شناسایی، چارچوب و مدیریت عدم قطعیت ها در پرتفولیو پروژه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|22080||2014||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||12180 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Project Management, Available online 16 February 2014
Uncertainties in the organization, external environment and from single projects may hamper project portfolio performance unless managed properly. This paper introduces a framework on uncertainties and their management in project portfolios and pursues increased understanding on how managers can take uncertainty into account better. We explore uncertainties, how managers frame them as opportunities or threats, and the actual practice of managing them across ten R&D project portfolios. The framework on project portfolio uncertainties and their management is further refined based on the empirical results. As key contributions, we show evidence on the balanced existence of three types of uncertainties, the threat bias in their framing, and the dominance of rational, opportunity driven mechanisms of control in uncertainty management. We discuss the context-dependent practice of project portfolio management and the need to complement rational mechanisms with structural and cultural, for project portfolio management to become a dynamic capability.
Companies engage in research and development (R&D) as an investment to their future product and service offering. Investments in R&D are risky and uncertain by nature: the evolution of markets and technologies cannot be foreseen, due to the variety of influencing factors. Yet, companies make efforts to optimize their R&D project portfolios with future business in mind. Project portfolios are being aligned with strategies and balanced in terms of risk particularly during project portfolio selection to positively affect future profits. The selected project portfolios evolve over time due to a number of external and internal reasons, which means that uncertainty exists and has an impact also during project portfolio deployment. Uncertainty in R&D project portfolios is becoming an increasing concern for managers. Despite holistic project portfolio management frameworks that link projects better with strategy (Archer and Ghasemzadeh, 1999a, Benko and McFarlan, 2003, Cooper et al., 2001, Dye and Pennypacker, 1999 and PMI, 2008), companies face a variety of changes and unforeseen events, both within the firm, its projects and in its external relations (e.g. Dvir and Lechler, 2004 and Steffens et al., 2007). For example, markets and customers may change, organizations may be restructured, and project budgets may change in an unplanned manner (e.g. Petit and Hobbs, 2010), which all may be reflected on project portfolio results. Internally, companies still continue to carry out “pet projects” and “under the table projects”, i.e., projects outside of the strategic portfolio regime (Blichfeldt and Eskerod, 2008 and Loch, 2000) and they often suffer from sub-optimization at the single project level, causing resource conflicts and competition at the project portfolio level (e.g. Engwall and Jerbrant, 2003). Managers need to pay attention to uncertainties, in order to keep the R&D project portfolios on track towards the expected business profits. Project portfolio uncertainties have been covered in previous research in three main areas. First, many studies have revealed that organizational context, particularly its complexity and project interdependencies cause uncertainties and require different management practices, in order to make the portfolio successful (e.g. Blichfeldt and Eskerod, 2008, Engwall and Jerbrant, 2003 and Petit and Hobbs, 2010). Second, a few studies have directed attention to the environmental uncertainties such as market and technology turbulence or customer requirements that should be taken into account in project portfolio management (e.g. Olsson, 2008, Petit, 2012 and Voss and Kock, 2013). Third, also changes at the single project level have been considered as relevant in generating uncertainty at the portfolio level (Nobeoka and Cusumano, 1995, Nobeoka and Cusumano, 1997 and Petit and Hobbs, 2010). Based on these and other recent research, it is quite apparent that uncertainty has implications on project portfolio management and the effects of uncertainty may be outside managers' sphere of influence. The starting point for this study is the understanding that external uncertainties, intra-organizational complexities and micro-level changes at the project level all have their potential influence on project portfolios and portfolio management. This is in line with the seminal work by Galbraith (1973), who argued that the greater the uncertainty, the greater amount of information must be processed among the decision-makers. Research and everyday practice in multi-project organizations show that various kinds of changes and uncertainties do take place and they will have an impact, thereby resulting in a wide range of information needs for the managers. The uncertainties are an increasing concern for portfolio managers, but they as well as their consequences are poorly understood. Although some studies already indicate that the rationally oriented project portfolio systems may need to be complemented with political and structural solutions to account for the information needs of managers under uncertain and complex situations (Geraldi, 2008, Kester et al., 2009, Kester et al., 2011 and Martinsuo, 2013), few empirical studies have considered uncertainties, related information processing requirements, and how different portfolio management frameworks are used in uncertainty management (Gutiérrez and Magnusson, 2014, Petit, 2012 and Petit and Hobbs, 2010). In this paper, we explore the managers' experiences of different types of uncertainties in project portfolios, how they interpret and, thereby, process the information regarding uncertainties and eventually seek to make decisions in order to control those uncertainties. In particular, we are interested in how managers frame the uncertainties as opportunities vs. threats (see e.g. Dutton and Jackson, 1987) and whether such labeling is reflected in consequent actions. The objective in this paper is to increase understanding on uncertainties and their consequences during project portfolio deployment and thereby to suggest ways in which uncertainty can be taken into account better in project portfolio management. Particularly, we seek the alternative interpretive and control strategies that managers use, when facing different types of uncertainties. We focus on three main questions: Research question 1: What kinds of external, organizational and project-based uncertainties do managers perceive as part of project portfolio management? Research question 2: How do managers frame the uncertainties (i.e. perceive them as opportunity vs. threat)? Research question 3: How, through what kinds of strategies, do managers respond to the uncertainties, when managing their implications to project portfolio performance? We respond to the call for more detailed examinations of managing changes and uncertainties at the level of the project portfolio (e.g. Martinsuo, 2013 and Petit and Hobbs, 2010). The paper's unique contribution lies in unveiling the whole chain from the sources of portfolio uncertainty to the managerial framing of those uncertainties and to the consequences and taken control actions because of them. As a result, we will suggest practical ways to respond to the dynamic aspects of project portfolio management.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
