Critically analysis various factors

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This research paper done by us critically analysis various factors contributing to the 'Failure and Abandonment of Strategic Scanning Projects'. In view of this, we critically analysis the authors' argument and contributions made by the practitioners and we also make reference to journals that relate to the above article in order to help us evaluate and analysis the contributions made by the authors. We found that the authors' argument was highly significance to understanding the article of why strategic scanning projects failed or were abandoned and also we discovered that the contributions made by the authors' and practitioners in the article were very effective in establishing their point of view and appropriate theories were used to justify their arguments.

The main focus of their arguments was based on human factors played more of a significant role in the failure and abandonment of strategic scanning project failure than technical and economic factors. They also focused on the vital importance of strategic management in the success of strategic scanning projects, their arguments were well structured and presented; but we discover that the authors and practitioners had limitations in the scope of their research in that they only used 'Action research methodology ' to test the failure factors of '39 different IS projects'.

They therefore concluded that those failures were paramount to strategic scanning project failure. In our reference to journals we discovered a different research methodology used by a practitioner which we shall discuss fully in 'Research Methodology'.


A focus and discipline strategic decision manager must have the ability to plan, executive, analyze and maintain his decision, his effective decision can transform the performance of an organisation in terms of making fortunes for the shareholders' and also creating an enabling job security for the stakeholders'. Strategic decision manager must understand the 'Internal and External factors' surrounding the organisation. Proper knowledge and assessment of these factors will help to facilitate a project in order to make relevant strategy to deal with any problems that may have effect on success or failure of implemented project.

Choo C. (2001) states that company must focus on external change and take into consideration when identifying the strategic targets it would like to pursue in knowing where the organisation would be in next year or more; and also company must understand the implementation of an 'environmental scanning or strategic scanning' system. Strategic scanning therefore refer to the aspect of planning which focuses on "examining, identifying and interpreting the structure of the organisation" in order to assist managers in making effective decisions and designing strategy to achieving the organisational goals and objectives. Hambrick D. (1982) describes the significance of strategic scanning to the business organisation that it served as a means of informing the company about any changes in market trends and developments in order to have an edge over its competitors. This paper review the factors contributing to the failure and abandonment of strategic scanning projects and the lessons learned.

In our report we will examine the content of the authors' findings and arguments in order to determine the relevance of the paper. By evaluating the theoretical argument made by the authors and practitioners to judge if they thoroughly explained the theory in their findings and what implications it has on knowledge of strategic scanning project failure and abandonment on business organisation. We will also analyse the significance and appropriateness of the report, taking a closer look at the findings and its relevant in assisting us to understand the different factors contributing to strategic scanning project failure and abandonment. In the appropriateness of the report, we identify the authors' limitations and make suggestions as to what areas the authors' could have improved the research.

In our conclusion, we will show a general critique of the authors' research stating whether or not we support their views and lastly we will identify the steps to be taken by the strategic manager before embarking on implementation of IS project in the business organisation.


We thoroughly studied this article and make reference to related journals in order to understand the authors' arguments on the factors that determined the failure and abandonment of strategic scanning projects. The article highlighted the significance of S. Scan project in a business firm as a means of identifying and analysing the present and future constraints, threats and opportunities in organisation's external environment which are technological scanning, competitor intelligence and competitive intelligence. (El Sawy,1985; Choo C. 2001; Hubert & Daft, 1987).

The practitioners explained in the article the difficulties encountered by the company in implementing S. scan project in its operation whereby the employees and project management were confused on how to start the IS project and what task to perform next. In view of this, the authors' suggested that the failure of IS project system was based upon different factors like employees' qualifications and experience, poor project impetus, uninvolved management, project mismanagement, strategic misalignment, inaccurate expectations, previous wrong project perception and underestimating the new type of complexity. These factors were used by the writer because he could not get the factors that contribute to the failure and abandonment of S. scan projects and its operation in business organisation. Flowers (1996) were in support of the above factors, the author distinguishes five IS project failure factors such as organisation, human, financial, technical and strategies issues.

Having gone through the content of the article, we focus our attention on the issues raise in the writer's arguments. The authors' research basically focused at various factors contributing to the failure and abandonment of strategic scanning project. The research gives a clearer understanding of main reasons for project failure and abandonment and what can be done to minimize the negative effects it post on business organisation. The authors have outlined in their research that the factors likely to contribute to the failure and abandonment of S. scan projects are not really known (Nicolas L. and Marie L. Caron-Fasan, 2008). However they decided that by assessing the failure factors of 39 different IS projects they would be able to relate the findings to construct their theoretical argument as to why S. scan projects were likely to fail or be abandoned. Professor Lucas an author of managing information services described that "the main cause in failure of IS system is poor planning" that if the company is strong in these aspects the chances of failure is reduced tremendously.

