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The Project Implementation Profile: New Tool for Project Managers

Authors:
September 1986
The
Project
Implementation
Profile:
New
Tool
For
Project
Managers
Dennis
P.
Slevin
University
of
Pittsburgh
Jeffrey
K.
Pinto
University
of
Cincinnati
The
project management process
is
complex,
involv-
ing
simultaneous attention
to a
broad variety
of
human, budgetary,
and
technical variables. While
numerous models have been developed providing tech-
nical
support
for the
project manager (such
as
critical
path,
modeling, budgetary spread
sheets,
activity
flow
charts, etc.),
a
great need exists
for a
model that
addresses
the
human
and
managerial aspects
of
suc-
cessful
project management.
The
project manager
needs
to
know what factors
are
critical
to
successful
project implementation. These factors should
be
suffi-
ciently
broad
that
they
encompass
important
aspects
of
organizational
and
managerial behavior
and
suffi-
ciently
precise that they provide real guidance
for the
practicing project manager. This model should provide
the
basis
for the
monitoring, anticipating,
and
resource
allocating
functions
faced
by the
project manager.
In
addition,
it
would
be
ideal
if a
diagnostic
device were
available
to
project managers
so
that they could,
in
some numerical fashion, assign scores
to
critical suc-
cess factors
and
track them over time. This would per-
mit
managers
to
better allocate their time
and
resources
across diverse factors, making sure that
all
critical suc-
cess factors
are
attended
to.
This article presents
a
conceptual model
of the
proj-
ect
implementation process
and a
diagnostic instru-
ment
for the
project manager.
The
methodology used
to
arrive
at the
model
and the
instrument
is
discussed
briefly.
Each
of the ten
critical success factors
is de-
fined,
along
with
key
questions relevant
to
each fac-
tor. These factors should
be of
great importance
to the
1
Portions
of
this
article
were
adapted
from
the
chapter
on
Project Management
in
Executive
Survival
Manual,
by
Dennis
P.
Slevin,
Pittsburgh:
Innodyne,
Inc,
1985.
project manager, since they represent
a
framework
for
effective
project monitoring. Finally,
to
further
illus-
trate
the
effectiveness
of the
Project Implementation
Profile
(PIP),
examples
are
given
of
projects that have
been evaluated using
the PIP as a way of
illustrating
their relative
strengths
and
weaknesses.
Development
Of The Ten
Factor
Model
Projective information
was
obtained from subjects
who had
some project involvement within
the
last
two
years. Participants were asked
to
consider
a
successful
project with which they
had
been
involved
and
then
to put
themselves
in the
position
of a
project manager
charged
with
the
responsibility
of
successful
project
implementation. They were then asked
to
indicate
things
that
they
could
do
that would substantially help
implementation success. This procedure, sometimes
called
Project
Echo,
was
developed
by
Alex Bavelas
[2].
Responses were then sorted into categories
by two ex-
perts. Both experts sorted
the
responses into
ten
cate-
gories
and
inter-rater agreement, based
on
percentage
of
responses similarly sorted across
the
total
number,
was
.50,
or 119 out of
236. Eliminating duplications
and
miscellaneous
responses,
a
total
of 94
usable
responses were classified across
ten
factors. These
ten
factors
formed
the
basis
for the
conceptual model
and
the
individual responses formed
the
basis
for the
ques-
tionnaire items used
in the
diagnostic instrument.
Factor
Definitions
1.
Project Mission. Initial clarity
of
goals
and
general
directions.
2. Top
Management Support. Willingness
of top
management
to
provide
the
necessary resources
and
authority/power
for
project success.
PROJECT
MANAGEMENT JOURNAL page
57
September
1986
3.
Project
Schedule/Plan.
A
detailed specification
of
the
individual action steps required
for
project
im-
plementation.
4.
Client
Consultation.
Communication, consulta-
tion,
and
active listening
to all
impacted parties.
5.
Personnel. Recruitment, selection
and
training
of
the
necessary personnel
for the
project team.
6.
Technical Tasks. Availability
of the
required tech-
nology
and
technical steps
to
accomplish
the
specific technical
action
steps.
7.
Client
Acceptance.
The act of
"selling"
the
final
project
to its
ultimate intended users.
8.
