مدیریت پروژه از رویدادهای غیر منتظره
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|3185||2008||7 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Project Management, Volume 26, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 80–86
Unexpected events and environmental impact not planned for are common during project implementation. This article explores how unexpected events are dealt with in projects using qualitative case study data from four different cases. Results show four different approaches to deal with unexpected events: innovative action, applying detachment strategies, setting up intensive meeting schedules and negotiating project conditions are common approaches to deal with the unexpected events. The discussion shed new light on one common situations during project execution – i.e. dealing with unexpected events – that is not normally included in the best practice models of project management.
Project management practices are often, in the text book version and from the project manager’s viewpoint, conceived of as “executing the plan” as efficient as possible while avoiding difficulties and deviations. As a consequence, dealing with the project environment is also a part of the execution assignment and included in the plan. First, environment is taken care of at scheduled points in time, for example, at initiation, stage-gate review occasions and at termination. Such events are part of the project model used and points in time where the project is open for external impact. Second, risk management procedures are in place to mitigate consequences of, among other things, outside disturbances that may have a negative impact on the project. Environmental issues are thus turned into planned events or are being subject for risk assessment. The unpredictability and randomness of project environments are kept aside and project management are mostly concerned with internal issues. Consequently, project management models cannot be accused of being “black box” models. On the contrary, project management models fully illuminate the project itself while leaving the environment somewhat hidden in darkness . However, investigating the relations between project execution and the project environment is being an increasingly more interesting issue for at least three reasons. First, many projects are organized in networks having several partners  and  thus being dependent on several host organizations and somewhat different goals. Second, organizations are more frequently referred to as being project-based or project dependent , ,  and  with projects as a vital part of the organizational architecture. These two observations (project networks and organizations being project based) also indicate that projects are frequently and regularly organized by a large number of organizations. Environment is also becoming a more emphasized topic when moving from major one-off projects to frequent and regular project operations. It is also recognized in traditional PM literature that environmental relations need management attention but as the relation become more complex it is also becoming less possible to foresee and less possible to plan. This is also made a topic of research to a greater extent today than what used to be the case , , , ,  and  as well as suggested, in the literature reviews, as a desired topic to investigate more thoroughly . This paper aims at contributing to the stream of the literature inquiring into the links between a project and its environment. More precisely, we aim at an outline of different categories of unexpected events appearing in projects as a consequence of environmental impact and how these are dealt with. 1.1. Between plans and unexpected events Traditional and normative project management models, such as the various bodies of knowledge presently on the market, are highly rational and sequential in the approach to project management issues, built on the idea of major independent projects being the role model, heavily dependent on structure, administrative systems and the execution of plans. Several text books also discusses project management along similar lines (there are many, see e.g.  and ). It is a theory for the “best of worlds” with order and control as key words . Such models are first of all prescriptions guiding ambitions and rational aspirations in the field rather than they are valid descriptions on project management in practice. The issue on the relation between espoused theories (what is supposed to be done) of projects and the actual project practice, or theory-in-use  has been the topic of some recent research efforts ,  and . Research on the practice of projects follows similar lines as a more major shift in social science research, popularly referred to as the practice turn. The idea is to “bring work back”, using the words of Barley and Kunda , in order to make research more relevant and based on what is really going on in organizations. Several research agendas have been formulated following basically similar arguments, such as the communities of practice approach , learning and knowledge , strategy as practice  and  and the so called ANT approach. Approaching projects from a practice perspective indicates the necessity to highlight actual activities, processes and actions of those that execute projects. Thus, models of project management become secondary and are not made a starting point for research. However, project management bodies of knowledge may well be something used by practitioners to legitimate their actions or as guides for action – but it is not a starting point for building the ontology of the research. Actually, to detach research on projects from ontological constraints provided by best practice project management models is rewarding as it opens up for a more comprehensive and elaborate understanding of the organizational and behavioural aspects of projects. This is true also for organizational studies in general, see for example . The issue on project – environment relations is one of the aspects of project management practices that have been shielded behind rational models and planning approaches, thus not giving the complexity of project – environment practices the attention it deserves. As indicated in the introduction, project environments are depicted in terms of stakeholder relations, risk assessment, program and portfolio contingencies, and stage-gate decision points but less interest is given the everyday struggle to keep projects on track and on schedule, and not much is conveyed in terms of how the unexpected  and  is dealt with. Engwall  provides an important contribution, highlighting how parallel activities in the organizational context, experiences and pre-project processes, institutional forces and future aspirations come together in creating the project context. He is able to extend the view of projects by adding time (before and after) and space (organizational context) to the understanding of a focal project. The analysis shows that time frames as well as contextual frames are important for the understanding of project execution and success or failure. When projects are put into context, as in Engwall’s article, it is obvious that it is not possible to assess all possible environmental impacts that may occur over the project life cycle. Still plans have to be made. Plans codify those expectations that are desirable, necessary and likely if actions are carried out in a correct way without any unexpected disturbances. Project plans are repositories of expectations on which managers build their daily activities and hence there is a logical chain where our expectations about the future guide our actions today. Expectations also help direct our attention and guide us in determining what to look for to confirm that our expectations were correct or incorrect. A complication is that people normally tend to seek positive confirmation and may neglect disconfirming information . Unexpected events may thus not be detected early on. March  concludes that ambiguity is not only connected to the future. Also the past may be ambiguous with several possible interpretations and possible consequences. Learning is as complicated as planning. Planning/expecting, executing/acting, learning and experiencing are tightly connected in the mindset of project members and managers. A project is to some extent truly ambiguous and filled with unexpected events created as things do not unfold as planned or because conditions change over time. Projects are still being successfully carried out and we praise the amazing project managers that seem to be able to cope with changes all the time. They seem to exercise the art of “managing the unexpected” parallel to executing the plan. Based on the research agendas presented by Engwall and Weick and Sutcliffe, we aim at an investigation of how unexpected events are managed and we are looking more carefully on such events where the link between the project and the environment is established and attended to by managers. 