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Role of Empowerment in Uplifting an Organization’s Excellence in Less Developed Countries (LDC)

Challenges of Virtual Project Management In Developing Countries

Multinational/Multicultural Teams in Offshore IT Projects

Creative Maturity - Resolving the Organizational Maturity Conflict

A Unified Strategic View of Organizational Maturity

Role of Empowerment in Uplifting an Organization’s Excellence in Less Developed Countries (LDC)

 

Role of Empowerment in Uplifting an Organization’s Excellence in Less Developed Countries (LDC)

 

 

Shazia Nauman                                        Maliha Elahi                                            Suhail Iqbal, PE, PMP, MCT

shaznaum@yahoo.com                                    malihaelahi@yahoo.com                                suhail@syscompk.com

 

 

Abstract- This paper offers insight into the role of empowerment in LDC’s in managing organizations and in helping them to achieve success and growth in the current challenging business environment. The paper analyzes the relationship between Empowerment, Leadership and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) for enhancing business performance especially in the telecom industry of Pakistan.  In this research paper, we propose two models for empowerment.  First model focuses on the empowerment process and the second model illustrates a method for empowering employees leading towards CQI.

 

 

 

1.                 INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

    Empowerment is the process of releasing the full potential of employees to take on greater responsibility and authority in the decision making process and providing the resources for this process to occur [1].  Empowerment is not a new idea; the term has gained its place from 1970s onwards.

 

   The literature reviewed suggests that empowerment and leadership are essential for achievement of maximum organizational potential.  Participative management has become a key word in empowerment.  Research has shown that there is a positive link between participation and satisfaction, motivation and performance [2].  Empowerment works the best when employees need their organization as much as the organization needs them, "and the need is much more than a paycheck and benefit package" [3].

 

   Empowerment is a key issue stressed by leading social psychologist Abraham Maslow who used the term “I am part of a group” as the basis of his hierarchy of needs that contributes towards one’s growth by driving one to become what one is capable of becoming.  This self-actualization need is the essence of empowerment.  In 1978, McKinsey showed “SHARED VALUES” at the heart of his grid in his 7S model and the Theory Y of Douglas McGregor, leaving least interference or role for management to involve workers, rests the responsibility of participation and performance totally on the worker.

 

 

 

 

 

11.               HYPOTHESIS

 

 

 

   The research is based on the hypothesis that Empowerment that is staggered over stages and layers of management under a well thought out plan contributes positively towards the success of an organization.

 

 

 

111.            RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

 

 

 

   We propose two models for empowerment.  The Empowerment Process Model suggests the appropriate leadership model for empowerment in an organization.  The Empowering Employees Model proposes a method for empowering employees leading towards CQI.

 

   Based upon the Empowering Employees Model, an empowerment Audit was developed to take into account various aspects of belief systems, i.e. cultural values and boundary systems that define clearly an organization’s limits.       Empowerment Audit is used to serve as a tool to determine the present level of empowerment. The Audit comprised of a questionnaire focused on key success factors associated with empowerment.  These factors include management style, decision making, brainstorming to improve customer service, processes that impede organizational ability to generate more revenue and profit contribution, and innovation for organization’s excellence.

 

   We also developed a leadership assessment questionnaire founded on the Empowerment Process Model to see the role of leadership in the empowerment process.  Through the Leadership Assessment questionnaire, the appropriate leadership model that could serve as an ideal for supporting empowerment practices in Pakistan’s telecom sector was developed. It assessed leadership in the context of empowering employees in organizations.  The questionnaire investigated how leaders use motivation, communication, teamwork, mission and vision, and change management as a tool for empowerment, which is instrumental for personal and professional development of employees.

 

   SWOT analysis and Managerial Grid were used to evaluate the management methods and strengths and weaknesses of the organization.

 

   An analysis of the organization practices (in Pakistan with relation to empowerment) and how this soft skill may be used to uplift an organization’s excellence draws us towards the final conclusion.

 

 

 

1V.           TELECOM SECTOR OF PAKISTAN

 

 

 

   In Pakistan, the foundation of the cellular industry was laid in 1989-90 and services started in 1995-1996 [4].

 

   The government has declared Telecommunication sector as a priority area for employment generation and poverty alleviation.  The process of issuing new licenses and magnetizing foreign investment has resulted in large direct and indirect employment opportunities and cross-cultural interactions.  The sector is set to generate over 370,000 new job opportunities during the next three years.  The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), telecom experts and mobile companies are predicting expansion in mobile phones to 35-40 million in the next three to four years.  This magnitude of investment and work in a challenging global environment leaves little time for organization’s restructuring and management revamping [5].

