Published: Thu, 12 Oct 2017
Advancements Into New State Of Knowledge
Innovative advancements into new state of knowledge can only be actualised if the current state of knowledge is known.
As Ethridge (2004 pp 113) puts it
“…whatever the research topic, others have conducted research that is related to that topic…”
A review of the literature therefore addresses past researches that has been done in the particular subject area with a view of providing the researchers with information into what has already been done, issues that have not been addressed and factors that needs to be considered in lieu of the present research (Smith 2005). The literature review therefore is an integral part of the project life cycle as already shown in Figure 1 and would be underpinned under the following research objectives.
To assess the needs and benefits of PRINCE2 methodology.
To describe the PRINCE2 processes.
To examine how the PRINCE2 processes can improve project delivery.
To Identify or develop appropriate conceptual frameworks against which project delivery can be evaluated.
The literature review in this report basically has three parts-introduction which explained what the review is all about and the reasons it is being done; the body, which addressed the relevant themes of the research objectives; and summary and conclusion, where the disparate elements of the review is summarized and further research areas proposed (Thomas, Jack, and Silverman 2005).
A work breakdown structure was developed for the literature review and is illustrated in Figure X.
The pressure on project managers to deliver successful projects has been on the rise in the last couple of years. This in turn means that project managers must look inward and employ a creative, secure, consistent, well proven approach and innovative ways to deliver successful project (OGC 2009). One way project managers can achieve this is by the adoption of a project methodology (Ferraro 2008) in the management of projects within the organisation.
Turner (2000) defined a methodology as:
“….a structured approach for delivering a project, and consists of a set of processes, with each process having clearly defined resources and activities…”
To Charvat (2003), it is:
“…process that documents a series of steps and procedures to bring about the successful completion of a project…”
These steps and procedures are carried out in a repetitive manner across the entire project life cycle and describe how things should be done (Schwalbe 2009) to achieve project management excellence or maturity (Kerzner 2009), thereby providing a roadmap for managing projects (KLR 2010).
It does appear that Charvat (2003) and Kerzner (2009) both share similar view that the adoption and use of a project methodology is not necessarily a quick fix solution to the surge in project failures ranging from lack of adequate support to inadequate planning of resources, insufficient measurable and unclear goals. This can be best explained by the situation where every project stakeholders do not have the same understanding of the project requirement (Bellis 2003) and as a result, those involved will not be certain about their roles and responsibility.
It has been argued for more than a decade that a project methodology provides an effective and efficient way in which such failures can be avoided (Kliem and Ludin 1997) and more recently that a project methodology provides a means in which projects are completed on time, on schedule and within acceptable cost (Bellis 2003). However, the validity of these arguments will be evaluated by the researcher during the course of this report.
As mentioned earlier before, project methodology helps in the management of project in a repeatable fashion and so the same approach can be applied to each and every project that is undertaken by the project manager. This will go a long way in guiding the project in the right direction through a controlled, well managed, repeated set of activities that will eventually culminate in efficient project delivery.
With a clear definition of what a project methodology is and after determining the rationale why it should be used, the advantages will now be explored to ensure that the benefits far outweighs the cost of implementation. These benefits will be explored in the next section.
Benefits of Project Methodology
The use and application of project methodology in the management of projects is beneficial because it gives organisations the framework to practice established and standardised procedures (PMDEV 2007); provide guidelines and instructions for leading, defining, planning, organising, controlling and closing the project (Kliem and Ludin 1997) as well as controlling of budget and resources, effective management and planning of project and provision of a consistent method of reporting (Zmud 1980). The lack of use on the other hand can give rise to an overall poor project delivery and organisational lapses in the project (Abbasi and Al-Mharmah 2002) but the benefits far outweighs the disadvantages when client satisfaction and trust which in turn gives rise to increase in profit (Kerzner 2004 and Naughton and Kavanagh, 2005) is taken into consideration.
