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Aim, Fire, Aim – Project Planning Styles in Dynamic Environments

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Rapidly changing environments are a newly recognized and increasing challenge in the field of project management. Traditional prescriptive approaches, oriented around process control, are considered suboptimal in meeting this challenge. In this article, the authors present an exploratory theory-building study aiming to identify the project management approaches used by experienced practitioners to respond to rapidly changing environments. The results of 37 semistructured interviews with 31 participants across 10 industries (i.e., construction, aerospace, international community development, pharmaceutical, defense, film production, start-ups, venture capital, research, and information technology) were analyzed according to the planning styles used. Results are discussed in the light of previous research, and a model for better management in rapidly changing environments is proposed. © 2010 Project Management Institute
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Aim Fire Aim - Project Management in Dynamic Environments – Planning Styles
Simon Collyer,
The University of Queensland
Dr. Clive Warren
The University of Queensland
Bronwyn Hemsley
The University of Queensland
Chris Stevens
The University of Queensland
Contact
Simon Collyer
Building 42, St Lucia Brisbane 4072, Australia
s.collyer@uq.edu.au
Ph 61 401991111
(8400 words)
Indexing words: dynamism, dynamic, planning, emergent, iterative project management
Abstract
Rapidly changing environments are a newly recognized and increasing challenge in the field of project
management. Traditional prescriptive approaches, orientated around process control, are considered
sub-optimal in meeting this challenge. In this article, the authors present an exploratory theory-
building study aiming to identify the project management approaches used by experienced
practitioners to respond to rapidly changing environments. The results of thirty-seven semi-structured
interviews with thirty-one participants across ten industries (i.e. construction, aerospace, international
community development, pharmaceutical, defense, film production, startups, venture capital,
research, and information technology) were analyzed according to the planning styles used. Results
are discussed in the light of previous research and a model for better management in rapidly
changing environments proposed.
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Introduction
Dynamism in the project environment is an increasing threat to projects across all industries
providing challenges even where complex technology is not an element of the core business (CSIRO,
2007; Dodgson, 2004; Gareth R Jones, 2004; Perrino & Tipping, 1991; Rothwell & Zegveld, 1985;
Sugden, 2001). Traditional prescriptive approaches, orientated around process control, are
considered sub-optimal in meeting this challenge (Ashton, Johnson, & Cook, 1990; Koskela & Howell,
2002; Sachs & Meditz, 1979, p. 1081; Sugden, 2001; Williams, 2004). In this article, the term
‘dynamism’ is used to refer to rapid change in the project management context. It is acknowledged
that dynamism is a linear dimension, and just one of many project dimensions that may be taken into
account when selecting the project management approach for a project. The needs of other
dimensions may outweigh those of dynamism. Previous research suggested that the causes of
change can be organized into three broad categories (Collyer & Warren, 2009)
Change in materials, resources, tools and techniques
Changing relationships with other related projects, services or products
Changing goals due to changes in what is possible, changes in competition, or changes in the
general business environment, such as government policy
Examples of problems caused by project dynamism include: (a) difficulty planning, (b) short
timeframes, (c) high levels of interdependence between projects, (d) high levels of customization, (e)
planning for uncertain outcomes, (f) balancing flexibility with reliability and accountability, (g)
balancing decision quality against decision speed, and (h) timing scope freeze during rapid change
(Collyer & Warren, 2009).
To date, the challenge faced by projects conducted in dynamic and uncertain environments is
a key unresolved project management issue (Collyer & Warren, 2009; Gray & Larson, 2003). In
recognition of this, Collyer and Warren (2009) reviewed the literature on project dynamism and
approaches for managing it, and provided a fuller explanation of change causes and approaches for
managing rapid change (see Collyer and Warren, 2009 for a full revision of the research surrounding
each approach):
Environmental manipulation (Make Static) is about resisting change in the project and the industry
generally to better allow traditional waterfall style detailed planning (Collyer & Warren, 2009). This
involves active efforts to reduce the amount of dynamism in the general project environment.
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Emergent planning informed with feedback. This may also be known as rolling wave or iterative
(Collyer & Warren, 2009). This approach involves starting with a high level framework plan and
then filling the details in as they are made available. The details can be obtained through the use
of testing, prototyping, pilots and parallel experiments. The PMBOK
®
Guide—Fourth Edition does
recognize the need for emergent planning in its description of “What Is Project Management”
(PMI, 2008, p. 7). It cautions that many of the processes are iterative and make used of
progressive elaboration. The more that is learnt about a project the greater the level of detail with
which it can be managed. The fourth edition (PMI, 2008) uses the word ‘iterative’ thirteen times,
‘prototype’ twelve times, but ‘emergent, ‘pilot’, ‘experiment’, ‘staged’, ‘freeze’ are not defined or
explained. The use of ‘prototype’ is up from five mentions in the third edition (PMI, 2004).
In a non-participant example, the head of Intel, Andy Grove, advised that “the biggest
failures that you may encounter is not that your plan fails but you fail to depart from that plan”
(Grove & Ellis, 2001). While useful as a guide, excessive detail in the early stages of a project
may be problematic and misleading in a dynamic environment (Collyer & Warren, 2009) and
counter-productive to maintain. Grove & Ellis (2001) had previously advised that “plans are highly
overrated“ and that “plans are a baseline, in my opinion; a model of a life that you depart from as
you go on“ (Grove & Ellis, 2001).
Staged releases with the smallest possible scope in Stage One to reduce risk and allow proof of
concept (Collyer & Warren, 2009). This approach involves releasing smaller pilot and production
versions to the market to test and secure feedback before adding functionality or more capable
versions. This scope reduction approach makes the first stage as small as possible in order to
quickly obtain feedback that will allow the work to be brought in line with reality more rapidly.
Insert figure 3 about here
Competing experiments to more quickly identify the optimal approach (Collyer & Warren, 2009).
This is controlled experimentation.
Insert Figure 1 about here
Alternate controls to detailed process controls that assume a predictable environment. Greater
focus on input and output controls such as team selection and clear goals and reward (Collyer &
Warren, 2009). In this article control refers to how resources are managed to achieve objectives
(Ouchi, 1979, p. 833), as opposed to the technique discussed in the PMBOK® Guide—Fourth
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Edition (PMI, 2008, p. 430). There is increasing evidence to suggest that shifting the control
approach from process control to other approaches could be of benefit in dynamic environments
(Collyer & Warren, 2009). Traditional project management has focused on formal process control,
making used of detailed plans, but dynamic environments may benefit more from complementing
formal with informal forms of control (Collyer & W arren, 2009; Kirsch, 1997; Susilo, Heales, &
Rohde, 2007; Williams, 2005).
