The process of project implementation, involving the successful development and introduction of projects in the organization, presents an ongoing challenge for managers. The project implementation process is complex, usually requiring simultaneous attention to a wide variety of human, budgetary, and technical variables. As a result, the organizational project manager is faced with a difficulties characterized by role overload, frenetic activity, fragmentation, and superficiality.
Often the typical project * Portions of this chapter were adapted from Dennis P. Sliven and Jeffrey K. Pinto, Balancing Strategy and Tactics in Project Implementation’, Sloan Management Review, Fall, 1 987, up. 33-41, and Randall L. Schultz, Dennis p. Sliven, and Jeffrey K. Pinto, ‘Strategy and Tactics in a Process Model of Project Implementation”, Interfaces, 16:3, May-June, 1987, up. 34-46. T copyright 0 1987 by Jeffrey K. Pinto and Dennis P. Sieving. ** Dennis P. Sliven is an Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.
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He holds a B. A. In Mathematics from SST. Vincent College, a B. S. In Physics from M. I. T. , an M. S. In Industrial Administration from Carnegie-Mellon, and a Ph. D. From Stanford University. He has had extensive experience as a line manager, including service as the CEO of four different companies, which qualified him as a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. He presently serves as a director of several corporations, and consults widely. He publishes in numerous professional journals, and is co-editor of Implementing Operations Research Management Science; The Management of Organizational Design,
Volumes I and II; and Producing Useful Knowledge. He has written the pragmatic Executive Survival Manual for practicing managers. $ Jeffrey K. Pinto is Assistant Professor of Organization Theory at the College of Business Administration, University of Cincinnati. He received his B. A. In History and B. S. In Business from the University of Maryland, M. B. A. And Ph. D. From the University of Pittsburgh. He has published several papers in a variety of professional journals on such topics as project management, implementation, instrument development, and research methodology. Nagger has responsibility for successful project outcomes without sufficient power, budget, or people to handle all of the elements essential for project success. Len addition, projects are often initiated in the context of a turbulent, unpredictable, and dynamic environment. Consequently, the project manager would be well served by more information about those specific factors critical to project success. The project manager requires the necessary tools to help him or her focus attention on important areas and set differential priorities across different project elements.
If it can be demonstrated that a set of actors under the project manager’s control can have a significant impact on project implementation success, the project manager will be better able to effectively deal with the many demands created by his job, channeling his energy more efficiently in attempting to successfully implement the project under development. This chapter reports on a program of research that has developed the following tools and/or concepts for the practicing project manager. A set of ten empirically derived critical project implementation success factors.
A diagnostic instrument-the Project Implementation Profile (PIP) for measuring he ten factors. A ten-factor model of the project implementation process. Measures of the key elements of project Strategy-and Tactics. The effect of Strategy and Tactics on project implementation success. The impact Of the project life cycle on the relative importance of the critical success factors. In addition, we propose that as the project moves forward through its life cycle, the project manager must be able to effectively transition from strategic to tactical issues in order to better influence project success.
Implications are suggested for practicing managers align with specific approaches to managing the strategy-tactics interface. DEFINITIONS Before attempting a discussion of the project implementation process, it is first important that some of the key concepts in this chapter be adequately defined, in an effort to remove some of the ambiguity from concepts which are often subject to a wide range of individual interpretations. What Is a Project? While almost everyone has had experience with projects in one form or another, developing a definition of what exactly a project is is often dif- cult.
Any definition of a project must be general enough to include examples f the wide variety of organizational activities which managers consider to be “project functions. ” However, the definition should be narrow fought to include only those specific activities which researchers and practitioners can meaningfully describe as “project-oriented . ‘I Two of the many definitions of projects that have been offered may be considered as follows: A project is an organization of people dedicated to a specific purpose or objective.
