Software development as a design or a production project: An empirical study of project monitoring and control

Publisher:
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 2007, 20 (1), pp. 70 - 82
Issue Date:
2007-01
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Purpose - The paper seeks to investigate whether project managers regard software development projects as design problems or production problems. Design/methodology/approach - Project management literature was examined to determine what evidence there should be to indicate whether a software development project was regarded as a problem to be solved or a product to be produced. Data were then collected through structured interview of project managers currently engaged in managing software development projects. The data were analysed to determine how project managers regarded their projects and whether this matched a theoretical expectation. Findings - The empirical data indicated that most project managers regard their projects as production problems, where it is assumed that the underlying problem is largely understood, the project encapsulated in a planned schedule of activities and there will be an emphasis on monitoring the project against the planned progress. Research limitations/implications - Owing to the small sample size of fewer than 30 project managers, external validity is weak. More research is needed to confirm these results over a larger sample and to probe more subtle orientation to production or design projects. Practical implications - The research developed a simple test to indicate the degree of novelty of the application to be developed. The test indicates whether the application is novel and should be treated as a design problem, or well known and therefore should be treated as a production problem. Originality/value - The paper draws attention to the need for project managers to evaluate the type of application to be developed and to adopt an appropriate project management approach. The paper also provides a simple test to achieve that objective.
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