 

 

 

V.             THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

 

 

 

 Empowerment

 

   Empowerment, the most important concept in TQM, is many things, since employees must be empowered to make the necessary organizational changes [6].  The concept of empowerment is based upon the belief that the employees need the organization as much as the organization needs them and that leaders understand that employees are the most valuable assets in the firm.

 

   Employee Empowerment:  Employee Empowerment is the process of sharing information, training and allowing employees to manage their jobs in order to obtain optimum results.  Empowered employees have "responsibility, a sense of ownership, satisfaction in accomplishments, power over what and how things are done, recognition for their ideas, and the knowledge that they are important to the organization" [7].

 

   Empowering or enabling staff, whichever term is chosen, is a fundamental aspect of CQI.  It represents a basic change in management approaches and has far-reaching implications for transforming organizations.  Vision, values, culture and a flattened organizational structure add up to an organization that emphasizes the development of its key resource-its employees-in the pursuit of higher quality.

 

   Empowered Teams:  Empowered teams are much more effective at motivating employees because the driving forces are generated by the group instead of the management.

 

   Empowered Organization:  In an empowered organization, the primary role of management is "to support and stimulate their people, co-operate to overcome cross-functional barriers, and work to eliminate fear within their own team" [8].

 

Leadership

 

   The organizational climate is influenced by the style (or consistent pattern of behavior) a leader deploys in relating to others within the team.

 

   The idea of involving all employees in the process of management was mostly unheard of until the early 1980s.  Then, through the work of management writers such as Ouchi and Deming, amongst others, it became widely known that a key part of the Japanese industrial success was due to the practice of participation; encouraging everyone to contribute to the process of innovation and decision-making [9,10]. Manfred Davidmann identified that Leadership styles vary between two extremes; one extreme is authoritarian and the other extreme is participative style of management [11].

 

   The concept of "servant-leadership," a step ahead of participative management, is now discussed as a highly effective means for ensuring that the needs of employees and customers are being met.  This style of leadership, now practiced by many successful businesses, focuses on continually increasing the empowerment of employees.  A servant-leader serves his or her employees by providing support needed for each person in the organization to grow both professionally and personally.

 

   Behavioralists have studied the implications of empowerment and generally agree that there are key success factors associated with empowerment that must be addressed before authority can successfully be delegated to staff.  This includes staff having the knowledge, skills and authority to decide and act, and taking responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

 

   Leadership Model:  Leadership Model = Four Framework Approach Model or Managerial Grid or any other out of many lying between Authoritarian Management Model and Participative Management Model.

 

   Thus we can say that:

 

q  Participative style management  = Leadership model

 

   As 

 

q  Leadership model

 

= (Principles + factors +attributes + environment)

 

   This implies that:

 

q  Participative style management = (principles + factors + attributes + environment)

 

   Participative management is admittedly a synthesis of several management theories.  The basic principle in this leadership model is to involve all employees and managers actively in a common goal.  This overall goal must be clearly defined and understood by everyone.  It is best accomplished by direct face-to-face communication among all employees and all managers.  We conclude that participatory management itself is a leadership style that is becoming more prevalent in successful and innovative organizations.

 

Relationship Between Empowerment, Leadership And Continuous Quality Improvement

 

   Empowerment and leadership are considered as cornerstones of Continuous Quality Improvement since organizations that will survive and thrive in the next decade will be the ones that maintain the momentum of continual improvement and will be able to be global market leaders.  Organizations need to empower managers and workers not only to create quality but also to sustain competitiveness making it the basis of total quality management.

 

 

 

VI.              RESEARCH ANALYSIS

 

 

 

 

 

  Empowerment In Pakistan

 

   In Pakistan managers of organizations follow a strictly hierarchical structure, which is centralized and involves a lot of micro-management.  Traditionally this style of management originates from colonial times and is practiced mainly in government institutions or by managers having served with the government.  This pyramid style of management hampers the ability of personnel to be innovative and follow a participatory approach nor does it give credit to the employee.  This is a great restraint for employees restricting their professional growth and resulting in them also adopting the same management style; call it Catch 22 or a vicious cycle.