Projects generally involve large, expensive, unique, or high risk undertakings which have to be completed by a certain date, for a certain mount of money, within some expected level of performance. At a minimum, all projects need to have well defined objectives and sufficient resources to carry out all the required tasks. (24, p. 498) The second definition is offered by Iceland and Serener (7), in their work A Project Management Dictionary of Terms, and includes the following characteristics: [A project is] A combination of human and nonhuman resources pulled together in a temporary organization to achieve a specified purpose. 7, p. 199) A project, then, can be defined as possessing the following characteristics: A fined beginning and end (specified time to completion). Specific, preordained goal or set of goals. Series of complex or interrelated activities. Limited budget. What Is Successful Project Implementation? In addition to defining the concept of organizational projects, it is important, before attempting any discussion of the steps leading to a successful project, to describe just exactly what a “successful project” is. Project implementation success has been defined many ways to include a large variety of criteria.
However, in its simplest terms, project success can be thought of as incorporating four basic facets. A project is generally considered to be successfully implemented if it Comes in on-schedule (time criterion). Comes in on-budget (monetary criterion). Achieves basically all the goals originally set for it (effectiveness criterion). Is accepted and used by the clients for whom the project is intended (client satisfaction criterion). By its basic definition, a project comprises a defined time frame to completion, a limited budget, and a specified set of performance char’. Restricts. Further, the project is usually targeted for use by some client, either internal or external to the organization and its project team. It seems reasonable, therefore, that any assessment of project implementation success should include these four measures. The Project Life Cycle One method that has been used with some regularity in order to help managers conceptualize the work and budgetary requirements of a project is to make use of the idea of the project life cycle. The concept of the life cycle is familiar to most modern managers.
Life cycles are used to explain the rise and demise of organizations, phases in the sales life of a product, etc. In a animal fashion, managers often make use of the life-cycle concept as a valuable tool for better understanding the stages in a project and the likely materials requirements for the project through each distinct phase. Figure 20-1 shows an example of a project life cycle. This representation of the project life cycle is based on the work of Adams and Brandt (1) and King and Iceland (10). As can be seen, the project’s life cycle has been divided into four distinct stages, including: 1 .
Conceptualization-The initial project stage. At this stage a project is determined as being necessary. Preliminary’ goals and alternatives are pacified, as well as the possible means to accomplish those goals. 2. Planning-This stage involves the establishment of a more formalized set of plans to accomplish the initially developed goals. Among planning activities are scheduling, budgeting, and the allocation of other specific tasks and resources. 3. Execution-The third stage involves the actual “work” of the project.
Materials and resources are procured, the project is produced, and performance capabilities are verified. 4. Termination-once the project is completed, there are several final activities that must be performed. These activities usually include. He release of resources and transfer of the project to the clients and, if necessary, the reassignment of project team personnel. Phase I Conceptualization Phase II Planning Time Phase Ill Execution Phase IV Termination Figure 20-1 . Stages in the project life cycle. (Based on Adams and Brandt; King and Iceland (1 01 . As Figure 20-1 also shows, in addition to the develop meet of four project stages, the life cycle specifies the level of organ cantonal effort necessary to adequately perform the tasks associated with each project stage. Organizational effort can be measured using surrogates such as amount of an-hours, expenditures, assets deployed, or other measures of organizational resource utilization. As one would suspect, during the early Conceptualization and Planning stages, effort requirements are minimal, increasing rapidly during late Planning and project Execution, before diminishing again in the project’s Termination.
As a result, the concept of project life cycles can be quite useful to a manager, not only in terms of didst anguishing among the stages in the project’s life, but also through indicating likely resource requirements to be expected at each stage. P DEVELOPMENT OF THE TEN-FACTOR MODEL OF PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION Project information was obtained from a group of over 50 managers who had some project involvement within the last two years.