Table Y summarises the numerous benefits of project methodology categorised by communication, planning, risk, learning and development and maturity.
KLIEM AND LUDIN
Better communication as to “what” is expected from project team members and “when”
Increase in the level of collaboration among all project stakeholders.
It provides a standardized approach for managing projects. With greater standardization comes less confusion because participants in the project communicate on the same ‘wavelength’. People can identify and respond to risks with less confusion.
Realistic plans with greater possibilities of meeting time frames
Stipulates clear procedures for developing project plans that allow better control of the project throughout its life cycle.
It enables project managers to respond more effectively to changing conditions because the methodology provides the necessary guidelines and instructions. Following the guidelines and instructions and even tailoring them when dealing with risks does not mean rigidity or fluidity. It means adaptability and flexibility.
Better risk management which leads to better decision making
Reduces the impact that risks have on the project
It improves communications, a concomitant of standardization. People use the same jargon, forms, and reports when working in a project. Better communications allows greater sharing of information which, in turn, leads ti improved ways to identify risks and responds to them.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Feedback: lessons learned
Provides a common approach and a consistent discipline for how projects are planned and implemented in the organisation
It results in greater productivity. Standardization, better responsiveness, improved communications, and reasonable expectations mean less complexity, confusion, and conflict on projects. that, in turn, reduces opportunities for external and self-induced risks from occurring or having a significant impact on project results.
Benchmarking/continuous improvement made easier and quicker.
Permits accurate predictions of project resource requirements and avoids duplication of efforts
It provides better expectations of results. Implementing processes in the manner described in a methodology gives participants some reasonable expectations of what the results might be.
Having understood the benefits of utilising project methodology, the next thing that comes to mind is to go ahead and utilise it, but this can only be done by choosing the right one. This will be addressed in the next section
SELECTING A PROJECT METHODOLOGY
The need for project methodologies in the management of projects cannot be overemphasised owing from the benefits associated with such implementation as can be clearly seen in Table Y. The bottom line perhaps lies in the fact that such implementations are the foundations to successful management of project, provided the cost of implementing such methodology is commensurate with the attendant benefits.
As stated before, the project methodology an organisation adopts depends on the project type, size, budget, risks, complexity, duration and industry in which the company implementing it is operating. In the same vein, the criticality of the project, number of people involved and project priorities should also be considered. (Cockburn 1999). Based on this understanding therefore, there are over a dozen project methodologies available to choose from. However, Charvat (2003) argues that there hardly exist a one-size-fits-all methodology, the onus still falls on project managers to tailor the chosen methodology to suit the individual project needs (Cheema and Shahid 2010) since that the traditions and policies of the organisations as well as the experiences, principles and fears of the project stakeholders (Cockburn 2000) be kept in mind as well.
It can be seen that emotional issues and personal biases among stakeholders play a vital role in determining the selection of an appropriate project methodology. Perhaps, what constitutes this selection should rather be whether the methodology under evaluation will improve the overall project performance (KLR 2010). One of such methodology is PRINCE2, a de facto project management methodology used in the United Kingdom and worldwide for the management of projects.
The next section examines the PRINCE2 methodology in detail and also the benefits of its application in projects.
PRINCE2, an acronym for “PRojects IN Controlled Environment”, is a project management methodology that has gained popularity over the years, having enjoyed discourse from many authors. The existing literature focuses on divergent areas including: origins of PRINCE2 (Pincemaille 2008, Charvat 2003, Haughey 2010); why the PRINCE2 methodology should be adopted (Sowunmi 2007, Clarkson 2010, and Yeong 2009); the benefits and disadvantages (APMG, 2002, Haughey 2010 and OGC 2010); the PRINCE2 processes (Cheah 2010, OGC 2009 and Pincemaille 2008) and the companies already implementing it (Haughey 2010, Charvat 2003).
