This article has the objective of developing an effective project diagnostic model to assess an organisation’s preparedness for undertaking projects. Executive management must address an important question: How prepared is my organisation for undertaking and managing its projects? In other words, there is a need to examine the extent that fundamental principles related to undertaking successful projects are entrenched in the organisation’s culture so that:
• Undertaken projects produce the desired outputs on time, within budget and specifications (project management success);
• The organisation has the ability to consistently execute projects that have produced the desired outputs (repeatable project management success);
• Undertaken projects produce the desired outcomes (project success);
• The outcomes yield the intended impact on the business strategy (corporate success).
Camilleri (2011) developed a framework for undertaking successful projects. As illustrated by Figure 1, this project success framework consists of three aspects, namely the project hygiene support factors; project informational support factors; and behavioural and managerial support factors.
Figure 1: Project Success Framework
Source: Camilleri Emanuel (2011). Project Success: Critical Factors and Behaviours. Gower UK (www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9780566092282)
The project hygiene support factors are made up of five dimensions. The first hygiene factor is project strategic fit that aims for corporate success. It is essential that a project must support the strategic direction of the organisation otherwise the use of the organisation’s resources are not being optimised. The other four hygiene factors have the goal of achieving project management success (focus on outputs). These hygiene factors may be considered as fundamental for good project management practice. The informational support factors together with a standard project management methodology for the particular industry, aim for repeatable project management success. Finally, we have the Behavioural and Managerial Support Factors that are viewed as influencing project success (focus on outcomes). For instance, internal and external communications would focus on the behavioural implications, such as, fostering consensus amongst the various stakeholders to achieve their respective requirements and mitigate their concerns.
The assessment of an organisation’s preparedness for undertaking and managing projects requires the development of a diagnostic questionnaire. This questionnaire is a balanced set of measures to identify the strengths and weaknesses for each of the four project success levels identified above, thus allowing one to appraise the organisation’s preparedness for undertaking and managing projects. Camilleri (2011, p287-290) provides a full version of the diagnostic questionnaire, including how it may be administered and analysed. The respondents (individually or through focus group discussions) will need to answer each question by selecting a choice, ranging from strongly disagrees to strongly agree.
All the responses for each question are added and divided by the number of respondents to obtain an average score for each particular question. An overall average score for a particular project success level is calculated in a similar manner. The results are presented in the form of a chart (overall assessment) and a number of histograms (representing each project success level). Figure 2 provides a specimen chart showing an overall assessment of a hypothetical organisation’s preparedness for undertaking and managing projects. In the example shown, the overall assessment indicates that while projects undertaken by the hypothetical organisation are generally aligned with the organisation’s strategy there appears to be a serious weakness regarding the ability to consistently achieve repeatable project management success. Furthermore, the success levels related to project success (project outcomes) and project management success (project outputs) also needed substantial improvements.
Figure 2: Diagnostic Questionnaire – Overall Assessment
Figure 3 provides a specimen histogram (including sample questions) related to the project management success level for the hypothetical organisation. The horizontal axis reflects the various questions related to a number of diagnostics aspects. The diagnosis (for the sample questions) shows that the hypothetical organisation has a serious lack of project control practices related to the time and cost elements. Although quality does not appear to be an issue, it is likely that quality is being attained through higher expenditure and an associated delay in delivery time (possible rework). The sample diagnosis also reveals that the hypothetical organisation needs to improve its processes by having good estimating practices; and conducting regular project cost and schedule activity tracking.
Figure 3: Diagnosis – Project Management Success
The careful application of the diagnostic questionnaire will provide a simple but affective assessment method for determining how prepared the organisation is for undertaking and managing projects. The diagnostic questionnaire will reveal the strengths and weakness within each particular project success level (project management success; repeatable project management success; project success; and corporate success) so that appropriate action may be taken to maintain the strengths and transform the identified weaknesses into sustainable strengths.
Camilleri E. (2011). Project Success: Critical Factors and Behaviours. Gower UK (www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9780566092282).