A project illustrative of those challenged by rapid change, was the Australian submarine project
which in the 1990’s grappled with advances in weapons system technology over its lifespan
(McIntosh & Prescott, 1999). Similarly, the Iridium satellite project’s goals were made redundant
by rapid developments in terrestrial cell phone networks, despite its success from a
time/cost/quality point of view (Highsmith, 2004). The same challenges apply to the smallest
businesses projects conducted in rapidly changing environments.
The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI, 2004) focuses on process control as opposed
to other forms of control, and does not specifically deal with the challenge of dynamism (Williams,
2005). Change control as described by the PMBOK® Guide—Fourth Edition (PMI, 2008) is a
detailed and bureaucratic process that does not include strategies specifically for keeping pace
with rapid change.
Suitable culture, communication and leadership styles such as collaborative leadership with a
greater focus on informal communication and rapid decision making (Collyer & Warren, 2009).
Despite support for a range of project management approaches most suited to dynamic environments
in the literature, to date there is little information available as to how practitioners implement these
approaches in practice. Dynamic capability is a term discussed in organisational literature and is
generally agreed to mean an organisation’s ability to adapt resources or activities to match
environmental change (Ambrosini & Bowman, 2009). The actual capabilities presented are so far in
this field are largely illustrative examples unsupported by empirical studies or applied to project
management specifically (Govind Menon, 2008; Pablo, Reay, Dewald, & Casebeer, 2007) .
Capabilities are argued by various researchers to include R&D acquisitions, alliances and product
innovation, absorptive capacity , organizational structure reconfiguration and resource divestment
(Ambrosini & Bowman, 2009). While there is certainly overlap with that area of research this study
focuses primarily on project management.
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
The aims of this research were to (a) determine what project managers perceive to cause
dynamism in their projects,(b) identify whether, how, and why experienced managers across a range
of industries encountering dynamic environments use five of the approaches proposed by Collyer and
Warren (Collyer & Warren, 2009) (c) determine in which contexts project managers perceive five
previously proposed project management planning approaches to be effective in practice when
dealing with dynamic projects, and (d) identify new practical coping strategies employed in dynamic
environments specifically to achieve management optimization in those environments.
This study is part of a larger research project aiming to develop theory on how to better manage the
dimension of dynamism in project management. This study focuses only on the five planning
approaches (resisting change, scope reduction, emergent planning, competing experiments, and
alternate controls) while the larger study includes an analysis of culture, communication, and
leadership style and new strategies suggested by participants, to build a grounded theory on the
subject. Findings from the larger study are reported elsewhere (Authors-de-identified, 2009).
Method
Research Design
A qualitative research design based upon grounded theory methodology was selected as
most suitable for addressing the aims of this research for three primary reasons: (1) dynamism in
project management is an area about which little is known, (2) the researchers were seeking an in-
depth understanding on the perspectives of project managers in actual environments, and qualitative
research methods are most suited to understanding the complexity of human behavior and
perceptions in naturalistic environments (Denzin & Lincoln, 1995) and (3) it was important that the
findings contributed to an emerging theory that was built from within the data rather than reflect
previously held positions or theories that historically have not considered the impact of change.
Participants
The researchers used purposive and theoretical sampling to recruit 31 project managers to
participate in the study. In total, 37 interviews were conducted with practitioners in organizations from
ten different industries. Purposeful sampling was employed to identify participants who were senior
practitioners or process designers with at least ten years experience from organizations that had been
operating for at least ten years, with the exception of the two start-up companies targeted for their
particular exposure to rapid change. This criteria was employed as a means to minimize collection of
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
novice or less proven strategies. Only participants who perceived they were significantly challenged
by the dimension of dynamism were included in the study. Participants’ label, description, and role are
presented in Table 1. One participant, Const1, was identified through theoretical sampling to inform
the study because the participant reported that the company was using essentially the same
techniques on their projects over the last 100 years. The spread of participants across diverse
industries ensured that a broad range of approaches to managing dynamic environments were
explored, and commonalities identified.
Insert Table 1 about here
Data Collection Procedure
In keeping with grounded theory methodology, information was gathered from a variety of
sources to triangulate findings and to inform the developing theory on project dynamism (Singleton &
Straights, 2005). This study involved in-depth interviews (face to face, telephone and email exchange
included), and a document review (of publicly available documents on companies represented by
participants). The first author also made field notes on the data throughout the entire period of data
collection that were included in the analysis and synthesis of results.
Interviews. The first author conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews to explore, clarify,
and confirm participants’ views on challenges and strategies (Creswell, 2003; Flick, 2006). This
interview type allowed the participants to elaborate on their understanding of the issues and explore
their understanding of the problem and the relevance of strategies used in addressing change in
project management environments. Each interview began with an open question “what do you think
are the causes of dynamism in your industry, and the project management challenges created in
managing this dynamism?.” Participants were asked to illustrate their responses with indicative,
pertinent examples. In the interviews, participants were asked to discuss ways their experiences of
previously document causes of change, and theoretical methods for managing change. Participants
were also asked about forms of management control they used to align work with an objective, and to
identify other approaches that they believe have been useful for dealing with rapid change in their
project environments.
Twenty-two of the semi-structured interviews were conducted face-to-face with participants,
allowing for immediate clarification and exploration by the researcher; a further fourteen interviews
were conducted in written form by email exchange of the researcher with the participant. One
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
interview was done via telephone. This enabled researchers to include project managers who were
geographically distant or time poor and otherwise unable to attend for a face-to-face interview.
Following analysis of the interviews, six of the participants were interviewed a second, to verify and
expand upon their responses and to confirm or clarify the researcher’s interpretations of the data. The
face to face interviews generally allowed more in depth exploration of the issues.
Document Search
A background document search was conducted on each participant’s company to investigate
project management approaches described in publicly available documents.
Field Notes
Field notes were made during and after interviews and interpretations were used to guide subsequent
interviews and formed the basis of discussions between researchers.