In the light of this, PRINCE2 which was birthed in the United , is now being used in other countries like Holland, Germany, Denmark, Australia, South Africa (APMG 2002, Haughey 2010) and more recently China (England 2006). This had further necessitated an increase in the proliferation of literatures on PRINCE2. Yet, little research has sought to determine if the companies using it are deriving the expected results from it.
The focus of this research therefore is on Ericsson, one of the companies who have adopted PRINCE2 in managing its network roll out projects and to evaluate the contribution to project delivery. Perhaps, the most important reason why PRINCE2, originally a standard for IT project management (Charvat 2003, England 2006 and Pharro 2008), is being widely used and recongised in other industries is that it could be applied or tailored to fit into any company’s project regardless of size, type, organizational culture (OGC 2009, Murray and Ward 2007 and Bentley 2010) and the fact that it is no license is required for using it (Charvat 2003). In addition, PRINCE2 was developed based on the expertise, lessons learned and years of experiences of other project managers (OGC 2002, Dalcher and Brodie 2007 and Bentley 2009). It does appear all these contribute to why it should be considered as a methodology of choice by project managers.
One thing to bear in mind, however is that PRINCE2 alone cannot deliver successful projects (DSDM Consortium 2003 and Hutchings 2010) because areas such as leadership and people management skills and detailed coverage of project management tools and techniques are not covered (Hedeman, Heemst and Fredriksz 2006, OGC 2009 and IT Governance Institute 2007).
Such findings might suggest a general apathy towards the PRINCE2 methodology but becomes unsustainable when the-potential benefits are considered.
Benefits of PRINCE2 Methodology
The implementation of PRINCE2 in the management of projects and the subsequent attendant benefits have been widely explored over the years by numerous literatures on the subject matter. Perhaps, one underpinning benefit is fact that it is widely recongised and understood and so could be applied to any type of project (Charvat 2003, Bentley 2006, OGC 2007 and Blokdijk 2008).
It has been argued that the strength of PRINCE2 lies on its focus on the business case (Webber and Webber 2007; Bentley 2009; Wout et al 2010) because of the assumption that the business case provides a means of justifying the project and giving assurances that the rationale of executing the project is met. More recently, this assumption is changing as Graham (2010) stressed the need to separate the business benefits from projects justification, for the singular reason that providing justification does not necessarily translate to actualizing the business benefits for the project.
To this end therefore using PRINCE2 goes a step further to ensure that there is focus on the viability of the project to the business objectives rather than focusing solely on the end product itself (OGC 2009). Additionally, its reliance on proven and established best practice and project management governance (Sodipo 2009; OGC2007; Bellis 2003) leads to greater control of human and financial resources, the ability to manage risks more effectively, active involvement of project stakeholders, well structured reporting, learning and continued organizational maturity (Hedeman, Heest and Fredrikz 2006, OGC2009).
“….PRINCE2 is …..generic,….. has a common language that crosses industry and geographical boundaries, is ‘tried and tested’, repeatable and teachable..with a wealth of experience, resources, education and consultancy available [and]…….[a] risk management tool for organizations that wish to change/transform with efficacy……” (Clarkson 2010 pp9).
Accordingly, the need to empirically investigate the application of PRINCE2 and its impact in improving project delivery in Ericsson Network Roll out projects is affirmed.
The PRINCE2 processes and how they contribute to project delivery will be addressed in the next section.
Considering the propensity of the application of PRINCE2 processes in the management of network roll out project in Ericsson, there is need to explore these processes and see how they contribute to the expected successful project delivery.
As expected, the PRINCE2 processes have enjoyed much discourse by different authours just like the PRINCE methodology but an understanding of what constitutes a process is a step in the right direction.
To this end, a process has been defined as:
“…a structured set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective…” (OGC 2009).
In PRINCE2, these set of activities consists of one or more key inputs which are run either in series or in parallel and turned into outputs. Throughout this process, the primarily the focus remains on the specific objectives to be achieved (Haughey 2010) and the actions required to achieve the desired result (OGC 2009).