Monitoring
and
Feedback. Timely provision
of
comprehensive
control
information
at
each
stage
in
the
implementation process.
9.
Communication.
The
provision
of an
appropriate
network
and
necessary
data
to all key
actors
in the
project implementation.
10.
Trouble-Shooting. Ability
to
handle unexpected
crises
and
deviations from plan.
Process Model
Of
Project Implementation
As
Figure
1
shows,
a
framework
of
project
im-
plementation
has
been developed
for
heuristic pur-
poses,
based
on the ten
factors discovered
in our
analysis.
Conceptually, they were found
to be se-
quenced
to
occur
in a
certain order instead
of
randomly
or
concurrently.
To
illustrate, consider that, according
to the
framework,
it is
first
important
to set the
goals
or
define
the
mission
and
benefits
of the
project
be-
fore
seeking
top
management support. Furthermore,
one
could argue that unless consultation with
the
project's clients
has
occurred early
in the
process,
chances
of
subsequent client acceptance
and
use,
denoting
successful implementation [12],
will
be
nega-
tively
affected.
Related
to the
temporal aspect,
the
factors
of
proj-
ect
implementation
can be
laid
out in a
rough critical
path,
similar
to the
critical
path
methodology
used
to
develop
a new
product
or to
determine
the
steps
in an
OR/MS project.
In
addition
to the set of
seven fac-
tors
along
the
critical path, ranging from Project
Mission
to
Client Acceptance, other factors such
as
Communication
and
Monitoring
&
Feedback
are
hypothesized
to
necessarily occur simultaneously
and
in
harmony with
the
other sequential factors.
As
several
of the
participants
in the
study indicated,
it is
impor-
tant that Communication always occur
or
that Trouble-
Shooting
be
available throughout
the
implementation
process.
It
should
be
noted,
however,
that
the
"arrows"
Ten
Key
Factors
of the
Project
Implementation
Profile
Copyright
@
1984
Randall
L.
Schultz
and
Dennis
P.
Slevin.
Used
with
Permission.
Figure
1
page
58
PROJECT
MANAGEMENT
JOURNAL
September
1986
in
the
model represent information
flows
and se-
quences,
not
necessarily causal
or
correlational
relationships.
The
following
will
discuss
the ten
critical success fac-
tors
in
more
detail, relating several
key
questions
or
facets
of the
implementation
process
to
each
factor.
In
addition
to a
brief discussion
of the
factors, several
points
of
consideration
are
raised. These points repre-
sent questions
the
project manager should
be
asking
at
each stage
in the
implementation process,
or at
each
point
where
it has
been determined that that particu-
lar
success factor
has
become critical
to the
ongoing
implementation.
Factor
1:
Project Mission
The
initial
step
of the
implementation
process
is to
clarify
the
goals
of the
project
[6]
[10].
Implementa-
tion
of any new
project
is an
expensive
use of
organiza-
tional resources: time, money,
and
energy.
Are the
project's mission
and
goals clearly defined
so
that
you
know
exactly where
it is
going
and how it can
help
the
organization?
Considerations:
Is the
mission
clear?
Do I
understand
why the
project
is
being con-
sidered?
Is it
necessary?
Do I
think
it can
succeed?
Are the
goals
specific
and
operational?
Factor
2: Top
Management
Support
After
getting
a
clear idea
of
what
the
mission
and
benefits
of the
project are,
it is
crucial
to
gain
the
sup-
port
of top
management. Without their vocal
and
visi-
ble
support,
the
project
may be
seen
as
unnecessary,
pointless,
or
unimportant
by the
rest
of the
organiza-
tion.
Early
in a new
project's
life,
no
single factor
is
as
predictive
of its
success
as the
support
of top
management
[4]
[13].
Considerations:
Is top
management convinced
the
project
is
necessary?
Are
they convinced
it
will
succeed?
Have they made their support clear
to
everyone
affected
by the
project?
Do top
mangement
and I
understand
my
role
in
the
implementation process?
Do I
have their confidence?
Will they support
me,
even
in a
crisis?
Factor
3:
Project Schedule/Plan
For a
project
to get off the
ground,
it
needs
a
well
thought-out,
workable
plan.
All
activities necessary
to
successful
implementation need
to be
scheduled. Fur-
thermore,
all
necessary people, money, time,
and
other
resources
to
complete
the
project
must
be
allocated.
