The Critical Success Factors Of Scope Management Information Technology Essay

Until today, the ICT project success has yet to demonstrate an excellent track record. Findings from a research done by Standish Group from 1994 until 2009 revealed that the percentage for challenge and failure IT projects was still high as compared to that of a successful project [4]. There are many reasons which contribute to these failure. One of the main reasons is the poor PSM ([3],[5]). According to many researchers, PSM is a critical area which needs to be given attention in ensuring the success of a project ([6]-[11]).

Based on the literature review, it has been found that none of the research done applies the concept of CSF in ICT PSM in order to upgrade the ICT project success. Therefore, this research was conducted with the intention to identify the CSFs in PSM, which could contribute to the ICT project success, in terms of stakeholders’ satisfaction, time estimation accuracy and cost estimation accuracy. It was expected that this study would give researchers some new insights on PSM CSFs for ICT project success.

This paper consists of four sections, which are background, research methods, results and discussion, and conclusions.

II. BACKGROUND

This section explains briefly two main concepts in this research, which are ICT Project Scope Management and CSF. Then, a brief explanation will be given on the research factors which are obtained from the combination between failure factors and success factors in PSM. These factors have the potential to contribute to the ICT project success.

ICT Project scope management

In this research context, ICT Project Scope Management is defined as “the processes required to ensure that the ICT project includes all the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully” [12]. Meanwhile, ICT is defined as “any product that will store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit, or receive electronically in a digital form, which comprises of technology, communication and application” [13].

PSM is one of the nine project management fields of knowledge [12]. It is very crucial in ensuring the project success as compared to the other eight fields of knowledge [6]. PSM includes the process of scope planning, requirements collection, scope definition, WBS creation, scope verification and scope control. All these processes are needed to ensure that only the required work will be carried out. Any unnecessary works is a waste and can increase the risks in project management [15]. Incomplete and vague project scope could cause requirement creep and scope creep [5] which could cause the project to be incomplete on time and at a predetermined cost. It could also cause the delivery produced (product, service or result) could not satisfy the stakeholders.

The Critical success factor approach

In 1979, Rockart introduced the CSF method and concluded that CSF is an effective and efficient method to assess data requirements [19]. This method has been studied until it becomes more stable ([20]-[21]) and it has been applied widely in various industry sectors and domains [22]. Bullen and Rockart defines CSF as “the limited number of areas in which satisfactory results will ensure successful competitive performance for the individual, department, or organization. CSFs are the few key areas where “things must go right” for the business to flourish and for the managers’ goal to be attained” [20]. According to them, each CSF set is created uniquely and differently based on the environment where this method is applied.

In IT/ICT project management field, CSF method is applied as an effort to upgrade the ICT project success such as to plan, develop and implement the software project ([23]-[24]) and data depository execution [25].

Success Factors in ICT Project Scope Management

Based on a thorough review done on academic and practitioner literatures, it has been found that there was no formal research that has been carried out to identify CSFs in ICT Project Scope Management. However, there were success and failure researches in ICT projects such as software projects, development and implementation projects of information system, web-based project and network installation project which involve project scope ([6],[23],[26]-[33]). From these researches, the factors which have the same criteria were combined according to three dimensions: Project, Process and People.

To determine the project success attributes which reflect the whole perception on an ICT project success, PMBOK guidelines were used which demonstrate the essential relationship between PSM and Project Time Management, and between PSM and Project Cost Management [12]. Based on the stakeholders’ role and responsibility in managing project scope, the stakeholders’ satisfaction as an ICT project success attribute was taken into account ([12],[14],[34]-[35]). Table 1 shows the summary of the attributes used in this research.

TABLE 1

SUCCESS ATTRIBUTES

Dimension

Attribute

Overall perceived level of success

Stakeholders’ satisfaction (Stakeholders are satisfied, accept and approve with the project scope planned, defined and implemented; All the deliverables produced by the project were accepted and approved by the stakeholders).

Time estimation accuracy (All the work that has to be carried out (project scope) for a project helps successfully in estimating the time needed to complete a project; Clear main deliverables (product, service, result) helps successfully in estimating the duration of time needed to complete a project.

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Cost estimation accuracy (All the work that has to be done for a project (based on the scope) helps successfully in estimating the cost needed to complete the project).

