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Organizing Software Project Control Practices

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The software maintenance process is one of the most costly activities within information system practice. The purpose of this paper is to address some of the difficulties in this process, by proposing a framework for the development of maintenance model. Essential to the software maintenance process is an ability to understand not only the software but the required changes as well. This can only be achieved where the relevant knowledge is available. Based upon this primary requirement, the proposed framework has made the knowledge as its basis for modelling other requirements for software maintenance model development. The framework first identifies the three operational elements, i.e. function, static entity and dynamic entity, required for general software maintenance process. With respect to the knowledge (as part of the dynamic entity components), the framework shows how these three operational elements should behave and interact amongst themselves to deliver a successful software maintenance model.
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Purpose This paper aims to explore a case study example of the decision‐making process that occurs within complex organizations. It exposes a murky “zone” of decision making and action between the strategic vision set by senior management and the work of teams to realise projects. Design/methodology/approach A case study from the experience of one of the authors is used to illustrate the activities in this “zone”. The lessons from the case study are supported by emerging project management and general management literature. The paper is exploratory in nature and the case study used provides a useful vehicle for reflection and sensemaking. Findings The “zone” is metaphorically described as a highly complex and dynamic organism. Operating in the “zone” requires agility and an understanding of both the project and the organizational environment to cope with the demands of its chaotic nature. The paper's conclusions indicate that the traditional command‐and‐control management style is counter‐productive in today's organizations. Research limitations/implications Key implications include the need for project managers and their teams to be politically astute and sensitive to the needs and pressures of a wide range of project stakeholders. A methodology and tool for visualising the influence of stakeholders can be of considerable use and a flexible style of decision making is necessary to manage within the inherent uncertainty, complexity and chaos found in projects and organizations like the one illustrated by the case study. Originality/value Shows that a paradigm shift in management thinking is needed to succeed in managing projects and their teams within the turbulent environment of a modern matrix organization.
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Project escalation is known to frequently occur in the context of information systems (IS) projects. The reluctance to hear bad news—a phenomenon that has been labelled the "deaf effect"—has been suggested as a possible reason for why projects are allowed to escalate for as long as they sometimes do. The deaf effect response to bad news reporting has received little research attention, yet may account for many cases of project escalation. The research reported here provides a description of conditions under which the deaf effect is likely to occur. Hypotheses regarding factors involved in causing the deaf effect are articulated based on Miceli and Near's theory of bad news reporting effectiveness and further elaborated using insights from the cognitive psychology literature of decision-making. The extended theory was then tested experimentally using a role-playing experiment. Results suggest that when a decision maker perceives a relevant message, s/he is willing to de-escalate the project. Bad news reporter credibility and the gender of the bad news reporter were found to be key factors in the determination of message relevance.
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Manfred Bundschuh is IT quality manager with AXA Service AG, Cologne, Germany as well as president of DASMA e.V., the German metrics organization. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005. All rights are reserved.
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An individual's reluctance to report the actual status of a troubled project has recently received research attention as an important contributor to project failure. While there are a variety of factors influencing the reluctance to report, prior information systems research has focused on only situational factors such as risk, information asymmetry, and time pressure involved in the given situation. In this paper, we examine the effects of both situational and personal factors on an individual's reporting behavior within the rubric of the basic whistle-blowing model adapted from Dozier and Miceli . Specifically, we identify perceived impact of information technology (IT) failure as a situational factor and personal morality and willingness to communicate as personal factors, and investigate their effects on the assessments and decisions that individuals make about reporting the IT project's status. Based on the results of a controlled laboratory experiment, we found that perceived impact of IT failure directly affects an individual's assessment of whether a troubled project's status ought to be reported, exerting an indirect influence on willingness to report bad news, and that personal morality directly affects all three steps in the basic whistle-blowing model, as hypothesized. Willingness to communicate, however, was found not to affect an individual's willingness to report bad news. The implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.
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This article analyses the relationships between personality, team processes, task characteristics, product quality and satisfaction in software development teams. The data analysed here were gathered from a sample of 35 teams of students (105 participants). These teams applied an adaptation of an agile methodology, eXtreme Programming (XP), to develop a software product. We found that the teams with the highest job satisfaction are precisely the ones whose members score highest for the personality factors agreeableness and conscientiousness. The satisfaction levels are also higher when the members can decide how to develop and organize their work. On the other hand, the level of satisfaction and cohesion drops the more conflict there is between the team members. Finally, the teams exhibit a significant positive correlation between the personality factor extraversion and software product quality.
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The failure rate of information systems development projects is high. Agency theory offers a potential explanation for it. Structured interviews with 12 IS project managers about their experiences managing IS development projects show how it can be used to understand IS development project outcomes. Managers can use the results of the interviews to improve their own IS project management. Researchers can use them to examine agency theory with a larger number of project managers.
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Successful process improvement depends heavily on a close tracking of actual results versus the improvement plan. For concerting different reengineering activities, process managers must implement a proactive, forward-looking oversight mechanism designed to ensure that the various ongoing projects within the company operate in a performance zone that provides the expected business value. Technical controlling of software projects is introduced as a comprehensive controlling activity consisting of analyzing and interpreting project information for strategy formulation, planning and tracking activities, decision-making, and cost accounting. For practical guidelines this article focuses on introducing and maintaining a corporate program for technical controlling in a highly distributed large organization. Experiences are shared that show how technical controlling closely relates and thus supports an ongoing software process improvement initiative.
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Establishing a software measurement programme within an organization is not a straightforward task. Previous literature surveys have focused on software process improvement in general and software measurement has been analysed in case studies. This literature survey collects the data from separate cases and presents the critical success factors that are specific to software measurement programmes. We present a categorization of the success factors based on organizational roles that are involved in measurement. Furthermore, the most essential elements of success in different phases of the life cycle of the measurement programme are analysed. It seems that the role of upper management is crucial when starting measurement and the individual developers’ impact increases in the later phases. Utilization of the measurement data and improvement of the measurement and development processes requires active management support again.
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Recent research has suggested that flawed status reporting is a serious concern in IS projects. However, the linkage between reporting quality and project performance has not been empirically confirmed. Our investigation consisted of two complementary studies, both of which employed previously validated measures of reporting quality and project outcomes. The first considered the perceptions of 210 IS project members of the quality of status reports they submitted to their project managers. The second considered the perceptions of 485 IS project managers of the quality of project reports they received from project members reporting to them. Both showed that the perceived quality of project reporting was less than perfect and was significantly associated with project task and psychological outcomes. Moreover, the second study results suggested that reporting quality was also related to organizational outcomes. We offer recommendations for project managers.
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Research has failed to establish a conclusive link between levels of user involvement and information system project success. Communication and control theories indicate that the quality of interactions between users and inofrmation personnel may serve to better the coordinaton in a project and lead to greater success. A model is developed that directly relates management control to the quality of interaction and project success, with interaction quality as a potential intermediary. These variables provide a more distinct relationship to success as interactions are more structurally defined and controlled. A survey of 196 IS professionals provides evidence that management control techniques improve the quality of user–IS personnel interactions and eventual project success. These formal structures provide guidelines for managers in controlling the critical relations between users and IS personnel.