Clearly, the desire to achieve project success has led PM professionals to cast a wide net—to evaluate or create a metric for a plethora of attributes. The review of the literature that follows is intended to be illustrative of scholarship in each of the five aforementioned areas, but is by no means exhaustive. Additional comprehensive literature reviews on project success range from the early work of Pinto and Slevin (1988) to the more recent work of Jugdev and Muller (2005), Shenhar and Dvir (2007), and Ika (2009). In each of these endeavors, the authors attempt to synthesize and categorize the dearth of scholarship generated in the quest to elucidate the definitions, contexts, causal precedents, and a myriad of other factors posited to impact the PM success milieu.

Returning to the five categories used in the current research, if one considers the variety in the levels of analysis represented in these groupings (organizational versus individual), or the likely disparity in the point of view regarding success (e.g., project manager versus stakeholder), the complexity of discerning success is appropriately emphasized. Furthermore, considerable editorial license has been exercised in the enumeration of selected success factors (often paraphrased) in the literature review section and the selection of items offered as illustrative of a particular category or domain of project success. These editorial liberties were implemented for the purpose of maintaining the readability of the scholarly narrative (a complete, verbatim presentation of the 142 success factors appears in the analysis section).

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