|L577: Week 1
Beise, C.M. (2004). IT project management and virtual teams. Proceedings of the 2004 SIGMIS Conference on Computer Personnel Research: Careers, Culture, and Ethics in a Networked Environment. 129 – 133
Globalized organizations accomplish more of their goals using cross-functional, and often cross-cultural, geographically dispersed, project teams
The increased diversity of skills, knowledge, cultures, and perspectives of these teams can have both positive and negative influences on group processes and outcomes
Typically, managers use the Project Management Book of Knowledge
How well does this work when there is a lot of diversity?
To what extent can and do project management methods and tools benefit diverse virtual teams while mitigating its challenges?
What are the effects of formal project management on diversity related conflict?
Problem: IT projects have a long history of being late, over budget, and often resulting in less than high quality outcomes
Led to formalized project management (PM) methods to plan, monitor, and control cost, time, and quality
Definition: Projects are distinguished from on-going operational
They are temporary, have a unique and specific goal, have a specific star date and end date, and require a diverse set of human resources, each of whom brings specified needed skills and knowledge to the project tasks
Task: Successful project managers plan and implement formal communication and coordination processes that include both task-related and process-related information
Includes cost, time, quality
Methods for managing integration, scope, resources, risk, people, communication
There are 5 processes that apply to all knowledge areas
Initiating, planning, executing, controlling, closing
Goal is to help manager deal with an organizational context with resource constraints and in response to multiple, often conflicting stakeholder demands.
Research has found that scheduled milestones and firm deadlines can positively affect team performance
Teams with assigned roles and responsibilities produce higher quality deliverables than those without
Communication and information flows must be more frequent, even continuous, in distributed contexts to maintain commitment and build trust
Risk management is a critical success factor
A clear, measurable performance reporting system that links project objectives to critical actions needed to perform them can overcome culture differences and other barriers
Comprehensive reviews indicate mixed results regarding effects of diversity on work group processes and outcomes
Their interaction is complex and mitigated by organizational and social contexts
Diversity may increase conflict and thus result in process losses
Conflict, when surfaced and resolved, can result in greater creativity, more learning, and better decision-making, through generating more and better alternatives and through greater external communication
Increasing some types of diversity on IT project teams, specifically diverse perspectives in terms of technical versus social, may reduce project risk
Factors in project success interconnect in complex ways
Task, formal and informal team processes, individual team member characteristics and contributions, resource constraints, organizational context factors, and, in the case of distributed, or “virtual,” teams, ICT availability and use
Brown, J., and Dobbie, G. (1999). Supporting and evaluating team dynamics in group projects. The Proceedings of the Thirtieth SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education. 281-285.
Problem: supporting team processes in group project work
Provide students with valuable experiences
Developing abilities to work in groups
Respecting the work and skills of others
Developing presentation and interaction abilities
Teams outperform individuals because they bring together complementary skills, create a situation where problems are solved more quickly, provide a social frame work for working, and create a fun atmosphere in which to work
How to support teams
Provide technical support
Define process guidelines
Define and establish team structure
Make sure all necessary skills are represented
Learn from past team experiences
Provide training on team processes
How to set realistic project goals
How to allocate tasks to team members
How to run meetings and manage time
How to communicate and manage shared group documents
Coordinate the activities of the team (tracking progress, scheduling work)
Motivate the team ensure the team communicates effectively interface with supervisor,
Arrange meetings with client when necessary set agendas for meetings
Help to set the team goals (project goals, task allocations)
Help the team move towards these goals
Accomplish tasks given to them
Attend team meetings
Contribute to developing a productive atmosphere within the team
Gillard, S. and Johansen, J. (2004). Project management communication: A systems approach Journal of Information Science, 30(1), 23-29
There are verbal and non-verbal issues that affect project management
It is possible to shape the communication environment in ways that improve management
Technology alone is insufficient to improve communication
Project managers, who can expect to spend a large percentage of their time in communication activities
There is a high correlation between performance problems and communication problems
It is not just a matter of having access to information – interpretation and sharing of information is also critical
ITPM have a unique situation
They supervise both permanent members of the program office and temporarily attached members from functional and/or technical support department
The temporarily attached project team members answer to two supervisors: the project manager and a functional supervisor
Supervise attached subordinates from several functional areas since IS often transcends disciplines
Associate with a multiplicity of end-users in determining user requirements
Interact with the functional managers of both attached personnel and end users involved with the project
Interact with the program department manager as well as senior-level management from whom resources are acquired and to whom the project manager is answerable
Coordinate the efforts of diverse vendors, contractors and other outside agencies
Each requires a different type of communication that cross organizational lines and boundaries
Communication can be a closed system
Input (sender) Process (message) Output (receiver)
If it is an open system, there is interaction with the environment
Input from the environment is accepted but there is no real control system
Input from the environment is accepted but there is also a control mechanism with a feedback loop
How it works
Communication involves formulating, transmitting, and receiving verbal and nonverbal messages that produce a response, evaluation, and possible correction
The sender (or encoder) formulates a message using internal processes
The message is sent to a receiver (or decoder) who determines the meaning of the message according to personal, internal processes
Both parties are influenced by their own background and by sub-system environmental factors and sensory impressions
Project manager Message (genre) Media (the channel makes a difference) Receiver (interpretation) Feedback (from receiver)
Noise involves barriers to communication
Technical, psychological, social and cultural
Collins, G. (2001). Managing teams
Projects may last an afternoon or may be ongoing over several semesters or even years. You might be the only member of the project team or you might be managing several of your fellow students. You may be responsible for the whole project or you may have to work with other project leaders to complete a larger project.
