Successful ICT projects and core team alignment in internally focused organisations

  • David Colin Bryant

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    ICT projects have a low success rate when measured in terms of time, cost and scope or when measured in terms of business success. There is agreement that the reasons for failure are generally non-technical as they usually relate to people and process. This research focuses on the people, specifically the project team. Research on teams is one of the top five topics for scholars in both Project Management and Organisational Behaviour. Chiocchio and Hobbs (2014) argue that there is a knowledge gap, as the two disciplines are not building on each other’s knowledge, specifically 8.7% of citations in the Project Management Journal and the International Journal of Project Management referenced the top ten most influential journals in the discipline of Organisational Behaviour. This project management research addresses this gap by using three organisational behaviour theories and applying a critical realist paradigm to contribute to the project management body of knowledge. When choosing ICT project team members, the continuing ICT skills shortage has encouraged a focus on eligibility criteria (experience, qualifications, availability) at the expense of suitability criteria such as complementary fit (fit between team members) and supplementary fit (level of congruence between team member values and the organisational culture). This research argues that more attention is required to suitability criteria, particularly for the Key persons in ICT projects as they approach project completion and benefits realisation. The research examines successful ICT projects, where success is interpreted in terms of stakeholder satisfaction. The subjects were finalists in a Project Management Achievement Award competition where stakeholder satisfaction was necessary for this public scrutiny. The analysis occurred after project completion and during the benefits realisation phase. A critical realist case study approach is used to test a deducted theoretical construct known as core team alignment. Following theory testing, propositions are abducted to explain a causal link from core team alignment through to project success. The contingent conditions included projects situated in strong internally focused organisational cultures that involve 20-30 staff over 2-3 years in business related endeavours. The research found that successful ICT projects exhibit core team alignment as the project completes and benefits realisation begins. Core project team alignment occurs when the Key formal roles of Project Manager(s) and business representative(s) include three distinct primary or secondary behavioural team roles of ‘Coordinator’, ‘Monitor Evaluator’ and ‘Completer Finisher’. These behavioural roles are a causal mechanism that activates with the powers within the team structure to enable a number of subsequent events and emergent causal mechanisms. The emergent conflict management causal mechanism and the team structure is examined with the associated team effectiveness event. When examining the emergent team effectiveness causal mechanism interacting with the team structure, the research found that this interaction can cause project success if measured in terms of stakeholder satisfaction. The strength of this causal mechanism was found to vary based on contingent conditions. This research has a practical application during in-flight project health checks where recommendations can be made about the suitability of the key persons to maximise team effectiveness. These recommendations may contribute to successful completion of the project and subsequent benefits realisation, but there will be other contingent conditions to consider. These insights will also allow Project Managers to reflect on their own preferred behaviours and address the behavioural gaps with the appointment of other key team members. In addition, during project team member selection, project team leadership should be identified and developed as business and technical distributed team leadership. This may lead to contrasting management styles which were observed in the research case studies. These differing management styles are recognised as an important attribute of successful team leadership, but more importantly, the involvement of the relevant business group can deliver ownership of the promised business benefits.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJohn Campbell (Supervisor), Iwona Miliszewska (Supervisor), Richard Lucas (Supervisor) & Lubna Alam (Supervisor)

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