Transcription of the Interviews
All digitally recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim and all written responses were
transferred into Word documents and de-identified. In all interview transcripts participant names and
company names and any information that might potentially identify participants was deleted or
replaced with general descriptors (e.g. city, company, director).
Data Analysis
Interview transcripts and field notes were analyzed as data collection progressed. This
constant comparison involved continuously drawing interpretations and refining concepts from one
participant to the next (Creswell, 2003; Taylor & Bogdan, 1998; Yin, 2003). The constant comparative
thematic analysis of interview data facilitated the analysis across multiple participants and enabled
comparison across industries. Transcripts were read and re-read for content themes according to the
research questions. Researchers discussed the data to identify content themes, explore any possible
alternative interpretations of the data, to arrive at a consensus on the findings (Flick, 2006). Interview
transcripts were coded according to the content themes that were then organized into broader
categories of meaning as they emerged (Creswell, 2003). The unit of analysis is the project
management approach used by organizations conducting project management in dynamic
environments.
Verifying and Confirming Interpretations from the Data.
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Participants were sent written summaries of their interview with an invitation to amend or add
to the information. This procedure enabled the researchers to verify that their identification of themes
was an accurate representation of the participants intended meaning (Creswell, 2003).
Results and Discussion
This article investigates the first five approaches listed above. Of the five, four were supported
and clarified. The resist-change approach was considered more appropriate for static environments.
Most participants reported that their organization needed to embrace dynamism in order to remain
viable. Each of the approaches along with the clarifications are presented and discussed herein.
Change drivers identified by the participants included competition, the market including customer
requirements, and technology with its effect on tools and materials.
Change Causes
Changing materials, resources, tools and techniques
Research1 reported a complete environmental turnover every 6-10 years and how the
unpredictability of their materials or resources made planning extremely difficult. Start-up1 reported
“we have no option but to change the material, and we are inventing techniques as we go.” The
information technology participants highlighted how popular software products are updated and
change characteristics on an almost weekly basis. By comparison concrete has been in use for
hundreds of years, and its properties are well understood and predictable.
Traditional approaches to project management planning use progressive elaboration to break
complex goals into smaller components. If the properties of the materials change on a weekly basis
the process can become counter productive (Collyer & Warren, 2009). ITSVC2 described how “the
size of the learning curve is not predictable; expertise is ‘lumpy’ which creates resourcing/scheduling
issues; Testing of all aspects of new technology is difficult and time consuming.” Start-up2 reported
“we are leading the way in a new industry. There are many unknowns. Essentially we don’t know
what’s down there until we get in and do it.”
Changing relationships with other related projects, services or products
Managing multiple interdependent dynamic projects could amplify the planning problem for each
project significantly. A change in one project can create a change in another. Rapid changes in all
projects make prediction difficult. ITSVC2 cited high levels of system interdependence. The
interrelationships were so complicated that representations were considered to be almost as complex
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as the product systems, and just as time consuming to maintain. The construction counter-example
related how a construction project may relate to others in terms of basic utility connections, access,
shade, height etc but once the connections are planned they remain relatively static. The ITSVC
participants highlighted how they have to run IT project to replace a running service with ones still
being written by a vendor, interacting with several other services that are also changing. Detailed
planning in these circumstances seemed to be a significant challenge.
Changing goals
An example of changing goals was given by Film2 who reported that “film making is such a
fickle business, because it’s partly determined by the whim of the broadcasters and what they might
have determined they need for a particular year.” Film3 lamented significant changes in government
policy that affected investment. DefSvc1 summarized the impact of competition on goals by saying
“the enemy is constantly trying to figure out what your intent is and seeking to undermine it.” ITSVC3
reported how “in volatile environments such as the current global economic crisis, business strategies
often change quickly in order to meet the market conditions at the time.”
These results provide insight into how practitioners perceive the causes of change and
believe it is necessary for projects to respond and adapt to these causes and embrace rapid change
in some project environments (CSIRO, 2007; Dodgson, 2004; Gareth R. Jones, 2004; Perrino &
Tipping, 1991, p. 87; Rothwell & Zegveld, 1985; Sugden, 2001).
Strategies to Optimize Planning in Dynamic Environments
In the following section, results related to planning approaches for managing the dimension of
dynamism (Collyer & Warren, 2009) are presented. Approaches included: make static; emergent
planning; staged releases – scope reduction; competing experiments; alternate controls.
1. Make Static Approach
One approach to dealing with rapid change in the project environment is to attempt to make it
static and shield the project from environmental impacts(Collyer & Warren, 2009). Study participants
were asked to comment on and provide examples of this approach. Two participants provided support
for this strategy as being effective in their environment. Const1 described why they resisted change
vigorously and said “change leads to chaos. There should be order and discipline.” Similarly, Aid1
indicated this approach, although suboptimal, was entrenched in the organization, as “the large
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bureaucratic structure tends to view enacting process as the way to mitigate risk on projects as
opposed to relying on people to mitigate risk (i.e. recruitment of expert managers).”
All other participants did not support the ‘make static’ approach and indicated a preference for
strategies that actively embraced changes more rapidly in the project in response to changes in the
project environment. These participants generally argued the ‘make static approach’ would be counter
productive, and that embracing change was necessary for the survival of the organization and for the
success of the project. Participants argued some forces could not be contained by the ‘make static’
approach. For example Defsvc1 illustrated the impact of competition in mitigating any efforts to
maintain a static environment. The participant described how despite high levels of planning, in the
battlefield environment “plans only survive the first shot.” Pharm2, Const2 and ITsvc3 all argued that
the organization’s very existence was dependent on them adjusting projects to suit a dynamic market.
Film3 reported that production would not work if they did not make many changes due to the sheer
number of factors that can not be determined until filming commences. The venture capital participant
reported “we have to be responsive to the external environment at all times. This includes both the
technology environment and the investment environment.”
Both defense service participants related how their organizations had been forced over
decades to change strategy from resisting change to embracing it. They offered examples of how the
resistance to changing materials had been used in the past to maximize the reliability and
predictability on its endeavors. For example, the main battle rifle remained static for two decades
thereby helping achieve reliable storage, maintenance, distribution, and training processes. Since
then, the services have been forced to embrace higher rates of change in order to stay competitive,
and the average soldier now carries $20,000 worth of high technology into campaigns (including night
vision and laser targeting scopes). The loss of precise control, reliability and predictability that came
from embracing rapid change was considered a more fruitful strategy than the loss of the competitive
edge that came from resisting it. Adaptability is regarded to be the key capability in a dynamic
environment.