1.2. Research approach and case overview The research is built on case studies. Cases were chosen to depict different organizational and industrial contexts but with the common focus on projects as a main organizational form for developing and delivering products and services. Cases are thus similar in terms of the project focus, but different in terms of industry and products, to enable cross case comparisons and the discovery of project common features across organizations (see for example ). The case selection criteria were primarily project types, and secondly organizational types. It is not feasible to present cases at length in a journal manuscript. We are thus following the format suggested by Eisenhardt and Graebner . Consequently, our cases are briefly presented below and also referred to in the results section. Empirical evidence and conceptual discussions are intertwined to build emergent categories on the research topic. Data was collected through interviews and documents. The organizations were visited several times to follow up on project progress and 10–20 interviews were conducted in each organization. Main issues discussed during interviews were project progress and experiences at each point in time. Issues on environmental impact was thus not the only issue on which data was collected but as environmental aspects came up in the discussion, further questions were asked and the issue explored more in depth. Cases included are the following: Delivery of harbour equipment – The company develops, manufacture, deliver and install harbour systems for loading and unloading of ships. Their specific competence is related to particular cargo types where their products are especially well suited. The project under study was one of the largest won by the company and involved the combined efforts of the company and a number of sub-contractors for on-site installations, transportation and sub-system manufacturing. Parallel activities at the factory and the customer’s site made coordination and communication between two teams a crucial issue. While the factory based team concentrated on engineering work, logistics, manufacturing and procurement, the site team was primarily focused on advanced construction and testing. The factory team had its peak in terms of activities performed prior to the peak at the site. Critical project phases included the final design of the system and procurement, shipping of goods, final testing and hand-over. Several changes occurred during the project. The customer changed system specifications at several occasions, causing loops in the design process. Design innovations in other parallel projects were included in the focal project as well. Delays during construction had an impact on the time frame available for testing. The system was successfully delivered on time. Delivery of power plants – The company develops, manufacture, deliver and install major power plants for, normally, public customers. Their specific competence is related to the power transmission technology. The project studies was a major investment for the customer even though technology used and system design were well known. Critical project phases are similar to the previous case presented; including bidding, system design, shipping, construction and hand-over. The industry is competitive with heavy penalties for project delays. Logistics and profitable procurement is thus a crucial factor for project success. Delays in deliveries from sub-contractors and unexpected problems at site created several unexpected path of events that needed to be attended to by managers. However, the completed plant was delivered successfully on time. Development of medical equipment for blood tests and analysis – The company develops and sells instruments to analyze blood samples at hospitals or independent laboratories. The particular project under study was the development of a new product with considerable higher capacity than those previously offered by the company. The new product targeted the needs of particular markets. Technology utilized and working procedures were initially the same as for previous product development projects but it turned out that progress was slow and the project failed to meet the estimated delivery dates due to unexpected problems during the development process. These problems had to do with technological components and system sub-contractors failing to meet the requirements. A major review of the project resulted in a re-start with a new product specification and a re-organized project where technological expertise was complemented with system engineering competence. The product reached the market delayed and with a lower capacity than originally planned for. Organizational change in a public health care organization – The organization runs several hospitals and family care units and implemented major changes in the organizational structure as well as in routines and procedures as a consequence of poor financial results and a need for down sizing. It included a completely new budget and accounting system, new effectiveness and efficiency measurements and changes in the organizational structure of units, annual planning cycle and intra-organizational relations. The overall governance system with political representatives was changed parallel to the focal project. The project team was headed by the CEO and the top management team who had several groups working on specific issues but none was full time employed within the project. Several unexpected events occurred during the implementation phase that went on for almost three years. The scope of the project was re-defined a couple of times due to public debate, political interference and upcoming elections. Delayed deliveries of IT support meant that the implementation had to be re-scheduled. Differences among the hospitals impacted the implementation speed and it was necessary to have different implementation schedules for different units of the organizations. The project reached the financial goals and the new financial system was in operation at the end of the project period while other issues were abandoned after a new organizational change had been agreed upon.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Organizations are more and more “projectified” and find themselves dependent on a large number of small and mid-sized projects, and a few larger ones. A new corporate landscape and a renewed set of management challenges arise in such organizational settings requiring new approaches to understand operations as well as management ( and , see also ). The focus on projects, project environments, and projects as corporate components are all part of this renewed management agenda. The contribution of this paper – an outline of patterns of environment – project links – is one approach and one contribution to the overall development of more refined understanding of contemporary organizations. The paper has showed how the environment keys in with project work during execution, through re-openings, revisions, and fine-tuning. Taken together the analysis deepens the understanding of project management challenges and provides some conceptual understanding to the everlasting issue on how to relate the separate task of the project to the developments of the organizational context and the time frame of which the projects are one part.