Lessons Learnt when Holistically Approaching Project Management

Lessons Learnt when Holistically Approaching Project Management

Maria Alexandra Rentroia-Bonito (GENEQ Consulting Group, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch504
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Background

Project Management still represents nowadays a challenge for organizations, despite research efforts during last decades (Martinsuo, 2013). While practitioners are gradually mastering the involved processes, techniques and tools suggested by the literature and best practices in the field (PMI, 2008), current research is providing some conceptual frameworks to better understand project complexities (Meskendahl, 2010; Söderlund, 2004). However there is still need for operational frameworks that can help situate project dynamics at the operational level. Indeed, light methodological approaches are suggested by literature to help project managers to hold a holistic view on the many factors that affect the management of projects, programs and portfolio within their environments (Rodney, Ledwith, & Kelly, 2010; Söderlund, 2004).

Further, the dynamics of a project management unit, one involving portfolio, program and project management, is still not well understood, since it goes beyond the rational view of achieving strategic goals. Some studies have suggested the rational and intuitive nature of their decision-making processes when coordinating and controlling multiple projects that pursue same strategic goals and share resources to adjust portfolio to organizational circumstances and constraints (Martinsuo, 2013). The lack of more operational frameworks has limited return on invested efforts for organizations, since IT failure rate is still high (Killen, Jugdev, Drouin, & Petit, 2012) Therefore, a better understanding of the situated nature of projects by project-management teams could yield cost-effective insights to achieve a more ambitious goal within project environments: reduce IT failure and improve user acceptance rate while, sharing project knowledge and learning.

The reviewed literature describes the required interplay between behavioral (individual intentions, attitudes, beliefs, contributions) and organizational aspects of contexts (culture, HR policies and procedures, leadership styles and business strategies) (Bredillet, Yatim, & Ruiz, 2010; Walker, 1992). Clearly, more research is needed to better understand portfolio and project performance within a holistic but more operational framework.

This kind of framework should cover the interplay among three dimensions: Project-focused management process (strategically and operationally aligned with the other business processes through goals and tasks), People (covering key behavioral variables when performing specific project roles and interacting with people and supporting systems) and Technology (developed to satisfy business and user requirements).

Key Terms in this Chapter

PM Evaluation Method and Related Tools: Has as a basic purpose to help project managers assess, in a structured way, the conditions in which their project develop within their respective business environments. This method has three phases (Structure & Behaviors, Data processing, and Proposed actions) and required tools (Data collection, and Processing tools). When applied at project or portfolio level, they help create a shared understanding on portfolio domain and its context of implementation (challenges, goals, common risks, deliverables, technology, benefits and the like).

Project Situatedness: Assesses the unique set of organizational conditions in which each project develops. The conditions relate to the interrelations shown in the conceptual framework. This metric is calculated as a weighted mean of PWC survey responses (See Table 2 in the Appendix): The higher the metric, the better the project is situated within the organizational context, mitigating internal risks.

PM Holistic Framework: Comprises the basic conceptual elements that integrates the contextual and behavioral aspects of the project's environments, providing a better understanding of its dynamics and performance.

Contextual Aspects: Cover the most important factors that shape and become characteristics of organizational dynamics such as culture, values, leadership style, business strategies, organization of work, management practices, current technology, workforce competency level, and business process architecture, among others.

Project-Focused Management (PfM) Process Fit: Involves the alignment of Project-focused management process with the Business process architecture in order to influence the cost-effectiveness of business operations when achieving strategic goals (e.g. resource allocation, skill development, vendor management, and internal communication). The higher the PfM process fit, the more efficient is the organizational focus on project management.

Behavioural Aspects: Covers the responses of an individual to adapt to his/her environment, including the definition of personal goals, learning new skills, adjusting responses to specific events.

Project Strategic Fit: Involves the alignment of the project with macro-organizational level elements (e.g. vision, cultural values, business strategies, and process architecture).

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