 

   The introduction of new styles and techniques of management owing mainly to the emergence of a strong corporate sector in Pakistan, is leading to a change in this style of management.  Managers are tempted to adopt a web-style structure, which is flatter and therefore less hierarchical, but nevertheless need systems in place to promote the culture of empowering employees by providing encouragement and acknowledgement of their efforts and achievements as a team.  A team-based approach is therefore one that leads to participation by members of the team leading to their empowerment.  This style of management also addresses the issue of varying capacities through group work where employees need to support each other in order to move ahead; thus resulting in across the board empowerment and capacity development.  This style of management is therefore more desirable in the local context of Pakistan to judge participation and an effort towards empowering employees.

 

   In Pakistan companies especially IT, for example, grow to a certain level and then vanish, possibly because the company size required Participative Style Management, which was never employed, or if employed, the change management was not taken into account. The results are clear.

 

   Empowerment Style:  To rationalize the progression of empowerment, we mapped our findings to Adrian Wilkinson’s five empowerment styles [12]. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 1 

 

EMPOWERMENT STYLES

 

 

 

Information sharing

Upper management

Upward problem solving

Middle management

Attitudinal shaping style

Lower management

Task autonomy

Not practiced at workers level

Self - management

Not practiced between all levels

 

 

 

  

 

   Upper management is mostly involved in downward communication and upward communication is confined to listening to complaints.  Middle management has the power to refer problems upward for management to deal with. Attitudinal shaping style is employed for lower management. The workers are trained/educated to feel empowered (a state of mind) and play a more confident role in their interaction with the customer, but workers do not take on wider responsibility for work processes.  Decisions, rules and executive authority are still set by the few for the many.

 

   SWOT Analysis and Managerial Grid:  SWOT analysis and Managerial Grid identified the weak areas and led us to conclude that:

 

o  Although market leaders, the organization’s main focus is on product only and not quality.

 

o  Concern for employees is comparatively less with respect to concern for work.

 

o  To provide quality services to customers is an area that needs to be addressed by top management.

 

o  Role of Empowerment in CQI exists but has been deferred to the vague future.

 

 

 

Empowerment process

 

   We propose that in the process of empowerment (Figure 1), executive leadership provides the right environment and the foundation with a clear vision supporting the organization’s objectives.  Shared Leadership and Decision making result in participatory management style.  

 

   To see the role of leadership management style in the empowerment process, we developed the Leadership Assessment questionnaire based on the Empowerment Process Model.  The findings of the Leadership Assessment questionnaire helped determine the leadership management style prevailing in the leading telecom company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 1.  Empowerment Process

 

 

 

 

 

Leadership Assessment Questionnaire Findings

 

   Leaders conveying vision and mission:  Vision and mission is clearly conveyed down the management ladder, with the manager’s behavior consistent over time and projects and expectations clearly laid down.

 

   Leaders Motivating Employees:  Specific instructions are not present.  Delegation exists to a larger extent contributing in the empowerment process.  The positive aspect of the organization is that a need exists for professional development and the management does dedicate staff time to that effect.

 

   Effective Communication:  Although it exists, the 65% listening and communication level between leaders and employees indicates management is rowing a rocky boat.

 

   Empowering Employees:  Leaders do recognize employee’s efforts publicly and inform them about important issues, but responsibility is not assigned to full extent.

 

   Encouraging Teamwork:  Team members do enjoy an opportunity to speak up and are treated with dignity.  This helps leaders to have cordial relationship with employees thus resolving conflicts to a large extent.

 

   Preparing for Change:  Explaining dynamics concepts of change to employees positively conveys change management, but how managers make changes positive for them needs to be improved.

 

   We also observed that due to the lack of a Leadership model in the organization, no situational analysis or leadership behavior patterns were documented.  This was observed as one of the obstacles in the organization to realize its objective towards quality.  We conclude that empowerment process exists in the company, but needs to be fully implemented to achieve excellence.

 

 

 

Proposed Model for Empowering Employees

 

   We propose a model to empower employees (Figure 2), which will eventually bring about quality improvements in the telecom sector organizations.  This model proposes that a CQI strategy is believed to fail if empowerment of employees and participatory management style are absent.  Quality starts with engaging the people responsible for processes- the people who know the processes the best.  We suggest that effective policies and procedures need to be there to support them.  We also put forward that participative management is successful in fostering responsibility, shared decision-making, face-to-face communication, innovation, teamwork, motivation and belongingness in empowered organizations.