In summary, all but two of the participants reported they must embrace the rapid change for
survival in the industry. For these participants it was more effective to employ strategies that quickly
and efficiently embrace change in the project environment rather than resist or precisely controlling
the changes. This conclusion is consistent with previous discourse that changes can occur at rates
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that make traditional change management a disadvantage (Ashton, et al., 1990; Sachs & Meditz,
1979, p. 1081; Sugden, 2001; Williams, 2004).
2. Emergent Planning Approach
The strategy ‘emergent planning’ was strongly supported across the interviews with all but one
participant giving detailed examples of its use. Indeed, when considering all of the strategies
discussed, emergent planning attracted the greatest consensus across participants in the group who
claimed to be challenged by dynamism. For example, ITSVC1 reported: “I like to lay out the major
phases / deliverables / milestones at the outset, but only plan the detail for the phase I'm about to
start.” Ventcap1 related how “while an overall plan was in place to start with, the individual stages are
often revised.” Contrasting one of the construction participants with the defense participants regarding
safety may illuminate a key factor in deciding whether to embrace or resist. For each one the
embrace-change strategy carried very high risks, but for the defense case the risks of resisting
change were even higher. The defense participants reported that embracing and adapting to change
on a battlefield reduced overall risk. They therefore employed rapid adaptation principles such as
delegated control, and management by objective. For the construction participants, embracing
change increased financial and physical security risk while providing little advantage of any kind. This
led them to adopt principles that resisted change, such as strict centralized control implemented
against detailed static plans. In the construction example, the planner described how they strongly
resisted change unless it was necessary to bring work back in line with the plan. The construction
planning engineer said: “If an order is wrong it’s better to follow that order to avoid chaos.” It may be
that the construction industry achieves its safety and financial imperatives adequately through strict
management of and resistance to change. Indeed, this may also be possible in an industry where
there are relatively slow rates of change in tools and techniques, offering little advantage to those who
embrace them in the course of a project. Where the benefits of embracing change do not outweigh
the benefits of making static the preference in some industries may be to maintain order and make
static in order to obtain other benefits such as financial predictability and safety.
In emergent planning time is of the essence. DefSvc1 paraphrased a WW2 General
Patton saying a reasonable plan executed quickly is better than a perfect plan hatched in a
prison camp.” The participant also referred to Prussian General Karl von Clausewitz, who said
"the greatest enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan" (Clausewitz, 1873) to illustrate
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how in a dynamic environment excessive expenditure attempting a flawless/riskless plan
overlooks the much larger risk of failing to capitalize on limited windows of opportunity.
Given the high levels of support for emergent planning in this study, a useful approach for
project management in these environments may include (a) planning detail should be proportional to
the accuracy of the information and (b) planning to gather the missing information more quickly than
the environment will change. A detailed up-front plan in a dynamic environment may mislead the
sponsor, while a high level framework plan (Turner & Cochrane, 1993) with detail completed in rolling
waves will be more realistic and easier to adapt and manipulate. In summary, emergent planning
seems to be the most fundamental approach for dynamic environments and this has implications for
predictability in terms of budgeting, resource planning and strategy.
The green power generation start-up participant revealed some of the challenges with
emergent planning when a participant said:
Earlier stages do inform later stages but in more of an informal, unplanned way Running a
pilot is fundamental to the business plan. It’s a proof of concept. The business plan is set up to
deal with this uncertainty. Some people would like to reduce overlap between stages and do
things more sequentially to reduce the variability in the planning. For instance its hard to finalize
the design of the power station without well outputs, which depend on the results of the
subsurface work. The solution we are trying to work with is to design scalability/adjustability in
subsequent stages (e.g. power generator) to allow them to adapt to the results of the early
stages as they become known [Start-up1].
Start-up1 went on to describe how they used this approach by defining the major deliverables
and then tackling one milestone after another using a rolling wave. ITSVC3 described how they use
this approach and how there was no alternative:
I have experienced this during a global rollout of a new DHCP and DNS infrastructure for a
major global investment bank. Essentially, it involved replacing a legacy non dynamic DHCP
global infrastructure with a new dynamic infrastructure. The impact of this was replacing
approximately 700,000 IP addresses globally. Prior to deployment a significant amount of
testing was completed and it was believed that a full understanding of the full impact on
equipment and applications was obtained. However during implementation it became clear that
there were many regional based applications and environments that were impacted differently.
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As a result the rollout was completed country by country and data was gathered after every
implementation in order to prepare for the next. It is not an ideal way to complete a project,
however in some environments it is not practical to complete in other ways. [ITSVC3]
Every participant was able to give an example of emergent planning techniques including prototypes,
pilots and experiments. For example Film3 described how the developers of “Who Wants To Be A
Millionaire”, is syndicated in 100 countries and was piloted seven times before being released. Even
Const1 even provided examples of how the results of the first tunnel construction project significantly
altered plans for subsequent tunnels.
The ITsvc2 approach of a framework plan followed by rolling wave is an example of the approach
advocated by Turner and Cochrane (1993). Similarly, Boehm and Seewaldt (1984) compared the
effectiveness of specifying and prototyping and found that prototyping was nearly twice as efficient
although less robust. A conceptual framework for emergent planning in a dynamic environment was
formulated:
o Start with a high level framework plan
o Gather details for components that are likely to remain static and independent of dynamic
components.
o Start resolving details for dynamic items early with late design freeze, using:
Recursive design cycles, for example film scripts.
Tests or experiments
Prototypes, if affordable, for example story boards.
Pilot of prototype, to gather data from real users
A synthesis of these approaches is contained in Table 3. A military metaphor proposed by one of
the participants is used to help illustrate (Carpenter, 2008).
3. Staged Releases Approach – Scope Reduction
Pharm2 reported how they initially brought drugs to market with only their ‘lead indicators’
developed, and later developed the drug to its full potential. Start-up1 reported how they were initially
developing their hydrogen storage technology only for the industrial market, with a view to expanding
applications if that was proven. Const1, ITSvc1, Start-up1, and Start-up2 also gave good examples of
this approach. Start-up2 tested its new power generation process on a very small scale initially to
provide power for a small town, before exploring the potential to power an entire state. An anecdotal
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example provided by Pharm1 was how Rituximab, (developed by Biogen Idec and Genentech) was
initially developed to treat one type of cancer patient group and when that proved successful it was
expanded to treat others and later arthritis.