Lam and Chua (2005) identifies three main reasons why IS project failed and abandoned such as the project was poorly managed at the implementation stage, the operational system is not suitable with the organisational strategy, and the projects contents are unsatisfactory. The study also views the intrinsic success of a scan project in any organisation which lies heavily on the efficiency and foresight of the management; they outline the importance of good strategic management as being fundamental to the success of an IS project implementation. The authors' explained further that "the ability of managers to gather and properly analyze information concerning the internal (e.g employees) and the external (e.g technological scanning, competitor intelligence, competitive intelligence etc) environment affecting the company and its objectives is of crucial importance to the organisation and its stakeholders" (Nicolas L. and Marie L. Caron-Fasan, 2008). These aspects clearly informs us that the success of S. scan projects relies heavily on the support of management and their ability to effectively forecast impending risks and implement appropriate strategies to aptly deal with those risks can greatly reduce the chances of IS projects implementation failure. Yeates and Cadle (1996) also support this view that "strategy is the action that an organisation takes based on its assessment of the environment", they went further by stating that "top performing companies pay extra-ordinary attention to managing the development and progress of tomorrow managers".

In the authors' contribution, there was insufficient research done directly on the topic: Strategic scanning project failure and abandonment, they based their theory on evidence from research done on IS project failure and abandonment factors. They highlight the importance of S. scan that a business organisation needs to be able to acquire, distribute and above all analyse information relating to the current state and evolution of its socio-economic environment and the implementation of a strategic scanning system, responds to that need. They also explain the processes involved in S. scan: collection, selection, storing, analysis and distribution of information. They inform us that S. scan is essentially a project management support activity which comes before, during and after implementation stages. The authors also states the importance of S. scan projects that its goals must be in conformity with the organisational goals; as a means of assisting the business to identify and analyze current and future limitations, opportunities and potential threats. Strategic Scanning project will also help the decision manager to observe and identify any changes that may occur in the environment.

The authors used action research method to test the originality of the article on scanning project, the research methodology will be discuss fully in the degree of contribution. In the article Lesca N. Caron F. and Marie L described that according to thirty nine projects which were studied and research methods examined, result showed that failure and abandonment are aggravated by combination of factors describing the management and organisation of the IS project system, to stakeholders' qualifications and experience as well as to strategic alignment and changes in the organisation's internal structure. In the article it also shows the organisation's S. scan system on product life cycle according to PLC, some projects were rejected early because management were not in full support of the IS project implementation and also abandoned due to insufficient budget. Murphy's Law emphasis on project management that "whatever can go wrong will go wrong" adoption this scenario; strategic managers must be prepare for any sudden change in the internal and external environment of the organisation.

The authors' choose to assess the failure and abandonment factors of 39 different IS projects by using the "action research method" to know the factors responsible for S. scan failure and abandonment. The authors' take a look at internal environment as a major problem the organisation are faced with in implementing the IS project; they share their view with managers and provide a mean of change to the success of IS project. This article shows the appropriateness of action research methodology such as providing information about factors that led to failure and abandonment of IS projects. They discovered that many IS projects failed when unexpected problems interrupted the smooth running of the project such as insufficient budget and poor project feasibility studies make the on-going project to increase in costs and objectives therefore this force the strategic manager to wind-up the project because the IS project does not meet the organisation's goals and objectives. This is the major reasons why the authors' emphasize that it is important for strategic management to do an in-depth environmental scan of internal and external factors affecting the company in order to uncover the potential threats. Doherty and King (2001) showed the significance of the research that only 10% of IS system failure are due to the technical issues like problem in smooth working and unexpected problems but 90% failures were social and internal organisation's factors such as poor management, stakeholders experience and qualifications and hostile culture.


The paper has 75% significance of substantial contribution to the topic "Strategic scanning project failure and abandonment factors" due to the sense that the researcher used the factors that contribute to IS project failure to determine the likely factors that can affect S. Scan project failure and abandonment in a business organisation. The authors' contributions showed the importance of S. Scan project in a company that it help strategic management to anticipate current and future course of action and also it involves monitoring the whole of the organisation's socio-economic environment (Choo C, 2001).

