Selecting Success Criteria for Customer Solution Projects

Selecting Success Criteria for Customer Solution Projects

Ville Otra-Aho (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/IJITPM.2017100102
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Project firms are increasingly integrating tangible products and intangible services when building customer solutions aiming to increase firms' competitiveness. On the other hand, the efficient customer solutions increase firms' competitiveness only when the solution projects can utilize all of its performance potential. Efficient integration requires both the product and service oriented multi-dimensional success criteria and the context-specific performance measures. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the project professional's ability to create and prioritize the multidimensional success criteria for the customer solution projects. The results indicate that the project professionals are capable of prioritizing the success criteria for the customer solution projects. Conversely, the critical customer specific success criteria are not effectively used in the customer solution projects.
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Firms are increasingly servicizing, as adding services components to the product offerings and creating customer solutions (Baines, Lightfoot, Peppard, Johnson, Tiwari, Shehab, & Swink, 2009). Adding services has a positive impact on the project firms such as increasing project delivery performance and improving the project firms' competitiveness (Artto, Wikström, Hellström, & Kujala, 2008). On the other hand, adding services to the projects and products increases project complexity and requires efficient methods to manage the integration from a performance perspective.

Performance has been characterized as a phenomenon including operational profitability, productivity, and the other non-cost factors (Tangen, 2004). Moreover, performance aligns with the multiple organization dimensions such as operational (e.g., Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1991; Westerfeld, 2003) and strategic dimensions (e.g., Norton & Kaplan, 1992) which make it hard to commensurate and measure. Performance can be characterized as a phenomenon or a relative outcome of a measurement process which operationalize different performance dimensions. For example, to create successful customer solutions firms are required to manage customer interaction and align the customer and the project firm value creation processes in a specific context (Vandermerwe & Rada, 1988). Moreover, while projects shareholders’ interests and projects' operational environments differ significantly from each other (e.g., Turner & Cochrane, 1993) the generic frameworks such as the service quality framework (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1991) and the diverse project success criteria and measures (e.g., Basten, Joosten, & Mellis, 2011; Keegan, Eiler, & Jones, 1989; Turner & Zolin, 2012; Wateridge, 1995; Zwikael & Globerson, 2006) are required to fit tightly into a context.

The previous project business and customer solution grounded research has shifted focus from a tangible product and delivery efficiency to creating and measuring value and success created with the project product during the project process (e.g., Ahola, Laitinen, Kujala, & Wikström, 2008; Brady, Davies, & Gann, 2005; Kujala, Kujala, Turkulainen et al., 2011; Kujala, Ahola, & Huikuri, 2013; Winter & Szczepanek, 2008). At the same time, the operational project success criteria and performance measures have remained grounded mostly in the firm´s internal project processes and customers considered as opposite to the firm (Müller & Jugdev, 2012). Moreover, the researchers indicate that the success criteria and performance measures have remained generic or loosely interconnected to operations (e.g., Neely, Mills, Platts, Richars, Gregory, Bourne, & Kennerley 2000). Addressing this gap and this paper position the following research question: How can the project firms integrate the product-based and the service-based success criteria into a coherent set of the multidimensional success measures for the customer solution projects?

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