Towards a methodology to help predict and reduce impact of projects on long-term costs, corporate strategy and existing IT infrastructure

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This thesis contributes to the body of project management and systems development knowledge, by investigating the success of a project beyond the standard criteria of project budget, objectives and timelines used to judge project performance. This research has been conducted as part of the UTS “Doctor of Project Management” course, which encourages extension of the theoretical study of project management to a commercial environment - by investigating problems related to practical applications of project management. This research attempts to highlight the unforeseen and unplanned impacts created by projects which are often neglected and excluded from project evaluation and strategic alignment. The goal of this study is to find ways to increase the overall benefits to organisations achieved through projects, while minimising unplanned and unforeseen negative impacts caused by projects. To identify long-term impacts caused by projects, a case study is conducted with a real example, focusing on a large, deemed to be successfully completed project within an Australian financial organisation. The case study explores the environment, processes and events throughout project cycle and identifies various factors that influence project flow and create unforeseen impacts outside the planned project actions and outcomes. The case study analysis showed that some crucial decisions made about the project would have been different if some of those unplanned impacts were discovered earlier, for example during the discovery stage of the project. The unplanned impacts resulting from this project were manifested through extended timeline, additional costs and numerous post-project systems interdependencies. Since the original decisions about the way in which the project was implemented were largely based on financial factors, these impacts would have been highly relevant to project planning and could have changed some important decisions crucial to the conduct of the project by the organisation. The case study is representative of how projects are managed in the case study organisation. The findings from the case study are further extended trough a mini-survey of 123 professionals, who confirmed that unplanned impacts created by projects are worth considering and managing. The survey respondents indicated that projects in their organisations were mainly concentrated on short-term, often isolated business needs and had little alignment with the overall strategy and coordination with other projects and initiatives. While organisations are aware of the problem and keen to improve management of unforeseen impacts and associated post-project costs, their efforts so far are largely informal. Both the case study and survey indicated the need for a formal way of managing the post-project impacts and alignment between projects and strategy within organisations. Based on the literature review, case study and survey results, the research arrived at a set of findings and suggestions. The suggestions are articulated through an organisational strategy alignment framework, covering four management areas: strategy and senior management, business management, systems development and project management. The main focus of the recommended actions is around effective management of vendor relationship, strategic alignment and unforeseen project impacts. The recommended actions are grouped around the management areas as follows: • Strategy and Senior Management Suggestions • Vendor management strategy directions • Strategy alignment directions • Roles and responsibilities • Business Management Suggestions • Business impact analysis approach • Project success evaluation • Effective communication • Systems Development Suggestions • Technical impact analysis approach • Solutions evaluation • Business and vendor communication • Project Management Suggestions • Project planning and impact analysis • Solution evaluation • Strategy alignment • Project success evaluation • Utilisation of past experiences • Effective communication The findings and resulting suggestions of this research contribute to: • Project management theory • Project management and systems development practice • Project management, strategic and IT management practice The main focus of this research is the identification of factors that cause unforeseen impact caused by projects on the IT environment and organisations. While the study provides a number of suggestions to improve the effective management of these factors, the detailed analysis of the recommended actions is not within the scope of this study and is suggested as an area for further research.
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