The PRINCE2 processes have been categorised by some authors in the past into either eight processes (Bellis 2003; England 2006; Fox 2007 and Cheah 2008) or seven processes in more recent literary work (OGC 2009; Portman 2009 and Graham2010). The reason for this variation is not farfetched. The office of government commerce revised the method in 2009 with the aim of making it easier, simpler and more customisable to organisation adopting it (Haughey 2010). The resultant effect of this revision is that seen in recent publications having seven processes instead of eight.
Both processes have been compared in table H in a bid to highlight the difference.
Starting up a Project
Starting up a Project
Initiating a project
Initiating a project
Directing a Project
Directing a Project
Controlling a stage
Controlling a stage
Managing Product delivery
Managing Product delivery
Managing stage boundaries
Managing stage boundaries
Closing a project
Closing a project
It can be seen clearly from the table that the “Planning” process was not included in the seven-process model. The reason for this could be attributed to the fact that planning is not actually a process on its own as it takes place throughout the life of a project and by extension is embedded in the other activities (Pincemaille 2008 and IT Governance Institute 2007).
While it may be acknowledged that this does not necessarily portend a major difference between the two process models, this report will adopt the seven-process PRINCE2 model.
The PRINCE2 Process Model
The PRINCE2 process model (Figure X) shows each and every activity a project will go through from concept to the handover to the close-out phase. In the light of this research, each of these activities is now explored with the aim of ascertaining their contribution to overall project performance or delivery.
Starting up a project
According to OGC 2009 pp 121, one question that comes to mind before the starting up of a project process is:
“….do we have a viable and worthwhile project?…”
The answer to this question will perhaps create a situation where all that is necessary for kick starting the project are in place and ensuring project success (Bellis 2003). As a pre-project phase, it determines if the project is a sensible investment before time and money is committed to it.
Starting up a project process therefore ensures that the information required for the project is available, the project management team responsible for executing the project is appointed, the overall approach to be taken during the project execution is decided and the next stage of the project is decided and approved by the project board (Bocij, Greasley and Hickie 2008; Bellis 2003 and Cheah 2008). Having settled this, the project can now be initiated.
Initiating the Project
Since the rationale and business benefits for the project has been settled, it would be expected that the project will commence immediately. This is not the case with PRINCE2. During the initiating the project process, particular emphasis is placed in determining if really there is enough justification to proceed with the application (Bellis 2003) and establishing a strong foundation for the project prior to commencement of the project (OGC 2009).
Portman (2009) argued that during this process, all project stakeholders are made aware of the projects deliverables, the schedule and the expected quality. In addition and in concomitance with the view of Bellis (2003), the human and financial resources for the first stage of the project are also agreed upon. Perhaps, Graham (2007) gave a clearer explanation by juxtaposing the process with PMI’s Initiation Phase, where the project plans are defined and how the plans will be executed are also described.
Directing a project
Unlike the other PRINCE2 processes that are standalone, this process takes place throughout the entire project (Pincemaille 2008, Bellis 2003) with the focus geared towards the successful delivery of the project. Furthermore, it is the only process where the project manager is not involved as it is the exclusive reserve of the senior management team or project board responsible for key decision making (Bentley 2006 and Portman 2009). To this end, the project board gives direction and delegate authority to the project manager for the smooth running of the project from start up to closeout.
From the literature (Bentley 2006; Hedeman, Heemst and Fredriksz 2006; OGC 2009), some steps taken by the project board include making sure the project remains a viable solution to the business needs as well as monitoring the progress to ensure the project does not derail by giving the necessary advice. The project board will also ensure that the project plans are prepared and approved as and when due is formally closed and handed over to the client.