Nanus B. (1982) states that S. Scan project failed because the CEOs use external information sources with much higher frequency than internal information sources and that the CEOs did not delegate their strategic information acquisition to subordinate. His contribution was based on CEOs using more of external factors than the internal factors.

In the studied paper the authors stated that economic (exceeding budget, deadlines) and technological factors have not much contribution of abandoned of any IS project; Albright (2004) states that economic and technical factors have a great impact on successful IS implementation. She explained that any economic changes from the macro or micro level can affect any organization and technological changes can impact on overall business and production process. Lingberg (1999) and Glass(1998) found that 46 % of IS project failed due to the over cost and schedule failing.


The authors' used "action research method" which is show the research study of "Quantitative" this help the authors to gather evidence for the basis of their arguments. In their research they used "observation" of sample size of 39 factors of IS project failure; action research method is used by the researcher because it helps to describe, understand and analyze the organisation and its internal and external environment. This method is used because it helps the researcher to facilitate the topic with expert advice and technical knowledge. The authors' strongly depended on observation because it shows the "implicit and tacit hypothesis" of 39 factors of IS project failure. The method used is 90% suitable for the study because "a closed survey" i.e a questionnaire is not appropriate method because it generally difficult to collect accurate primary data.

Nanus B. (1982) used a different research method, he used "Quest"(Quick Environmental Scanning Techniques){22} . This helps at the corporate level to help top mangers quickly focus upon strategies issues and these are based on the assumption that each member of the top management team of an organisation already has a view of the changing environment. He used "Semi-Structured" interview in questioning the CEOs which had the flavour of an event protocol; the CEOs were asked to describe various aspects of their scanning behaviour in relation to two strategic which are threats and opportunities, of their choice which they were currently experiencing. Johnson and Scholes (1993) also used a different research method, they used "Scenarios". This method gives the managers a collective view of future situations against which they can examine their strategic options. They viewed this research methodology as appropriate because it shows the long-term view of strategy plan and the key factors to avert any problems that might arises. A practitioner also used the research methodology "Case Studies" this helps in depicting a holistic portrayal of a client's experiences and results regarding a program. This helps to evaluate the effectiveness of a program's processes, including its strengths and weaknesses, evaluators might develop case studies on the program's success and failures. Paul B. and Dave C (2006) used "Prince" (Projects in Controlled Environments) this provides controls that enable the progress of the project management and strategy decision management activities to monitor against failure of plan.


The research work done by authors' and practitioners has a positive impact on the business organisation in the sense that it shows the 'commercial and economic' impact. The commercial impact is that the organisation will gain benefits through developing distinctive competencies. In order to survive and grow in a competitive environment, organisations must seek competitive advantage over their competitors. S. Scan project implementation plays an important role in helping organisation to gain and sustain a competitive edge over other organisations operating in the same industry by focusing on three basic strategies which are cost leadership, product differentiation and innovation. The economic impact is that it will help to improve operational efficiency and increase the organisation's leverage.


The researchers identified that the S. scan project was abandoned without their knowledge. The Action Research method also contributed to the limitation of the research as it required the participation of the researchers, resulting in their influence on how the failure factors manifested. Mumford (2006) highlighted the controlling of variables by researchers using this methodology as a disadvantage of the methodology due to the danger of results being biased. Also the background of the researchers as highly regarded academics on this subject, one could easily have influenced their observations, therefore making their results somewhat partially subjective. The researchers make used of 'observation method' this limit their viewed on factors that contributes to S. Scan project; they should have use another methods to test their result in order to know if the result would be same.

Another limitation could also be a reason for further research is the geographical location of where the project studied took place. As the culture of a particular country influences the micro-environment within which organisations operate and the behaviour of their staff. It is therefore possible that the failure factors observed would have manifested themselves differently if organisations studied were based in non-francophone countries. Further research could therefore be carried out on organisations located in different culture and the findings compared to that of this research to establish any cross-cultural impact on the failure and abandonment of S.Scan projects in a business organisation. The research also regarded S.scan project as structured and pro-active internally system but Aquilar (1967) suggested that S.scan project can normally be an informal unstructured activity; this therefore has positive impact on the outcome of the research if basically they regard the S. Scan as unstructured. The researchers also identified that insufficient budget from the company had a negative impact on success of S.scan project.