Projects vary; so, I'm going to speak generally about the qualities of managers and those they manage. The object of this lecture is to prepare you to manage a project team by: giving you an idea of what is expected by computing, providing suggestions on how to effectively lead your fellow students.
You're a student; so, your manager expects certain reports from you, as the project leader. Here are some possible reports you may be asked to generate and some idea of how to do that:
Milestones/timeline: This may be given to you by your supervisor; but, if you have to do this yourself: Look over the (Un)common Sense section of this document and create a plan that details what gets done when, to keep your project on time. Your supervisor will most likely look over the document you draft and make changes
Reporting (detailing problems, insights, performance): Along the way, as your project progresses, you'll want to note areas/tasks where your team had difficulties and how these difficulties were met. This will allow you (and your supervisor) to reassess your project and revise your milestones/timeline to take new developments into consideration
Request assistance: One of the most important things a worker, any worker, can do is to realize and ask when they need help. Failure to ask for help may result in injury to yourself or to your fellows; or, it might mean that the project is set back till someone else recognizes that additional help is required
Write up (detailing problems, insights, performance): Upon completion, your supervisor may ask for a (detailed) write up of your project. This document will provide future team leaders with a blueprint of how your project went so they may learn from your insights and your difficulties. It will also provide clues, later, if some aspect of your project fails or needs to be reworked. Both this report and that kept during the progress of the project are only as good as the information you keep in them; details and clear explanation are essential to the worth of these document.
You're leading your fellows; so, work with them and they will follow you. The mechanics of leading a group (especially when there may be no clear hierarchic structure) is a complex thing. Let us consider a model that is more in the vein of Thomas Hobbes than that of Friedrich Nietzsche*:
Guiding vs. Ordering: The way to say it makes a lot/all the difference. I don't know anyone who likes being told what to do; so, ask your fellow team members to do things
Working with vs. Overseeing: The project leader has to keep the bigger picture in mind; but, that does not mean that they merely oversee their fellows. It provides a positive work dynamic if you work with your fellow team members (as opposed to making them do the work while you do the thinking)
The bottom line: Consider the way you'd like to be treated if you were a member of this project team and then consider your fellows' individual situations.
*Being feared is all well and good; but, in this hostile world, it seems more circumspect (to me) to work together for the common good.
Work smart. I know it's cliché; but, a lot of time and effort may be saved if you think things out before you start working with your team.
What are the objectives of this project? What end "product" is expected when your team is done?
Do you have all the tools (both physical and skills-wise) to complete your project?
If your project relies upon the assistance/cooperation of an outside individual (or group), keep communication open with that person (or group).
Plan your work (what needs to happen first so that the preceding steps may be completed).
Prioritize the tasks within the project as well as balancing the project work with your regular work.
Give yourself and your team enough time to work on the project and its sub-tasks (time when you will not be distracted by other work).
Keil, M. Smith, H.J., Pawlowski, S., and Jin, L. (2004).'Why didn't somebody tell me?': climate, information asymmetry, and bad news about troubled projects ACM SIGMIS 35(2) 65 - 84.
