As Lived Experience in Arriving at Information Systems Project

Topics: Project management, Tobacco, PRINCE2 Pages: 27 (8660 words) Published: January 16, 2013
As lived experience in arriving at Information Systems project objectives Flora Mpazanje, University of Cape Town, Department of information Systems, Private Bag X, Rondebosch 7700, Cape Town, South Africa. +27711383628 Kosheek Sewchurran, University of Cape Town, Department of Information Systems, Private Bag X, Rondebosch 7700, Cape Town, South Africa. The study may assist project practitioners and researchers understand project process in a more true to life manner, on how project objectives are formulated. This may encourage some better ways of managing IS projects towards success. The study might be relevant to PM institutions as well, especially when they would be updating their PM guides. Apart from validating ANT further as a lens for understand IS projects better, the study may also offer an understanding of IS projects in an African context. This may allow practitioners appreciate challenges faced by actors in this environment. II.LITERATURE REVIEW The increase in adoption of project driven approaches across sectors has persuaded institutions such as PMI to promote rules of the game and standards to guide the PM practice [7, 11, 47]. One of the rules is as set out by the definition of a project widely used in the Project Management domain as well as in the academia [38, 35]. From various definitions of a project [13 p2, 35p5, 38 p33], a project has a clear and definite outcome that is to be delivered on a specified date using specified resources. In reality, especially for IS projects, that is often not the case [47, 34] due to the fact that often requirements are not clear at the initial stage of the project. In addition, exogenous factors such as personal objectives and managers’ experience may also influence some aspects of the project, thereby reshaping its outcome all together [8, 13, 23]. It is not feasible, therefore, to budget for both resources and time in advance. The definitions emphasise the necessity of specifying an objective prior to commencement, it has however, been shown that such a practice may not lead to desired project outcome [23, 28]. This is because requirements may become more vivid as the project progresses [28, 42]. The desired outcome, therefore, may not come out as originally outlined [2, 23, 34]. The definition of a project also indicates that the specified outcome has to be on time, and delivered with pre-determined resources. If it is accepted that requirements might change as the project progresses, then it should equally be accepted that the resources necessary to achieve a desired objective might change as well [34, 38].

Projects have fast become a popular vehicle for realising business objectives. In the Information Systems field, the scenario is no different; most endeavours are implemented in the form of projects. However, formulating IS project objectives remains a contested issue to-date. This research explored and described the as-lived experience of practitioners in an IS project network in formulating project objectives. The research was a cross-sectional study of an IS project case from Malawi. Data was collected and analysed qualitatively using Actor-network Theory. The study reveals that IS project objectives are supposed to be declared upfront, however they need not be cast in stone; they are instead supposed to be redefined and reshaped by the interactions that take place among actors in the project network. This study makes a modest contribution towards the understanding of IS project objective formulation using an actor network theory lens. Keywords IS projects objectives, Objective formulation.

I.INTRODUCTION The adoption of project work methods across different sectors and industries is steadily increasing and is likely to continue [10, 12, 23, 47]. The scenario has persuaded institutions such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) to promote rules of the game and standards to guide the...
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