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Project Management Fundamentals


Posted on Aug 2017



Research Objectives

 One of the biggest challenges that most of the companies operating in the United Emirates Arab (UAE) are inability to implement their technology related projects successfully, such as implementation of new information technology systems in their operations. To address this problem, the main objective of this research will be;

i)                     Determine the effectiveness of using waterfall project methodology in implementing information technology systems in UAE companies.

 On the other hand, to gain a deeper an understanding of how the technology project implementation problems can be addressed in the UAE companies, the research will aim to achieve the following specific objectives;

i)                    Determine what the concept of waterfall project management methodology entails.

ii)                   To find out the advantages that are associated with the use of waterfall project management methodology and how it can be beneficial during designing and implementation of information technology systems project in UAE companies.

Research Problem

 According to Dulaimi et al. (2010) implementation of most of the IT projects that involve public and private partnership end up failing in the UAE. The failure of these projects results in huge financial resources between lost by the institutions involved in their designing and implementation. The biggest challenge where most of the IT related projects fails in the majority of the organizations is poor planning and failure to follow certain critical steps during the designing, development as well as implementation of certain information systems for particular organizations. For example, failure to understand the organizational needs automatically result in the failure of any IT system developed to help deal with certain elements of a firm's operations. Therefore, most of the IT related projects in the UAE ends up ignoring critical courses of actions during the designing and implementation phases.

 The failure of any project is costly to an organization as there is a loss of human capital and financial resources in the long-term (Turner, 2015). This means that there is need of coming up with strategies that can be used in enhancing the success of project management, in IT related projects within the UAE companies. Some of the critical issues related to project management that can aid in addressing the current challenges are projected methodologies that have been designed to help ensure there is effective implementation of projects of the organization. Thus, this research will try to address the current problem facing IT projects in the UAE by making use of the waterfall project methodology.

Research Methods

 Qualitative research methods were used in completing this research. The qualitative research methodology involved the participants describing the experiences they have concerning IT project implementation and the factors that contribute to the failure of these types of projects within the UAE economy. The sources of data used in this study were mainly primary and secondary data (Taylor, Bogdan, and DeVault, 2015). The primary data helped in collection of information related to challenges that companies in the UAE face when it comes to the implementation of the IT related project. The secondary data involved review of the existing literature on the use of waterfall as project management methodology; especially its use in IT related projects. The research design used in this research was descriptive design, whereby, the participants explained their respective experiences as far as implementation of IT projects in their respective organizations was concerned.

 The target population of the study was senior managers in the UAE companies, especially those in the banking sector. The banking sector makes use of information technology in a great way in the UAE, hence providing a good source of information as to why IT project fails. A sample size of ten participants was selected. The sampling technique employed in the research was purposive sampling approach. Due to limitation of the time resource available, the data collection approach employed was telephone interviews. The selected participants were interviewed using telephone calls which took around five to ten minutes to complete. The data collected was analyzed using theme coding approach. In this approach, the data was categorized regarding themes, such as challenges associated with implementation and benefits of using the waterfall methodology (Taylor, Bogdan, and DeVault, 2015).

Enablers and Inhibitors of Best Implementation of IT Projects

            There are various factors that facilitate the implementation of IT related projects within the banking sector in the UAE or generally in any given organization. One of the key factors that enable IT related projects to succeed is involvement of the key stakeholders in the planning as well as implementation process (Ferreira and Kuniyoshi, 2015). The stakeholder involvement is concerned with need analysis and communicating with them on the reasons why the organization needs to implement a particular project. Also, stakeholder involvement is concerned with training the employees on how to use the introduced systems in an organization. On the contrary, failure to engage the major stakeholders in the project implementation and planning process is a major inhibitor to the success of the IT related projects in the UAE (Dulaimi et al. (2010). Failure to engage stakeholders to result in the IT systems being implemented that are not in line with the needs of the organization, lack of support from the stakeholders or the employees lacking skills needed to work in an environment where there is introduction of new technology.

 Additionally, proper planning and designing are critical to the success of any IT related project. Baker, Murphy, and Fisher (2008) note that proper planning and designing ensures that an organization provides all the resources needed to complete the implementation of the project at hand. For example, the appropriate designing takes into consideration of all the organization needs and structure, thereby, making the implementation of an IT system a success. However, poor planning and designing a major hindrance to the success of the IT related projects. Poor planning results in the project team lacking adequate resources and designing contribute to the needs and organization structure not being considered leading to development and implementation of a poor IT system that is not in line with the needs of a firm.