III. METHODOLOGY

This research was an exploratory survey which used quantitative method. The instrument used was a questionnaire and it was developed based on the combination of failure and success factors gained from the literature review. Reliability test, factor analysis and regression analysis have been conducted to determine the critical success factor using SPSS version 17.

Survey questionnaire

In this study, a survey questionnaire was employed as the method of data collection. A structured questionnaire was constructed to capture the respondents’ perception of the questions. The survey instrument consists of six sections. The first section was on respondent’s profile and demographic information. The second, third and fourth sections were on success factors related to project, process and people. The fifth section was on perception of ICT project success. The last section was for additional comments, where respondents were invited to give any feedback or thought related to the questions stated. To measure the importance of success factors and perception of ICT project success, a 5-point Likert scale ranging from “1”= strongly disagree to “5”=strongly agree was adopted to solicit the perceptions on the degree of importance for the identified success factors relative to the ICT project success.

An in-depth discussion about the questionnaire was done with five experts in ICT project management, who were two experts from the public sector, two experts from the private sector and one expert from academia. All five experts have experience of at least five years in ICT project scope management and more than ten years of experience in ICT project development. The purpose of this discussion was to obtain opinions, views, suggestions or comments about the survey instrument content validity and face validity. Feedback from the expert was used to refine the clarity of the questionnaire items by rephrasing the items as necessary.

The internal consistency reliability of the items in the questionnaire was tested by conducting a pilot study. The respondents for pilot test were ICT officers working in Malaysian public sector. A pilot survey was administered to five public sector agencies with the distribution of ten sets of questionnaires for each agency. 31 respondents returned their feedback after waiting period of 20 days. Cronbach’s alpha was used for the internal consistency reliability testing. The results of these tests shows that the values for the entire construct were greater than 0.8. Thus, it shows that the items in the questionnaire have a good degree of reliability [36]. This indicates that there were no problems with the internal consistency reliability.

Data collection method

The target population for this study was ICT professionals in Malaysian public sectors. One thousand questionnaires, delivered personally by hand, were administered from 1st March 2010 among Malaysian public sector ministries, departments and agencies located in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. For other locations, three hundred questionnaires were distributed using web-based survey method from 8th March 2010. The questionnaires used for both methods were the same. After six weeks of survey period, a total of 561 valid questionnaires, representing response rate of 43.15%, were received (531 were collected personally and 10 were collected through web-based interface).

Data analysis method

Factor analysis and stepwise multiple regression were used to analyze data from the survey questionnaire. Factor analysis was conducted in three stages [37]. The first stage was the assessment of the suitability of the data. The correlation among the factors was identified by examining the correlation matrix among items, Bartlett’s Test Sphericity and Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy (KMO MSA). The second stage was factor extraction. Common factor analysis and principal axis factoring technique were used to extract the factors. Kaiser’s criterion or eigen value rules were used to determine the number of factors to be retained. The third stage was factor rotation and interpretation. The orthogonal rotation approach with Varimax method and cut-off loading point 0.4 [38] were used to clarify the factor structure. Factor extraction and rotation will be repeated until there were no cross-loading factors or no factor loading value less than cut-off loading point. Items with factor cross loading or factor loading less than cut-off loading point were eliminated [38].

Stepwise regression solution procedure was used to determine the CSFs of PSM which contribute to the ICT project success. Through this procedure, only significant success factors were used in the model. The general multiple regression model is:

Y’ = A + B1X1 + B2X2 + … + BkXk

where Y’ is the dependent variable (DV), A is the Y intercept, the Xs represent the various independent variables (IVs) and Bs are the coefficients assigned to each of the IVs during regressions [39].

In this research, the IVs were the success factors of ICT project scope management and the DVs were the stakeholders’ satisfaction, time estimation accuracy and cost estimation accuracy.

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IV. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Factor analysis

The result of factor analysis as shown in Table 2 shows seven factors with 45 attributes which were included in the structure and explained 60.57% of the total variance. All the seven factors were translated according to the items included in the factors. The first factor was called “stakeholders’ commitment” which consists of 12 items. The second factor was called “Work Breakdown Structure” which consist of 11 items. The third factor was called “project objective and justification definition” which consists of 9 items. The forth factor was called “change control” which consists of 4 items. The fifth factor was called “project constraint definition” which consists of 3 items. The sixth factor was called “realistic project assumption” which consists of 3 items. The seventh factor was called “business knowledge” which consists of two items.