6.1. Contribution The key contribution of this paper is new knowledge on the practice of project portfolio management in uncertain, dynamic conditions. The evidence from interviews in ten R&D portfolios portrays project portfolio management as an arena for environmental, organizational and project-based uncertainties, calling for managers' information search and attention. As a result, we have unveiled the whole chain from the sources of portfolio uncertainty to the managerial labeling of those uncertainties and to the consequences and taken control actions because of them. The developed conceptual framework of uncertainties and their management offers a logical structure that can be used also in further research, to map managers' views of project portfolio related uncertainty and its management. The framing of the uncertainties as opportunities and threats plays a significant role both in identifying different sources of uncertainties and in taking actions in response to them. Even if companies cannot know or avoid all their uncertainties, managers may employ versatile controls as means to learn from, limit and affect the uncertainties. We explored the rational, structural and power-based/cultural controls that managers use to manage uncertainties and, thereby, contributed by offering empirical evidence to previous conceptual frameworks, particularly at the level of project portfolios. We identified both a threat-bias in uncertainty identification and a low degree of control over the uncertainties, which implies that the practice of project portfolio management may need further improvements particularly after the portfolio selection and resource allocation phase. Especially the reconfigurational and cultural–political (value-based) dimensions of project portfolio management will deserve further attention, to activate uncertainty management at the level of the portfolio. In terms of managerial implications, this study highlights a variety of strategic and operative issues that are not accounted for, if project portfolio management is treated merely as a device for project prioritization and selection and resource allocation. During project portfolio deployment, various organizational, environmental and project-based uncertainties emerge and require managers' attention. Managers need to be aware of the power of their interpretations, when they make sense of such uncertainties. Our study suggests that the labeling of uncertainty issues into threats, neutral and opportunities may guide the choice of control mechanisms and, thereby, have a significant role in uncertainty management. By paying attention to the uncertainties and developing not only rational but also structural and cultural–political mechanisms for their management, managers can become more skilled and influential in their project portfolio management practice. Due to managers' different interpretations of the uncertainties, some degree of negotiation is needed, when managers consider their responses to uncertainty issues. Together, managers could have possibilities to try and find better ways to control uncertainties, particularly those that are considered as threats. The actual performance of project portfolios is a consequence of priorities and choices in the beginning, and various reactive, anticipatory and improvisation capabilities as responses to events inside and outside the portfolio. 6.2. Limitations and ideas for further research We used a qualitative research strategy and provided information about the co-occurrence of the perceived project portfolio uncertainties and the means used for managing them. Interview data from ten companies and multiple informants in many of them were used to increase the validity of the results. A coherent interview outline, full interview transcripts, a transparent and systematic coding approach, and co-author confirmatory checks of analysis results were used, to improve the credibility of the findings. As limitations, we acknowledge the bias towards machine manufacturing firms' R&D, experienced R&D managers, and medium to large portfolios. Also, the single country context can be considered a limitation, although the companies are international and deliver R&D results to foreign manufacturing facilities besides their home country. Many project portfolio mechanisms attempt to formalize project selection and certainties in the most critical decision making events, whereas changes between the decision making events have been poorly taken into account so far. Risk management tools and systems used at the single project level may also contribute to portfolio-level issues, but such interplay is not, yet, fully understood. Our study raises these as well as other new issues for further studies. For example, forthcoming studies could track the frequency of different types of uncertainties across different types of portfolios (or industries), to prepare such portfolio management methodologies that would fit the degree of uncertainty. Quantitative studies are suggested, to enable the testing of the preliminary findings in this study. Similarly, the perspectives of managers in different positions (portfolio managers, project managers, business managers) should be explored, to help relevant competences in their different duties. Also, a more detailed exploration of different control mechanisms for uncertainty management is needed, to shed light on the need to activate the use of cultural and structural controls in tackling portfolio-related threats. As this study highlighted the information processing perspective to project portfolio uncertainty management, further research is encouraged on other aspects and phases in managers' interpretive processes, than just the individual-level framing of uncertainties. In order for portfolio managers to understand the logics through which certain uncertainties and their consequences unfold, forthcoming research should possibly track the more detailed cause and effect chains of selected a few uncertainties in product development portfolios. This attained knowledge could ideally be connected to the framing of the uncertainties. As the interdependences between and the scope and hierarchical structure of uncertainties were not examined in this study, further research is needed to better understand the interrelations and dynamics within portfolio uncertainties and their management. The social processes of sensemaking in identifying and managing portfolio-related uncertainties could also deserve research attention. Finally, since current frameworks account for the local organizational context only, increased knowledge about external and project-based uncertainties in project portfolios should be used to develop more context-aware frameworks for estimating and promoting success in project portfolio management.