In dynamic environments projects can be challenged by short material lifecycles, changing
goals. Not only are larger projects more likely to fail (Jones, 2003; Standish-Group, 1994) but the
longer a project takes the more likely the end result will not match a changing environment (goals)
and changing materials (inputs). In dynamic environments this can be mitigated by reducing project
delivery. It is proposed that it be achieved in the following way:
a) A minimal scope Stage One is delivered to obtain real world feedback as quickly as
possible. The objective is to minimize effort on unsuitable approaches and to reduce the
amount of time the environment has to diverge from the plan. Advantage may also be
gained from using a project delivery timeframe that is compatible with component and
product lifecycles. In dynamic environments this can be achieved by scope reduction, fast
tracking, staging etc.
b) Real world feedback is obtained on the performance of the product. This is particularly
useful when the tools and techniques might be poorly understood at the start of the
project (Collyer & Warren, 2009). For example a budding author might be advised to try
their hand at magazine articles before investing years writing a novel, only to find their
style needed major improvement.
c) Subsequent stages are customized to better suit the actual environment at the time the
each stage is delivered, adapting to the likely changes along the way (Collyer & Warren,
2009). To use a military analogy “aim fire aim” not “aim fire.”
4. Competing Experiments Approach
The participants reported examples of this approach in use. Film2 reported:
I’ve got at least five projects out and about in the market place, with different producers and
different people, at different stages of consideration and its exactly that multi layered approach
that’s enabled me to survive. On average, for instance, a documentary maker estimated that
one in twenty experiments turn out, and I would say, from my own experience, that that figure is
accurate..in the film business it is an essential survival mechanism as the industry is both
fickle and intensely competitive.
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Film3 reported “We have got at the moment about 21 film scripts in development, and we are
aiming to make two or three a year.” The venture capitalist, VentCap1, reported how they initiate
multiple endeavors accepting higher risk in the early stages, expecting that some will be “killed off”,
and their resources redirected. Space1 reported that parallel experiments were “fairly common” and
believed that “cancellations are good and healthy” because it was better to cancel during concept
phase when projects are competing against other projects.
Const2 related how during the construction of an airport runway they actually built several
different experimental designs to see which would work best. As a result they won the bid and saved
9 months on the schedule.” The Pharm1 participant reported how scientific process taught them how
unsuccessful experiments can teach as much as successful ones.” Conversely Const1 reported they
were not using experiments for reasons of cost. Start-up2 said they were collecting data through
staging independent self sustaining pilots. Each version of the pilot justified itself based on revenue
generated by that pilot.
To give some examples from outside the participant group:
When IBM discovered that it was falling behind in the microcomputer market it launched secret
research teams who competed against each other” (Lambert, 2009). The most successful
approach was taken to fruition and changed the computer industry forever.
When NASA was developing the decent engine for the lunar module on the Apollo program it
was unsure of the design of the lunar module itself, and so it initiated two competing
endeavors for the motor. After some years it decided on the one that proved most appropriate
for the final module design (Pich, Loch, & De Meyer, 2002).
Sobek (Sobek II, Ward, & Liker, 1999, p. 75) related how car manufacturers develop a number
of prototypes in parallel, choosing the ones that give the best market reaction.
Film directors shoot multiple endings choosing the one that receives the best reaction from the
test audience.
While making the movie Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, director George Lucas
discovered that one of the robot characters was malfunctioning. To mitigate the high
production costs of a delay he commissioned competing teams on the other side of the world
to develop a more reliable design and fly in for a decision before recommencing shooting only
a few days later (Lucas, 1999).
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
While there may be an additional cost to duplicate effort in parallel experiments, the results of this
study indicate that the approach offers a number of advantages in environments with significant
unknowns and variability:
Potential quality improvements: Where the correct approach is unclear, it can be used to
discover the approach most likely to achieve the project’s objectives.
Potential time savings: In a dynamic environment it is important to deliver value relevant to the
environment before it significantly changes, so by testing approaches in parallel the project
may be more likely to come up with something that delivers relevant value before too much
change or expenditure occurs. It also allows direct comparison between mutually exclusive
options.
Potential cost savings: In a dynamic environment parallel experiments may help identify the
most effective approach before too much money is committed. The other advantage may be
in resource management, as a means to maximize resource usage by keeping the pipeline
full. For instance as Film2 advised “if you have two or three things on, and one is pushed
back to next year, you take another project and work out what you can do to accelerate it to
this year.”
In a dynamic environment, parallel experiments allows direct comparison of alternative
approaches. Each approach may be adequate for the task, but parallel experiments allow the most
advantageous one to be identified quickly and dead- ends removed before too much effort is
expended. It can take courage to cancel endeavors before they are complete but this does allow
resources to be redirected in a way that maximizes overall productivity. This would suggest an
organization with a reasonable project cancellation rate may be healthier than one with no
cancellations, or at least claims to have none. Ventcap1 gives an extreme example of this saying
“venture capital comes with an understanding that there will be an acceptable failure and attrition rate;
the flipside being that the less common successes are usually higher reward.” This may therefore
require a redefinition of what constitutes a project failure. If a project is cancelled when it becomes
irrevocably incompatible with a changed environment, as will often happen, it should be considered a
success. Additionally when a project investigates the potential of a first-of-breed concept and rules it
out, that also should be considered a success. The guiding rule would be that the anticipated benefits
from the successes should outweigh the efforts required to test and select. This is essentially the
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
same principle applied to organizations that expend effort on bids for work. Experimentation is not a
dirty word, but rather it’s the denial of experimentation or mismanagement of it that causes problems
in increasingly dynamic environments.
5. Alternate Controls Approach
Two examples of control approaches used in project management are input control which
seeks to regulate resources made available to the project, and output control which regulates project
deliverables. An example of input control is provided by one of the start-ups which was having trouble
controlling the technology development process and decided to recruit from around the world the best
subject matter expert they could find. It was difficult however as it was relatively new territory with an
almost non existent pool of people to recruit from. DefSvc2 reported how they “pre-empted the battle
with lots of research and training”, another example of leaning more on input control to make up for
the impracticalities of process control in dynamic environments.
Some practical examples of output control were identified by four participants. Const1 related
how project staff were rewarded with a significant bonus when the project was ahead of schedule.