TABLE 2

FACTOR STRUCTURE FOR PRINCIPAL AXIS FACTORING EXTRACTION AND VARIMAX ROTATION ON PSM SUCCESS FACTORS ITEMS

Item

Factor 1: Stakeholder commitment

Percent of variance explained = 43.381, Cumulative percent of variance explained = 43.381

The project received strong top management support during the process of project scope management.

The project had a cooperative and supportive process owner during requirements elicitation.

The Steering Committee is committed to the meeting scheduled

Users are able to explain their needs or requirements to project team or project developer.

Project manager have the communication skills to communicate with all stakeholders involved in the project scope management.

Project Team meetings held regularly to manage the project scope processes.

‘Project Champion’ commitment, especially during a crisis in managing the project scope

Project team members fully responsible in managing the project scope.

Method of ‘brainstorming’ or ‘face to face’ is used to obtain user requirements.

Project manager fully responsible in managing the project scope.

Project team members have knowledge in ICT field that will be required for the development and implementation of the project.

Roles and responsibilities of project team is determined and clearly defined

Factor 2: Work breakdown structure

Percent of variance explained = 4.892, Cumulative percent of variance explained = 48.272

The infrastructure (hardware, networking, telecommunication) specification is compatible with the product (system) to be produced.

The software specification is compatible with the product (system) to be produced.

The system development methodology is suitable to the product (system) to be produced

The application specification is complete and clearly defined

The user requirements are realistic.

User requirements specific to the project objectives to be achieved.

Each user requirements meet business requirements embodied in the project.

User requirements can be implemented in accordance with the stipulated time period.

Human resources responsible for carrying out each of work activity is clearly mapped in the WBS hierarchy.

Distribution of activities in the WBS is well planned and precisely defined.

The WBS defined the project overall scope.

Factor 3: Project objective & justification definition

Percent of variance explained = 3.460, Cumulative percent of variance explained = 51.732

Specific and clear project objectives

Realistic project objectives

Achievable project objectives

Acceptable project objectives by main stakeholders

Measurable project objectives

Justification stated the importance or benefit of the project implementation.

Justification focuses on the organization goal to be achieved.

Clearly defined works that included in the project.

Justification stated the improvement of employees skill with the implementation of the project.

Factor 4: Change control

Percent of variance explained = 2.601, Cumulative percent of variance explained = 54.333

Coordinating Committee set the action to be taken for the change request.

Decisions and actions taken for the “change request” was agreed by all members of the Coordinating Committee.

Decision made by Coordinating Committee is well recorded

Coordinating Committee taking into account the interests, benefits and negative affects for each of the “change request”.

Factor 5: Project constraint definition

Percent of variance explained = 2.409, Cumulative percent of variance explained = 56.742

Clearly defined uncontrollable project constraints.

Clearly defined controllable project constraints.

Source(s) for each constraint (controllable or uncontrollable) are clearly described.

Factor 6: Realistic project assumption

Percent of variance explained = 2.187, Cumulative percent of variance explained = 58.929

Realistic project deliverables (product, service, results)

Realistic technical assumptions

Realistic assumptions of project management organization

Factor 7: Business knowledge

Percent of variance explained = 1.644, Cumulative percent of variance explained = 60.573

Project team members have knowledge in business processes related to the project.

Project manager have knowledge in business processes related to the project.

The seven factors were translated into seven main hypotheses. The hypotheses were numbered from 1 to 7. Since there were three success dimensions for each factor, the corresponding success dimensions were identified by the letters a, b and c. As a result, there were a total of 21 hypotheses, from 1a until 7c as stated above.

Hypotheses related to the Project dimension:

H1: The existence of well-defined project objective and justification is a PSM CSF that contributes to the success of ICT project in terms of (a)Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Time estimation accuracy, (c) Cost estimation accuracy.

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H2: Having realistic project assumptions is a PSM CSF that contributes to the success of ICT project in terms of (a)Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Time estimation accuracy, (c) Cost estimation accuracy.

H3: The existence of well-defined project constraints is a PSM CSF that contributes to the success of ICT project in terms of (a) Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Time estimation accuracy, (c) Cost estimation accuracy.