Finally,
an
optimal
way of
measuring
the
progress
of
the
implementation against schedule projections must
be
used
]6]
[11].
Considerations:
Does
the
plan
make sense,
is it
workable?
Is the
allocation
of
time, money,
and
people
acceptable?
Am I
satisfied
that
I had
enough
input
in the
planning?
Will
the
organization
follow
through
on the
plan?
Do I
need
to
worry
about
funds being
cut or
sched-
ules being altered without consultation?
Does
the
plan have enough slack
to
allow
for
cost
or
time overruns?
Factor
4:
Client Consultation
The
"client"
here
refers
to
whoever will ultimately
be
using
the
result
of the
project.
It
could
be a
cus-
tomer external
to the
organization
or a
department
within
the
company. Because this project
is for the
client's benefit, close
and
frequent consultation with
the
client
is
imperative
to
make sure
the
effort
remains
in
line with
his
needs (See,
for
example,
[9]).
Outside Client Considerations:
Do I
understand
the
client?
Do I
know what
he
wants?
(Or is it
what
I
want
him
to
want?)
Have
I
scheduled regular meetings with
the
client
to
keep
him
up-to-date
on the
project's progress?
Inside
Client
Considerations:
Who are the key
people
who
must support this
project?
Is
political
activity
needed
to get
client
acceptance?
Is the
client accepting
or
resisting?
Factor
5:
Personnel
The
organization's people represent
an
important
situational variable
in the
implementation process
[8].
As
often occurs
in the
case
of
implementing
a new and
unfamiliar
project,
we
cannot always
be
sure
we
have
the
necessary
people
needed
for the
project
team.
As
a
result, attention should
be
paid
to
selecting
and
train-
ing
key
personnel
who can
help make this
a
successful
project.
Neglect
of
this
factor
can
force
the use of
per-
PROJECT MANAGEMENT JOURNAL
page
59
September
1986
sonnel
based
on
convenience (simply because they
are
there), regardless
of
whether they
will
be
helpful
or
harmful
to the
project.
Considerations:
Do I
have
the
opportunity
to
pick
and
train
my
project
team
personnel? Must
I use
personnel
al-
ready
in
place?
Do I get
along with
my
personnel? Have
I
worked
with
them before?
Can I
trust
my key
subordinates?
Does
the
organization have
the
kinds
of
person-
nel
that
I
need? Will
I
need
to
recruit them
from
outside?
Am I
satisfied with
the
team's
technical training
and
skills?
Factor
6:
Technical Tasks
It
is
important that
the
project's implementation
be
well
managed
by
people
who
understand
it. In
addi-
tion,
the
project leader
and
personnel must have ade-
quate technology available
to
support
the
project (e.g.,
equipment, training,
etc.).
For
successful project
implementation, skilled people
and
proper technology
are
equally significant.
Considerations:
Have
I
assigned
the
correct technical problems
to
the
right
people?
Have
I
adequately documented
and
detailed
the
required technology?
Does
the
technology work well?
Does
my
team understand
all
aspects
of the
tech-
nology
necessary
for
success?
Have
I
made provisions
to
update technology
as
minor project changes occur?
Factor
7:
Client Acceptance
The
obvious
bottom
line question
for
determining
whether
or not a
project
is
successfully
implemented
is,
"Has
the
client bought it?" This must
be
asked
whether
the
client
is
internal
or
external
to the
organi-
zation.
Too
often managers make
the
mistake
of
believing
that
if
they handle
all the
other steps well,
the
client
will
automatically accept
the
resulting pro-
ject.
The
truth
is,
client acceptance
is a
stage
in
pro-
ject implementation that must
be
managed
like
any
other
[3].
Considerations:
Have
I
considered
in
advance
a
strategy
to
sell
this
project
to the
client?
Do I
have leeway
to
negotiate with them?
In the
event
of
problems
in the
"teething"
period
of the
project,
do I
have
troubleshooters
in
place
to
help
the
client?
Will
the
project team
be
allowed
to
assist
in
follow-
up or
will
it be
disbanded immediately
upon
completion?
Does
the
organization
view
this
as a
"one-shot
deal"
or are
organization members helping
us to
identify
other potential clients?