Organizations have difficulties telling people and other organizations bad news
When large projects fail, it takes them a long time for information to filter up to senior management
Sometimes it can be distorted as it is transmitted up the hierarchy
This can lead to “runaway” projects, on which resources are expended past the point where rationality would dictate
Since delayed reporting of bad news reduces an organization’s ability to prepare for a failure, losses will often be larger when failure eventually does occur
Research shows that sometimes IS auditors frequently suppress negative project status information due to personal and organizational factors
Since it is their job to report this, it would imply that the rate of non-reporting is larger in the general population of managers
Sometimes this may be reasonable
With functions being added as the project progresses a person may believe that a certain IS project is in trouble, but there may be some uncertainty about the conclusion
Also, because of intangibles, observers may have a difficult time in estimating the proportion of work that remains, and they may not exhibit enough confidence to report their perceptions.
Accurate communication about projects and their status is critical if organizations are to avoid costly and embarrassing debacles
What are some key variables that influence a person’s willingness to report bad news?
Based on whistle blowing and agency theory?
Research has shown that that two specific factors—perceived impact of a project’s failure and perceived immorality of behavior in the project’s management—had significant explanatory power in individuals’ reporting decisions
This research tests these and adds perceived organizational climate and sustained information asymmetry (from agency theory)
Whistle-blowers: organization members who disclose information about dysfunctional organizational activities to either persons or organizations who may be able to address the problems
In their scenario the organizational dysfunction is that resources are devoted to a project that is not delivering what was intended when the resources were allocated
The individual does not have the authority to take action and must report to someone who does
Questions: should the situation be reported?
Is the person responsible for taking action?
What action should the individual take?
Their perspective is that unless the individual assesses a sense of personal responsibility for taking action, the model posits that there will be some reluctance to report
Agency theory suggests that the organizational climate can create an “incentive to shirk” because an individual’s own interests may diverge from those of the firm
If an organization’s climate is one in which “bad news gets you killed,” this will inhibit reporting
The extent to which conditions of information asymmetry hold—some individuals are privy to information but others are not—should also be a salient factor in determining reporting behavior
Several empirical studies have shown that these conditions can cause individuals to continue a failing project
H1: A stronger assessment that information ought to be communicated will be reflected in a higher assessed level of personal responsibility for reporting [supported]
H2:Higher levels of assessed personal responsibility will be associated with less reluctance to report bad status news [supported]
H3: Organizational climates in which individuals are encouraged to report negative information will lead to stronger assessments that the individual is personally responsible for reporting [supported]
H4: When negative information can be hidden effectively from superiors, individuals will be less inclined to assess that such information ought to be reported [supported]
Tested with a scenario
The subject was asked to play the role of the system development project manager who discovers a serious problem with the system that will have a significant negative impact on the client’s ability to process orders unless corrective action is taken
High information asymmetry
The subject was informed that the client would not detect the problem for a period of 5 months and that in one month the subject would receive a promotion to another division of the company where there was very little chance that anyone would hear about the ultimate success or failure of this project
Low information asymmetry
The subject was informed that the problem would become visible to everyone immediately when the system was delivered to the client
An organizational climate conducive to reporting bad news
The company for which the subject worked emphasizes the importance of full disclosure
Subjects in this treatment condition were informed that their company expected them “not to misrepresent or withhold information concerning the state of affairs existing or expected regarding any aspect of a project”
Also, in one past case, “a project leader who disclosed negative project information was commended and shortly thereafter received an expected promotion”
An organizational climate that was not conducive to reporting bad news
The norm in your company is that project leaders are expected to keep negative project information to themselves – not to inform either their supervisor or the client
Also, in a previous case, “a project leader who disclosed negative project information was severely reprimanded and denied an expected promotion in spite of a very strong track record
N=122 grad students
30: High asymmetry, conducive for reporting bad news
30: High asymmetry, not conducive for reporting bad news
30: Low asymmetry, conducive for reporting bad news
30: Low asymmetry, not conducive for reporting bad news
Model explains 38% of variance in reluctance to report
It explains 57% of assessment of personal responsibility
It only explains 4% of assessment that the status ought to be reported
A strong relationship between perceptions of whether something ought to be reported and whether there is a perceived personal responsibility to report
A strong inverse relationship between personal responsibility and reluctance to report
information asymmetry and organizational climate— appear to exert their influence through perceptions of whether something ought to be reported and personal responsibility, respectively
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