Hypotheses related to the Process dimension:

H4: The existence of complete WBS is a PSM CSF that contributes to the success of ICT project in terms of (a) Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Time estimation accuracy, (c) Cost estimation accuracy.

H5: The practice of correct change control procedure is a PSM CSF that contributes to the success of ICT project in terms of (a) Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Time estimation accuracy, (c) Cost estimation accuracy.

Hypotheses related to the People dimension:

H6: Having project team that is knowledgeable about the business process is a PSM CSF that contributes to the success of ICT project in terms of (a) Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Time estimation accuracy, (c) Cost estimation accuracy.

H7: The existence of strong stakeholder commitment is a PSM CSF that contributes to the success of ICT project in terms of (a) Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Time estimation accuracy, (c) Cost estimation accuracy.

Regression analysis

A stepwise multiple regression was conducted between the three ICT project success dimensions (stakeholder satisfaction, time estimation accuracy and cost estimation accuracy) as the dependent variables and seven underlying PSM success factors as independent variables.

TABLE 3

SUMMARY OF OUTCOME FROM STEPWISE MULTIPLE REGRESSION

ICT project success dimensions

R2

ANOVA

Selected variables

β value

Stakeholder satisfaction

0.614

F(3,527)=

144.3,

P<0.05

Strong stakeholder commitments

0.519

Complete Work breakdown structure

0.227

Well-defined project objective and justification

0.111

Time estimation accuracy

0.451

F(3,527)=

144.3,

p<0.05

Strong stakeholder commitments

0.346

Complete Work breakdown structure

0.318

Well-defined project objective and justification

0.100

Cost estimation accuracy

0.380

F(3,538)=

110.066,

p<0.05

Strong stakeholders’ commitment

0.390

Well-defined project constraints

0.225

Change control

0.104

Table 3 shows significantly three factors which were strong stakeholders’ commitment, complete WBS, and well-defined project objective and justification as the CSFs of PSM which contribute to 61.4% variant changes to ICT project success in terms of stakeholder satisfaction. The finding also reveals significantly that the three similar factors, were the CSFs of PSM which contribute to 45.1% variant changes to ICT project success in terms of time estimation accuracy. For the ICT project success in terms of cost estimation accuracy, the result demonstrates significantly that strong stakeholders’ commitment, change control and well-defined project constraint were the CSFs of PSM which contribute to 38% variant change to ICT project success in terms of cost estimation accuracy.

With the above observations, the results of the hypotheses testing can be finalized as follows: out of 21 research hypotheses, a total of 9 hypotheses were supported, while the remaining 12 hypotheses were rejected. Those hypotheses were rejected due to their low coefficient values and high probability level for their corresponding null hypotheses. It means that the presence of those factors did not make a significance difference to the value of ICT project success dimensions.

V. CONCLUSION

In carrying out this quantitative research, a questionnaire survey method was used to determine the CSFs of PSM which contribute to the ICT project success. ICT project success was investigated in terms of stakeholders’ satisfaction, time estimation accuracy and cost estimation accuracy. A total of 557 usable data were successfully collected from the respondents who were the public sector ICT professionals.

Seven success factors of PSM have been extracted through the factor analysis. The factors were strong stakeholders’ commitment, complete WBS, well-defined project objective and justification, change control, well-defined project constraints, realistic project assumption and good business knowledge. With the use of stepwise multiple regression analysis, it can be concluded that strong stakeholders’ commitment, complete WBS and well-defined project objective and justification were the PSM CSFs which contributed to the ICT project success in terms of stakeholders’ satisfaction and time estimation accuracy. Strong stakeholders’ commitment, change control and well-defined project constraint were the PSM CSFs which contributed to the ICT project success in terms of cost estimation accuracy. Strong stakeholders’ commitment factors were the main contribution to the three aspects of ICT project success. Realistic project assumption and project team business knowledge were failed to be proven as the critical success factor for any aspect of ICT project success.

All the critical success factors which have been discovered for each aspect of ICT project success are the main contribution from this research. These factors should be given attention by practitioners while managing ICT project scope so that the project scope that is being managed: 1) could produce deliveries (product, service and results) which successfully give satisfaction to the stakeholders, (2) successfully helps in making time estimation accurately, and (3) successfully helps in making cost estimation accurately.

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