  • Involve the right people in the planning process
  • The strategic decision manager must totally be in support of the project
  • The project goals and objectives must be in conformity with the organisational goals
  • Regularly review of accountability stating what is doing what and by when
  • Effective communication between the project manager, employees and strategy decision manager.

Example where the company get benefit and positive response from Strategic scanning:

  • The US Corporation compared the economic performance of 28 corporations which using Strategic scanning with 22 non-practicing firms. The duration is measure from 1975 to 1980 for 5 year .The firm share price /earnings ratio was increase and the average annual performance of the scanning firms was also getting better than non-scanning firms. ( Newgren et al., (1984)).
  • Analyzed the operation of 82 small firms and fulfilled that intensive limit spanning activity was fully interconnected to organization's financial performance, where border spanning was considered by the amount of contacts with external constituencies such as customers, competitors, government officials, trade associations, and so on. ( Dollinger (1984)).
  • Analyze the connection of organizational strategy and environmental scanning to performance in the US foodservice industry. The performance measure over 4 year period and data collected from 65 companies (1982 to 1986). The study show that strategy and environmental scanning had play important role to influence on the firm's return on assets and return on sales. High-performing organization in both differentiation and small cost strategies engaged in significantly greater amounts of scanning than low-performing organization in those two strategic groups. (West (1988)).
  • In the scanning by CEO discover that executives of high-performing firms increased the frequency with getting high return on assets and breadth of their scanning as external uncertainty rose.( Daft et al.'s 1988)
  • Analyzed the scanning and performance in US Fortune 500 companies study by Subramanian and his associates and they found the company is using Advanced system to monitor his external events which display the growth is going higher and increasing profitability as compare other firm they don't have that type of system to support his performance and activity. (Subramanian et al., 1993).
  • Subramanian had last study of more than 600 hospitals of the American Hospital Association in which it was mention that hospitals having more advanced scanning functions worked importantly better than hospitals which used less sophisticated and simple ways to manage the environment. The advanced scanners scored top in their potential to execute information and their ability to use the scanning information in the general aspects of planning process. These hospitals worked efficiently in mode of occupancy rates and per bed expenses. (Subramanian et al., 1994)
  • There is comparison in Figure-1 and Figure-2 of different modes of scanning. This model is proposed by Daft and Weick is consisting with observational knowledge about organizational scanning. (Choo, 2001). This model indicates the volume of information seeking or scanning is related to the apparent analyzability of the environment. When getting difficulty to analysis the environment there is tendency to take help to sue people source more deeply in order to help to decrease the higher levels of equivocality. The theory of organizational intrusiveness underlines the bond between the capacity to maneuver actively in the environment and the gathering of useful information. In abstract, the scanning model appears a possible framework for analyzing the major environmental and organizational contingency that persuades strategic scanning as cycles of information looking for and information use.

The two condition which influencing organizational scanning are environmental analyzability and organizational intrusiveness. In current scenario the environment is inconstant, organization face a quandary. If you see one side of the environment showed un-analyzable,

This because of its impenetrable of multiplicity and swift rate of change. On the other side of organizations observe they require being proactive in scanning and shaping their environments.

The model indicate that for organizations incline toward this model to support their associate to inspect more proactively, both the stage of environmental analyzability and the level of organizational intrusiveness need to be raised. The model of strategic scanning showed here suggests reasonable explanations for the various levels and outlines of scanning that are examined in practice.


Conclusively the study told us that the failure and abandonment of projects was not based upon just one thing but many different contributing factors. However what was clear was that 'human factors' were the main causes among other things such as operational or technical and often falling under the umbrella of Poor strategic management. To make projects successful the organization must have sufficient funds moreover employee's experience and qualification should be suitable. Team leaders must be qualified as required by the job and possess good decision making power. It is also favourable for the organizational environment to be friendly, with proper knowledge being distributed to employees so as to help them perform effectively. We are in agreement with the fact that successful strategic scanning analysis can be of immense importance to the success or failure of any project and thus support the line of argument which states that management is one of the most crucial aspects to the organizations success or failure. Managers performing effective environmental scan and analysis at strategy level, is of critical importance to successful implementation of IS project. Strategic scanning sometime focused on technological scanning and competitive intelligence from these factors organizations not in a position to change their current and long term objectives. It actually involve organization's socio-economic environment. As pointed out earlier, failure and rejection of the strategic scanning system are not exactly known but we can assume that by getting to understand these factors better would reduce the Failure in S. Scan project.