Participants were asked to consider a successful project with which they had been involved and then to put themselves in the position of a project manager charged with the responsibility of successful project implementation. They were then asked to indicate things that they could do that would substantially help implementations success. This procedure, sometimes called Project Echo, was developed by Alex Babbles (4). Responses were then sorted into categories by two experts. Both experts sorted the responses into etc categories and integrate agreement based on percentage of responses similarly sorted across the total number was 0. 0, or 1 19 cut. Cuff 236. Eliminating duplications and miscellaneous responses, a total of 94 usable responses were classified across 10 factors. These 10 factors formed the basis for the conceptual model and the diagnostic instrument for measuring relative strength of each factor. The first factor that was developed was related to the underlying purpose for the implementation and was classified Project Mission. Several authors have discussed the importance of clearly beefing goals at the outset of the project. Morris (15) classified the initial stage of project management as consisting of a feasibility decision.
Are the goals clear and can they succeed? Breach’s (3) six-step implementation process begins with instructions to state the plan and its objectives. For both these authors and the purposes Of Our study, Project Mission has been found to refer to the condition where the goals of the project are clear and understood, not only by the project team involved, but by the other departments in the organization. Underlying themes of responses classified onto this factor include statements concerning clarification of cargo a c well as belief in the likelihood of project success. The second factor discerned was that of Top Management Support.
As noted by Schultz and Sliven (1 9), management support for projects, or indeed for any implementation, has long been considered of great importance in distinguishing between their ultimate success or failure. Beck (6) sees project management as not only dependent on top management for authority, direction, and support, but as ultimately the conduit for implementing top management’s plans, or goals, for the organization. Further, Manley (14) shows that the degree of management support for a project will lead to significant variations in the clients’ degree of ultimate acceptance or resistance to that project or product.
For the purposes of our classification, the factor Top Management Support refers to both the nature and amount of support the project manager can expect from management both for himself as leader and for the project. Management’s support of the project may involve aspects such as allocation of sufficient resources (financial, manpower, time, etc. ) as well as the project manager’s confidence in their purport in the event of crises. The third factor to be classified was that of Project Schedulable. Project schedule refers to the importance of developing a detailed plan of the required stages of the implementation process.
Ginsberg (8) has drawn parallels between the stages of the implementation process and the Lenin (12) model of Unfreezing-Moving- Freezing, viewing planning and scheduling as the first step in the “Moving” stage. Kola and Frogman’s (11) model of the consulting process views planning as a two-directional stage, NC only as necessary to the forward-going change process, but as an additional link to subsequent evaluation and possible reentry into the Watt (1 6 ) further emphasizes the importance of process planning breaking down planning into four stages: formulation, conceptualization, detailing, and evaluation.
As developed in our model, Project Schedule/ Plans refers to the degree to which time schedules, milestones, manpower, and equipment requirements are specified. Further, the schedule should include a satisfactory measurement system as a way of judging actual performance against budget and time allowances. The fourth factor that was determined is labeled Client Consultation. The “client” is referred to here as anyone who will ultimately be making use of the result of the project, as either a customer outside the company or a department within the organization.
The need for client consultation has been found to be increasingly important in attempting to successfully implement a project. Indeed, Manley (14) found that the degree to which clients are personally involved in the implementation process will cause great variation in their support for that project. Further, in the context of the consulting process, Kola and Frogman (1 1) view client consultation as the first tags in a program to implement change. As this factor was derived for the model, Client Consultation expresses the necessity of taking into account the needs of the future clients, or users, of the project.
It is, therefore, important to determine whether clients for the project have been identified. Once the project manager is aware of the major clients, he is better able to accurately determine if their needs are being met. The fifth factor was concerned with Personnel issues, including recruitment, selection, and training. (See Table 20-1 . ) An important, but often overlooked, aspect of the implementation process concerns the nature of the personnel involved. In many situations, personnel for the project team are chosen with less-than-full regard for the skills necessary to actively contribute to implementation success.
Some current writers on implementations are including the personnel variable in the equation for project team performance and project success. Hammond (9) has developed a contingency model of the implementation process which includes “people” as a situational variable whose knowledge, skills, goals, and personalities must be considered in assessing the environment of the organization. Only after such a diagnosis takes place can the project management team begin to set objectives and design the implementation approach.
