No project exists in a vacuum: organizational effects in enterprise information system development
Sapp, Thomas A.
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Information technology (IT) projects have a well-documented potential for complexity, difficulty, and failure. Typical explanations focus on project-related issues, but in some cases success or failure depends less on the project and more on the dynamic interaction of organizational factors at the portfolio level. This thesis focuses on the interplay of explicit and implicit organizational factors in complex organizations, and their effect on the outcome of IT projects. Through implicit organizational factors, a poorly executed, unhealthy project may infect healthy projects, similar to the spread of a contagion. This thesis utilizes a study of the United States Coast Guard WatchKeeper and Mission and Asset Scheduling Interface systems’ development as an example of the contagion effect. Analysis revealed three classes of implicit organizational factors that impacted project outcomes: capacity, control, and funding priorities. From an organizational perspective, implicit factors were found to play a much more significant role in affecting the outcome of projects than explicit factors. This is important because managers at various levels of hierarchy tend to focus only on explicit factors, often ignoring implicit factors. Several recommendations for improving project and portfolio management are presented based on this finding.
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