            Furthermore, adequate scheduling is a major factor that contributes to the success of any project. The scheduling plays a major role in ensuring that the project will be completed on time (Turner, 2014). The scheduling process ensures that the project team and employees understand when certain tasks are supposed to be completed. For example, in the case of IT projects, scheduling helps in ensuring that the teams understand when the designing will be completed and testing. Nonetheless, in the UAE lack of proper scheduling is a major inhibitor of the completion of the IT projects on time leading to high costs being incurred than initially planned. On the other hand, adequate budgeting and cost estimation are instrumental when it comes to helping an organization to successfully implements a project (Turner, 2014). In any given project it is appropriate for the project team to first estimate the required costs and ensure the finances are availed on time. Failure to carry out appropriate cost estimation results in a project stalling due to lack of resources when it is on a certain implementation stage. Also, having a budget is critical in dealing with cost controls, which at times leads to project failure. It is critical to note that lack of proper cost estimation, as well as budgeting, is a big inhibitor as far as completion of IT projects in the UAE is concerned. Some organizations fail to undertake proper cost estimations before engaging in implementation of any IT project and this result in project stalling due to lack of financial resources.

 Lastly, in engineering, associated projects failure to carry out sufficient preliminary investigations is major inhibitor project success. The preliminary investigations aim at understanding the existing alternative sources of IT systems that an organization can use to met its needs. It is aimed at assisting the management in making a decision concerning whether to outsource an IT system or to go for an in-built house system (Ferreira and Kuniyoshi, 2015). Therefore, carry out a preliminary investigation to understand the needs of the firm and available alternatives that can help to address the needs is critical in making sure any IT project end up being a success.

Suggestions for Improvements

            The inhibitors experienced during the implementation of the IT projects in the UAE organizations can be addressed by applying the waterfall methodology. One of the project implementation methodologies that can be used by companies in the UAE to enhance the success of their IT projects is waterfall methodology, which is also known as the traditional project management methodology. According to Turner (2014), waterfall methodology tends to be non-iterative or sequential design process, applied mainly in information system development processes, whereby, the progress of the project is seen as flow from one phase to another. This methodology provides some stages that information system projects should undergo so that they can be successfully implemented within an organization. These stages include conception, initiation phase, analysis phase, design stage, construction and testing stage, production or implementation stage as well as the maintenance phase.

             Failure to carry out preliminary engineering analysis is one of the inhibitors of successful IT project implementation in UAE companies. However, the use of waterfall model in project management ensures preliminary analysis is carried out in the conception, analysis and initiation phases (Turner, 2014).  This would help in ensuring that there is improvement as far as need analysis is concerned, leading to development and implementation of IT systems that are in line with specific needs of the UAE companies in the future. Also, the utilization of the waterfall methodology would help in ensuring that there are appropriate designing and planning of any IT projects, especially software development as well as implementation in the UAE companies. The move will be critical in helping the success, as poor planning, as well as designing, is a major inhibitor in implementation of IT systems within UAE companies. Finally, the use of waterfall methodology would assist in ensuring that appropriate scheduling is put in place, by making sure that a systematic flow of activities is followed, such as completing the designing phase first before embarking on system testing.

Arguments

            Different arguments in the scholarly and software development industry have been put forward concerning the use of waterfall methodology in project implementation. There are those who strongly oppose the use of waterfall methodology arguing that it has some inherent weaknesses and others support its uses due to numerous advantages associated with it. According to Turner (2014), one of the arguments provided in support of the use of waterfall model in project management is that this methodology is simple as well as easier to understand. Hence, during the project implementation, it is easier to use it, especially in making plans of the sequences that are to be followed to successfully implement an IT project involving development of systems in an organization.

             Additionally, Kerzner (2013) points out that the use of waterfall methodology allows for easier management of an IT project, as there as specific variables that are supposed to be attained in each and every phase. Thus, the model provides allow for easier monitoring of the progress of the project, especially costs and risks, as each and every phase is undertaken separately. Therefore, the use of waterfall model by UAE companies will be instrumental in enhancing the effectiveness of project management, particularly in costing and time components. This will aid in eliminating cost estimation and risk management inhibitors that limit project control, leading to them failing in the long-run. Kerzner (2013) indicates that use of waterfall model in project management helps in avoiding overlapping of various phases, which might end up inhibiting the progress of an IT project at the required pace. Hence, the application of the model by the UAE companies will help in eliminating the problem of activity of overcalling, enhancing the probability of information technology projects succeeding.

            Nonetheless, there are some arguments that are provided to the use of waterfall model while undertaking IT projects. According to Turner (2014), the rigidity of this approach makes it difficult to make changes in the project implementation process, especially where weaknesses are noted. Therefore, it may hinder companies from making changes during the IT systems testing phase, if some problems are realized, and this eventually would result in loss of financial resources invested in the project. Also, the use of this methodology creates uncertainty in projects. Meredith and Mantel, (2011) notes that during project management it is appropriate for managers to avoid uncertainty as this create confusion and levels of risks resulting in project failure. The application of the waterfall methodology in the UAE companies when implementing IT projects might create uncertainty, and this can be a major challenge that can result in project failure. 

Conclusion

 The use of waterfall methodology can be instrumental in helping UAE firms in the future to overcome some of the major inhibitors to successful implementation of IT projects. The use of this methodology would allow for proper control of costs and schedules, ensuring that cost related and time management challenges are fully avoided (Turner, 2014). However, the use of the methodology presents the challenge of uncertainty. In conclusion, despite the weaknesses of associated with the methodology, it can play a major role in eliminating most of the factors that contribute to the failure of IT projects in UAE companies.