For the model, Personnel, as a factor, is concerned with developing a project team with the requisite skills to perform their function. Further, it is important to determine whether project management has built sufficient commitment toward project success on the part of team members. The sixth factor to be discussed was labeled Technical Tasks. It is Table 20-1 . Factor definitions. A 1. Project ,libations-illicit clearly defined gods and general directions. . Top ? a n a g e m e h Support-willingness of top management to provide the necessary t resources and authoritatively for project success. . Project Schedulable-A detailed specification of the individual actions steps for. Project implementation. 4. Client Consultation-communication, consultation, and active listening to all impacted parties. 5. Personnel-Recruitment, selection, and training of the necessary personnel for the project team. 6. Technical Tasks-Availability Of the required technology and expertise to accomplish the specific technical action steps. 7. Client Acceptance-The act of “selling” the final project to its ultimate intended users. 8.
Monitoring and Feedback-Timely provision of comprehensive control information at each stage in the implementation process. 9. Communication-The provision of an appropriate network and necessary data to all key actors in the project implementation. ID. Troubleshooting-Ability to handle unexpected crises and deviations from plan. Source: Sliven and Pinto, (1986, up. 57-58), From the article “The Project Implementation Profile: New Tool for Project Managers” which appeared in Project Management Journal, September, 1986. Important that the implementation be well managed by people who understand the project.
In addition, there must exist adequate technology to support the project. Technical Tasks refers to the necessity of not only having the necessary personnel for the. Implementation team, but ensuring that they possess the necessary technical skills and have adequate technology to perform their tasks. Steven Alter (2), writing on implementation risk analysis, identifies two of the eight risk factors as being caused by technical incompatibility: the user’s unfamiliarity with the systems or technology, and cost ineffectiveness.
In addition to Client Consultation at an earlier stage in the project implementation process, it remains of ultimate importance to determine whether the clients for whom the project has been initiated will accept it. Client Acceptance refers to the final stage in the implementation process, at which time the ultimate efficacy of the project is to be determined. Too often project managers make the mistake of believing that if they handle the other stages of the implementation process well, the client (either internal or external to the organization) will accept the resulting project.
In fact, as several writers have shown, client acceptance is a stage in project implementation that must be managed like any other. As an implementation strategy, Lucas (13) discusses the importance of user participation in the early stages of system development as a way of improving the likelihood of later acceptance. Bean and Radon (5) examine the use of “intermediaries” to act as a liaison between the designer, or implementation team, and the project’s potential users as a method to aid in client acceptance. The eighth factor to be considered is that of Monitoring and Feedback.
Monitoring and Feedback refer to the project control processes by which at each Stage of the project implementation, key personnel receive feedback on how the project is comparing to initial projections. Making allowances for adequate monitoring and feedback mechanisms gives the project manager the ability to anticipate problems, to oversee corrective measures, and to ensure that no deficiencies are overlooked. Such Lutz and Sliven (19) demonstrate the evolving nature of implementation and mudslinging paradigms to have reached the state including formal feedback channels between the model builder and the user.
From a budgeting perspective, Soused et al. (23) emphasize the importance of constant monitoring and “fine-tuning” of the process of implementation. For the model, Monitoring and Feedback refers not only to project schedule and budget, but to monitoring performance of members of the project team. The ninth factor was that of Communication. The need for adequate communication channels is extremely important in creating an atmosphere for successful project implementation. Communication is not only essential within the project team itself, but between the team and the rest of the organization as well as with the client.
As the factor Communication has been developed for the model, it refers not only to feedback mechanisms, but the necessity of exchanging information with both clients and the rest of the organization concerning project goals, changes in policies and procedures, status reports, etc. The tenth and final factor to emerge from classification of the model is Trouble Shooting. As the participants in the study often pointed out, problem areas exist in almost every implementation. Regardless of how carefully the project was initially planned, it is impossible to foresee every trouble area or problem that could possibly arise.
As a result, it is important that the project manager make adequate initial arrangements for ‘troubleshooting” mechanisms to be included in the implementation plan. Such mechanisms make it easier not only to react to problems as they arise, but to foresee and possibly forestall potential trouble areas in the implementation process.