Controlling a stage
This is one of the processes in PRINCE2 where the daily activities of the project manager are put in perspective and perhaps one of the reasons why project delivery in projects is guaranteed. The reasons for this are not far-fetched. First, PRINCE2 requires that projects are broken down into stages (Cheah 2008) and the project manager monitoring and controlling the activities in the project to make sure each stage stays on course (Bentley 2006). Secondly, the project manager reacts to any unexpected activity, reviews the situation, checks the progress and reports to the project board at set intervals (Graham 2010). The whole essence of this process is summed up in “making sure the stage stays on course”.
Managing Product delivery
Every project is executed to meet a particular need. By doing this, project deliverables, which are the output of the projects, are produced. Graham (2010) revealed that it is at this stage that the project deliverables are produced as well as the subsequent testing of the product. Managing product delivery process gives the project manager somewhat of a control so that the project team can be on the same page regarding the project requirement by constant monitoring of the progress of work .To this end, this process ensures that the team work is not only planned and executed but also put mechanism in place to ensure that the deliverables meet the agreed quality criteria (Bentley 2006, Bellis 2003).
Managing Stage Boundaries
As mentioned before, PRINCE2 requires that project to be broken down stages (Cheah 2008). These stages serve as a means of control for the project because it offers the project board with the opportunity to either continue or discontinue the project depending on the performance of the project up to this stage (Graham 2010; Bellis 2003). Fox (2007) explained that an “End stage or exception assessment” is prepared by the project manager and submitted to the project board in order for crucial decisions to be reached.
Closing a Project
When the project has come to its end or premature end, it is required of the project manager to formally close the project and be released from all project commitments (Bellis 2003; Portman 2009). To this end, three activities are performed, formal closure, handover and review of the project is done (Fox 2007).
It is assumed that when these seven processes are followed, the delivery of the project will be guaranteed. If that assumption is true, the need to assess and evaluate the contribution of PRINCE2 to the overall project management capability in organisations implementing it will arise by the use of maturity models. Maturity models provide these organisations with the
“….systematic framework for carrying out benchmarking and performance improvement…including a series of description ordered into levels of capability from
“not able to do it” through to “continuously improving”…..” (OGC 2009).
The PRINCE2 maturity model (P2MM) is a useful conceptual framework used by organisations to assess the adoption of PRINCE2 methodology and subsequently put in place plans for improvement (Williams 2010). In the manual PRINCE2 maturity model, Williams (2010) categorised P2MM into five levels signifying an organisation’s maturity from the “not able to do it” level to “continuously improving” or optimised project management processes.
Table G below shows these five levels and their attributes.
Level 1 –
Awareness of process
Does the organization recognize projects and run them differently from its ongoing business? (Projects may be run informally with no standard process or tracking system.)
Level 2 –
Has the organization adopted PRINCE2 but allowed the method to be applied inconsistently across projects within the organization?
Level 3 –
Has the organization adopted PRINCE2 and embedded it to align to other organizational processes, and can PRINCE2 be tailored to suit individual projects?
Level 4 –
Does the organization obtain and retain specific measurements on its PRINCE2 project management performance and run a quality management organization to better predict future performance?
Level 5 –
Does the organization undertake continuous process improvement with proactive problem and technology management for PRINCE2 projects in order to improve its ability to depict performance over time and optimize processes?
Source: PRINCE2 MATURITY Model (Williams 2010).
PRINCE2 AND PROJECT DELIVERY
Associating the implementation of PRINCE2 processes and the successful project delivery in Ericsson network roll out project and its absence to project-failure suggests a positive relationship between PRINCE2 and project delivery. Notwithstanding, this relationship remains theoretical and inferred; it is the aim of the proposed research to investigate the correlation empirically.
PRINCE 2 focus on project delivery rather than just carrying out the activities. Its focus on the business case and the periodic execution of plans is also worthy of mention (Haughey 2009)
PRINCE2 provides a scalable framework that can be tailored to meet the needs of any organisation provising a controlled environment through which to deliver projects with the resulting benefits.
The key to success in applying prince 2 is in tailoring it to the individual projects needs (Bentley)
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