Project Success through Effective Decisions: Case Studies on Project Goal Setting, Success Evaluation and Managerial Decision Making
Saravirta, Ali (2001)
Aineistoon ei liity tiedostoja.
Acta Universitatis LappeenrantaensisURN:ISSN:1456-4491
The objective of the thesis is to structure and model the factors that contribute to and can be used in evaluating project success. The purpose of this thesis is to enhance the understanding of three research topics. The goal setting process, success evaluation and decision-making process are studied in the context of a project, business unitand its business environment. To achieve the objective three research questionsare posed. These are 1) how to set measurable project goals, 2) how to evaluateproject success and 3) how to affect project success with managerial decisions.The main theoretical contribution comes from deriving a synthesis of these research topics which have mostly been discussed apart from each other in prior research. The research strategy of the study has features from at least the constructive, nomothetical, and decision-oriented research approaches. This strategy guides the theoretical and empirical part of the study. Relevant concepts and a framework are composed on the basis of the prior research contributions within the problem area. A literature review is used to derive constructs of factors withinthe framework. They are related to project goal setting, success evaluation, and decision making. On the basis of this, the case study method is applied to complement the framework. The empirical data includes one product development program, three construction projects, as well as one organization development, hardware/software, and marketing project in their contexts. In two of the case studiesthe analytic hierarchy process is used to formulate a hierarchical model that returns a numerical evaluation of the degree of project success. It has its origin in the solution idea which in turn has its foundation in the notion of projectsuccess. The achieved results are condensed in the form of a process model thatintegrates project goal setting, success evaluation and decision making. The process of project goal setting is analysed as a part of an open system that includes a project, the business unit and its competitive environment. Four main constructs of factors are suggested. First, the project characteristics and requirements are clarified. The second and the third construct comprise the components of client/market segment attractiveness and sources of competitive advantage. Together they determine the competitive position of a business unit. Fourth, the relevant goals and the situation of a business unit are clarified to stress their contribution to the project goals. Empirical evidence is gained on the exploitation of increased knowledge and on the reaction to changes in the business environment during a project to ensure project success. The relevance of a successful project to a company or a business unit tends to increase the higher the reference level of project goals is set. However, normal performance or sometimes performance below this normal level is intentionally accepted. Success measures make project success quantifiable. There are result-oriented, process-oriented and resource-oriented success measures. The study also links result measurements to enablers that portray the key processes. The success measures can be classified into success domains determining the areas on which success is assessed. Empiricalevidence is gained on six success domains: strategy, project implementation, product, stakeholder relationships, learning situation and company functions. However, some project goals, like safety, can be assessed using success measures that belong to two success domains. For example a safety index is used for assessing occupational safety during a project, which is related to project implementation. Product safety requirements, in turn, are connected to the product characteristics and thus to the product-related success domain. Strategic success measures can be used to weave the project phases together. Empirical evidence on their static nature is gained. In order-oriented projects the project phases are oftencontractually divided into different suppliers or contractors. A project from the supplier's perspective can represent only a part of the ¿whole project¿ viewed from the client's perspective. Therefore static success measures are mostly used within the contractually agreed project scope and duration. Proof is also acquired on the dynamic use of operational success measures. They help to focus on the key issues during each project phase. Furthermore, it is shown that the original success domains and success measures, their weights and target values can change dynamically. New success measures can replace the old ones to correspond better with the emphasis of the particular project phase. This adjustment concentrates on the key decision milestones. As a conclusion, the study suggests a combination of static and dynamic success measures. Their linkage to an incentive system can make the project management proactive, enable fast feedback and enhancethe motivation of the personnel. It is argued that the sequence of effective decisions is closely linked to the dynamic control of project success. According to the used definition, effective decisions aim at adequate decision quality and decision implementation. The findings support that project managers construct and use a chain of key decision milestones to evaluate and affect success during aproject. These milestones can be seen as a part of the business processes. Different managers prioritise the key decision milestones to a varying degree. Divergent managerial perspectives, power, responsibilities and involvement during a project offer some explanation for this. Finally, the study introduces the use ofHard Gate and Soft Gate decision milestones. The managers may use the former milestones to provide decision support on result measurements and ad hoc critical conditions. In the latter milestones they may make intermediate success evaluation also on the basis of other types of success measures, like process and resource measures.
- Väitöskirjat