Start-up1 reported that staff performance measurement was a big challenge since they could not
check off steps they need to complete as they were working out what the steps were as they went
along. They decided instead to measure performance by milestone achievement as opposed to
checklist/plan/task achievement. This gave their experts the freedom to be creative and to optimize
application of their expertise within those goals. Start-up1 described how they motivate staff with “an
employee option plan, where everyone in the company is a participant where they get granted options
linked to a future liquidity event.” They hoped this provided motivation for staff to apply themselves in
the way they see best fits this goal as they are subject matter experts beyond what our managers can
be.” Pharm1 reported that it was difficult to use incentives in the drug development world because the
process requires a large number of people over a number of years, and parts of the process were
quite formal and structured due to regulation. Pharm2 related how they used teamed output and
boundary control to great effect: ‘if you are delivering it did not matter how you did it, as long as you
adhered to regulatory framework from the government.”
DefSvc2 reported how they took advantage of one of the most powerful forms of output
control, that of survival, to motivate soldiers to come up with the right tactics. They reported that in
training there was a greater emphasis on on-the-spot problem solving, in order to deal with
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
unpredictability’s on campaigns, rather than just doing what you are told. In fact they “promote belief
in gut feeling and intuition, as long as they understand at a high level what the commander wants to
do, then they get about their task.” So they provide clear success indicators to measure goal
achievement:
“in the orders they specifically say what constitutes success, for example, at the end of this
operation I will have destroyed 30% of the armored force, so everyone is clear whether its been
successful or not, and work out alternate methods to achieve that.” Interestingly Pharm2 they
believed the appointment of a CEO who was an advocate of tight process control, eventually
caused their slide in stock prices.
A synthesized theory for control approaches in dynamic environments is therefore proposed as
follows:
For process control rely more on a framework plan with milestones and goals than fine detail. Add
detail for high risk or predictable components.
Place greater reliance on input control, interactive control, boundary control, and output control
(Vroom, 1964).
Implications of the Results for Developing Theory on Project Dynamism
Some project management practitioners focus on embracing change as rapidly as possible. It
is proposed that a project manager’s willingness to embrace change is proportional to the
advantage/risk trade off of doing so. This trade-off may for example be proportional to the maturity
of the technologies used. This may be why construction gains relatively smaller advantages from
change, compared to the information technology sector which gains large advantages for a lower
risk. For instance in construction the risk of public harm has driven a highly regulated environment
that may stifle innovation and change. The slower pace of the market and the smaller rewards for
innovation may be why the construction participants considered resisting change to be a lower
risk strategy than embracing it.
As traditionally stable industries increasingly embrace high technology they may benefit from
management approaches that more rapidly adapt to change. For instance in the defense forces
the risk of harm from change is probably even higher than in construction, but risk from not
adapting to change is considered to be even higher. In technology the risk of public harm is
small, and the advantage gained great. When deciding to what extent to embrace or resist
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
dynamism a practitioner can consider the advantages from leveraging the changes in terms of
functionality, competitive position, and future compatibility versus the disadvantageous impacts on
management predictability, safety, financial risk, flow on impacts and additional management
required. As outlined in table 2, ultimately it is the risk of embracing change that must be balanced
against the risk of resisting it, and as high technology spreads to traditionally static industries, the
risk of resisting change may appears to be increasing.
The results in this article are synthesized into a theoretical framework describing approaches
used by practitioners to manage the dimension of dynamism on their projects.
The framework outlined in Table 3 consists of the following principles:
Consider the project type and the relative strengths of each dimension before deciding the project
management approach. Project environment dynamism is just one of many dimensions and may
not be the most important.
Consider whether it is possible to achieve a greater net benefit from a make-static approach
wherever possible. Consider the Table 2 model.
Insert Table 2 about here
To manage the dimension of dynamism:
Commence with clearly stated objectives, expanded into a basic high level framework plan
made of milestones and phases.
Make the project delivery timeframe compatible with component product lifecycles. Identify
and plan for the minimum possible scope that can be delivered initially as an independent
product/service for phase one, thereby allowing real world feedback early enough to facilitate
adaption to environmental changes as per figure 2.
Insert Figure 2 about here
Treat the planning for static and dynamic components differently:
Gather details for static components in more detail expecting fewer design cycles.
Start resolving details for dynamic items early with a late design freeze, using:
- Recursive design cycles e.g. Film scripts
- Tests or experiments
- Prototypes, if affordable. E.g. story boards.
- Pilot of prototype, to gather data from end users
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
- Parallel experiments where the cost of delay may exceed the cost of effort
duplication.
For project control rely more on a framework plan with milestones and clear goals than fine
detailed planning. Add detail for high risk or static components.
Exchange some level of ‘predictability’ for greater adaptability. Maintain levels of control with
increased emphasis on input control, interactive control and output control (Simons, 1995).
Examples include greater emphasis on hiring of experienced practitioners, induction, training,
performance measurement (achievement of milestones) and reward and recognition.
Insert Table 3 about here
Limitations and Directions for Future Research
Only six of the participants were interviewed a second time. It is possible that if all participants had
been interviewed a second time further insights would have been gained. Some participants (n = 14)
only provided written information in email as opposed to face to face interviews. Using maximum
variation sampling the researchers deliberately sought the views of participants from diverse
industries. While meeting the aims of this study, the sampling means that results cannot be
generalized to all project managers within each of the participants' industries. These perceptions
might not be shared across all project managers and that further research is needed to test these
results in larger populations and in longitudinal studies.
Conclusion
Practitioners in dynamic environments may encounter the following causes of rapid change:
Materials; Resources; Tools; Techniques; Interdependence; Objectives; or a combination of these
causes. Results indicated that emergent planning, staged releases with the least possible in early
stages, competing experiments and alternate control approaches were preferred in these dynamic
environments. The make-static approach may be applied where safety and risk minimization is an
imperative or change adaption offers little advantage. Further analysis of the interview data will inform
theory making for strategies relating to culture, communication, and leadership style.
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
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Table 1. Participant profiles.
Abbreviation Industry
Organization
Description
Role Description Interview Type
Const1 Construction
Joint venture
building road
tunnels.
Planning engineer 1 face to face
1 via email
Const2 Construction
Green power station
construction
company.
Project office manager 1 face to face
Space1 Aerospace
Government space
agency.
Project management
leader
1 face to face
Aid1 International
Community
Development
Aid agency. Post conflict project and
program management
specialist
1 by email
Aid2 International
Community
Development
Aid agency. Project manager 1 by email
Aid3 International
Community
Development
Aid service provider. Program manager 2 by email
Pharm1 Pharmaceutical Drug development
company.
Program manager 2 by email
Pharm2 Pharmaceutical Drug development
company.
Project manager 1 face to face
DefSvc1 Defense Defense forces –
army.
Military commander 2 face to face
DefSvc2 Defense Defense forces –
army.
Military commander 1 face to face
DefSvc3 Defense Defense supplier. Program manager 1 via Telephone
Film1 Film Production Documentary
production
Producer 1 face to face
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
company.
Film2 Film Production Documentary
production
company.
Director 1 face to face
Film3 Film Production Feature film
production
company.
Director/producer 1 face to face
Start-up1 Startup in
Science/Technology
Start-up developing
new power storage
technologies.
Project manager 1 face to face
Start-up2 Startup in
Construction
Start-up developing
new power
generation
technologies.
Project manager 1 face to face
VentCap1 Venture Capital Venture capital
provider.
Portfolio manager 1 via email
Research1 Research Government
research
organization.
Program manager 1 via email
Research2 Research University Research fellow 1 via email
1 face to face
ITSvc1 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
Project manager 1 via email
ITSvc2 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
Software development
project manager
2 via email
ITSvc3 Information
Technology
Data-centre
design/construction
company.
Project manager 1 via email
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
ITSvc4 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
IT manager 1 face to face
ITScvc5 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
IT manager 1 face to face
ITSvc6 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
IT manager 1 face to face
ITSvc7 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
IT manager 1 face to face
ITSvc8 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
IT manager 1 face to face
ITSvc9 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
IT manager 1 face to face
ITSvc10 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
IT manager 1 face to face
ITSvc11 Information
Technology
Information
technology service
provider.
IT manager 1 face to face
ITSvc12 Information
Technology
Software vendor. Program manager 1 face to face
Participants n=31; Interviews n=37; Face to Face n=22; Via Email n=14; Via Telephone n=1; Second
Interviews n=6
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Figure 1. Competing experiments (Collyer & Warren, 2009).
Initiative 1
Initiative 2
Initiative 4
Initiative 3
Initiative 5
X
X
X
More testing/
Planning
More testing/
Planning
Completion
X
Redirect Resources into
more promising initiatives
Initiative 6
Re-use resources
for a new initiative
Identify the best approach
using low cost probes with
clear limits (gates) and
deliverables.
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Table 2. Embrace or resist dynamism - decision matrix.
Impact of Embracing Change
Impact of Resisting Change Negative Positive
Negative
High Intensity Balanced
Approach
(Defense, Aerospace)
Embrace change using emergent
approaches
(High Technology)
Positive Resist change
(Construction)
Low Intensity Balanced Approach
(Low technology)
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Table 3. Management in static and dynamic environments – Planning Styles
S
TATIC
E
NVIRONMENTS
Stability is the Norm
D
YNAMIC
E
NVIRONMENTS
Rapid Change is the Norm
The world is largely predictable.
Targets are stationary
Concrete/Steel/Glass: Same for decades.
The world is difficult to predict.
Targets are moving.
High Technology: Enhances weekly
Change brings more harm than good.
Allowing change is mostly damaging.
Change brings more good than harm.
Resisting change is mostly damaging.
Work is directable like a bullet. Think
factory production line.
Work is guidable like a missile. Think
cars in traffic guided by drivers, rules
and signs.
Business cases stay valid. Business cases change constantly
Strategic input required at start Strategic input required throughout
G
OAL
A
CHIEVEMENT
T
ARGETING SYSTEM COMPATIBLE WITH STABILITY OF TARGET
Aimed bullet:
Aim-aim-fire
Detailed plan hits a stationery target
Initial plan focuses on maximum accuracy
An accurate plan saves repetition
Goal: Time/cost/quality
Guided Missile:
Aim-fire-aim
Rapid feedback hits a moving target.
Initial plan focus on expedient adequacy
An adjustable plan achieves expedience
Goal: Optimized business benefit.
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
C
ONTROL
C
ONTROL APPROACHES COMPATIBLE WITH PREDICTABILITY OF ENVIRONMENT
Control with detailed plans, processes and
checklists.
Guide with a framework plan,
boundaries, inputs, goals, discussions.
Higher Emphasis on Control to achieve
goals (reduce Change)
Higher Emphasis on Adaption to
achieve goals (relinquish some control)
D
URATION
P
ROJECT DURATION COMPATIBLE WITH COMPONENT PRODUCT LIFECYCLES
Gain economies of scale with size. Achieve relevance with quick iterative
releases
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Figure 2. Experiments, staged release and emergent planning.
Keep stages small to minimise loosing
touch with the environment
Option1
Option2
Option3
Build Stage1
minimum scope
Draft stage2+
options
Build
Stage3 
Build Stage2 Draft stage3+
options
Real
World
Test
Pre-publish draft. Published paper available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.20199/full
Figure 3. Iterative approach in a dynamic environment.
Gate: Is this right? What next?
Stage gates allow rapid
optimisation. Like a car
steering wheel.
Approach
es for management of
dynamism
Guide with goals and
framework plans
Gather regular feedback
Use multiple cycles.
Adjust quickly and
incrementally
Plan
Build
Test & gather feedback
Cyclic approach
Compare options on paper
Pilot options with real feedback
Build with minimum functionality initially
Add functionality incrementally
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... Therefore, collaboration and corporate knowledge transfer among these stakeholders can have significant effects on the ramp-up performance and rampup targets. Several solutions based on the knowledge management concept such as Agile knowledge transfer framework [24], Multi-disciplinary Knowledge base [25] and dynamic management techniques like rolling wave planning [26] can be proposed in order to enhance the effectiveness of a service ramp-up process. Quirchmayr et al. [24] described an agile process to transfer knowledge in the context of software development. ...
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Ramp-up often requires the implementation of a new production system and some adaptations for the entire supply chain. It is also a major issue for service companies in both secondary and tertiary sectors. Although some of these companies are not confronted with the management of a new production system, they also have to face many difficulties during ramp-up. These difficulties are amplified by the growing uncertainties on the markets and the volatility of the customer demand. The current paper sheds light on common and diverging aspects of product and service ramp-ups as well as on solution approaches for service ramp-up management. As such, current research provides foundation for future research dealing specifically with service ramp-up.
... Examples for conventional management approaches include the 'Integrated Product Development' (Andreasen and Hein, 2000), the 'Stage-Gate-Model' (Cooper, 1990), the 'V-model ' (VDI2206, 2006 as well as the VDI 2221 (VDI2221, 2019). These approaches are said to be most useful when market conditions, as well as requirements, are stable and predictable Rigby et al., 2016) and when the benefits of allowing changes do not compensate the benefits of financial predictability and safety (Collyer et al., 2010). ...
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As the complexity of products and their development processes increases, a trend emerged where companies try to manage the complexity through implementing agile practices on all or on some levels of the development process. It is not yet clear if an agile approach is the solution or under which circumstances it can be most effective in the development of physical products. This paper aims to compile the information from existing empirical and meta-studies to give an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of conventional, agile and hybrid paradigms.
... Unlike the TPM, which try to predict and minimize change and uncertainty, APM is seeking to adapt to uncertainty and accommodate changes even in later phases of a project (Cooke-Davies, 2002). APM relies heavily on the collaboration and communication between the project team and the customer or customer representative to create the right product in a lean fashion (Aguanno, 2004; Collyer et al., 2010;Sliger, 2011). APM is considered most effective in projects with a high level of uncertainty, such as new design, problem-solving and not-done-before work. ...
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Purpose The aim of the study is to explore how the different combinations of traditional and agile project management (APM) enhance project success under different levels of teamwork quality. Design/methodology/approach The study used system approach, using cluster analysis, to examine the relationships between project success and traditional project management (TPM) and APM under different levels of teamwork quality. A cluster analysis approach provides a method to examine how the entire range of variables combine to improve project success. Findings The results of the study revealed three profiles of project managers’ differences in teamwork quality and type of project management used: pure agile, TPM leaning hybrid and APM (APM) leaning hybrid. The results found evidence that TPM leaning hybrid received the highest score in project success. Practical implications Organizations should develop teamwork skills to learn to use both TPM and APM so that specific risks presented by one approach use are compensated by the use of other. Finally, organizations should have good TPM practices before planning to implement agile practices. Originality/value The findings of this study suggest that TPM with high teamwork quality supported by APM can enhance project success. APM supported by TPM contributes to improved project success.
... Traditional process models have their emphasise on creating and following a detailed initial project plan (Špundak, 2014). This planning phase can take large quantities of time to develop a detailed plan, of which components or the whole plan is ultimately discarded when too many changes become necessary (Collyer et al., 2010;Olsson, 2006). Agile project management, on the other hand, has proven itself a practical way to manage time-sensitive projects due to its iterative approach and more intense involvement of the customers in the development process (Salameh, 2014). ...
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The so-called agile approach is increasingly popular in the world of project management as a response to more dynamic and competitive environments. This study follows the question: What are the decisive criteria that result in the use of agile process models in practice? Therefore, a broad range of decision criteria is investigated, representing different reasons for firms to decide in favour or against the usage of agile process models, namely: Time-saving, increased efficiency, availability of qualified personnel, uniform terminology, project comparability and functions as a knowledge base. Most existing research on agile project management is of qualitative nature; this study uses a quantitative approach to assessing 51 firms and nine different industries within the DACH region. The collected data was analysed in a binary logistic regression model. Results reveal that time-saving positively predicts the use of agile process models, while high ratings in function as a knowledge base and project comparability predict the absence of agile process models. Therefore, practitioners are suggested to educate project and portfolio managers in the creation of hybrid environments and integration of agile process models in traditional project portfolios.
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Sri Lankan contractors are facing competition from foreign construction companies. Due to the very liberal policies of the government, many foreign contractors find ways to enter this very lucrative market. However, in competitive bidding, local construction companies find it very difficult to control some cost and time parameters due to macro-economic factors. VUCA factors are considered in this paper. Hence, to prevent the cost and time overruns, it is needed to enhance the efficiency of internal practices with agile techniques to counter the effects of the VUCA world. Although, many applications are used in the construction industry to improve performance, an integrated web-based project management interface plays a significant role in the construction industry. The main aim of the research paper is to study agile practices (mainly scrum) with developed integrated web-based interfaces could help project managers of local construction companies to optimize the results of triple constraints and decision-making in the local contractor companies. The primary outcome of the research is identifying relationships of cash flows and inter-company operational factors with project performances and, through those factors, enhancing project performances in Sri Lankan construction industry. In this case study, the real-time project performances of a leading construction company in Sri Lanka are studied.KeywordsVUCA—volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguityScrum frameworkWeb-based integrated project managementAgile techniquesTeam collaboration
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The modern construction industry in Sri Lanka focuses on introducing environment friendly and long durable sustainable materials in constructions. Modern trend is producing different types of earth soil-based building blocks and innovating modified daub mixture-based structures. However, surface cracking and damage due to flood are the major issues that are faced in some soil-based structures. The use of cellulose fiber as a reinforcement material has many advantages such as providing adequate stiffness, strength, and bonding capacity to cement-based matrices for substantial enhancement of their flexural strength. The aim of present study was to find out the possibility of using Alkaline Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP)-pretreated cornhusk fibers as a reinforcement material to prepare soil and cement-based composite mixture for development of roofing sheets, ceiling sheets, and wall panels. The AHP pretreatment is an effective pretreatment that could be performed at room temperature and under atmospheric pressure for extracting cellulose from agro plant residue like cornhusks. Cornhusks is comparatively one of freely available agro plant residues in Sri Lanka and with required chemical composition, from which cellulose could be extracted easily from AHP pretreatment. The selected earth soil was laterite and has dark reddish color. The composite mixture was prepared by mixing of earth soil, cement, and AHP-pretreated cornhusks fibers in the weight ratios of 1:1:0.025 of, respectively, with a certain amount of water. Roofing sheets, ceiling sheets, and wall panels were prepared using the said composite mixture and were analyzed for morphological characteristics, water absorbency, flexural load, and durability. The developed composite samples have reddish to brownish color. The water absorbency, flexural load, and durability were of satisfactory level. These can be used in construction of low cost attractive and environment friendly architectural constructions especially in areas where tourists frequent in Sri Lanka.
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