 

   To find out what is the level of empowerment in the organization under study, we developed the Empowerment Audit Questionnaire based on this model.

 

 

 

Fig. 2.  Empowering Employees Lead to CQI

 

 

 

 

 

Empowerment Audit

 

   We found that leaders of the telecom sector, which was used as a case study, are conscious of the empowerment dimension of quality.  Questionnaire analysis supports that empowerment is extensively used as a tool for the organization’s excellence but in spite of this, quality remains a core problem.  The Empowerment Audit revealed that:

 

o  Brainstorming, team participation, and information sharing exists in the company at about 60 % and networking with staff and change agents is 87.5 %, which shows that there is a participative management environment, which is a key indicator for empowerment.

 

o  Customer focus is about 75% in the company whereas supplier’s focus is weak (about 37%), thereby adversely affecting their quality.

 

o  Although the leaders encourage employees to take responsibility for improving the way things are done, they are not enabling the employees to take bigger decisions without referring to someone senior.

 

o  We found most of the elements of empowerment in the ‘Working on it’ phase and not actually being implemented in total as shown in Figure 3.

 

o  Although the organization has the potential to empower its employees, the cycle has not been completed.

 

o  When empowerment is fully implemented, quality issues will be resolved.

 

 

 

Fig.  3.  Empowerment Audit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VII.             CONCLUSION

 

 

 

   Quality in telecom management is a key challenge that must be considered from a strategic point of view, and includes such dimensions as organizational vision, values, attitude, policy planning, leadership, and the pursuit of excellence through continuous improvement.  It is, therefore, of utmost importance that telecom service providers understand and implement this broader dimension of quality.

 

   The advantages of empowerment clearly outweigh the disadvantages for any organization.  We conclude that success of an organization is only achievable when the goals are clearly defined and all its employees are motivated to achieve the common objective.  We also found that motivation is best when it comes from within the group – which is only achievable when teams are empowered not only individuals.

 

   We see that shared values are right at the heart of McKinsey’s 7S model, as early as 1978, although not in the same terminology.  It was recognized that shared values that bring about a sense of ownership is important for an organization to gain competitive advantage.  This is a neglected area for the company and needs to be addressed if the organization intends to remain a key market player in the telecom industry in Pakistan.

 

   Reward systems exist in all organizations, but rewarding “educated risk-taking” is unheard of.  Risk is essential for innovation to survive in organizations.  Empowered style is best suited when lots of small continuous innovations and flexible responses are required; these are the ingredients to gaining competitive advantage.

 

   Like most emerging mobile markets, Pakistan is also a prepaid-driven market and the industry-wide sales mix normally consists of 85% prepaid.  Similar results are seen from purchase intention data from potential mobile subscribers. The organizations need to come up with innovative market strategies and need to keep their customers happy.  For this it is suggested that the organizations need to be customer-centric, and empower their frontline managers as demonstrated by Ritz-hotel.  The organization structure must be flexible to bring company-wide quality and also to maintain a competitive edge over its competitors. Social and cultural dynamics of Pakistan require that participative management style is adapted to its unique characteristics.  

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

 

 

 [1]   Roger Cartwright. (2002). "Empowerment."  pp. 6, 2002

 

 [2]   Hollander, Edwin P. Offerman, Lynn R. "Power and Leadership in Organizations." American Psychologist, pp. 179-188, February 1990.

 

[3]    Johnson, Richard S. "TQM: Leadership for the Quality Transformation.” pp.  47-49, April 1993.

 

[4]    Mohammad   Saleem Shaikh, “ Cellular and wireless telephony: the way forward by,” published in The NEWS, March 7, 2005

 

[5]    Ahmad Naeem Khan, “ Mobile Fever Grips Pakistan,” published in The NEWS, April 02, 2005

 

[6]    Stevens, David P., "Avoiding failure with total quality.”  December 1993.

 

[7]    Turney, Peter B.B."Beyond TQM With Workforce Activity Based Management."  September 1993.

 

[8]    Hand, Max. "Freeing the victims." Personnel Review, February 1994.

 

[9]   Ouchi, W., Theory Z: How American Business Can Meet the Japanese Challenge, Addison-Wesley, 1980.

 

[10] Deming, W.E., “Quality, Productivity and Competitive Position, M.I.T., 1982.

 

[11] Manfred Davidmann, “Style of Management and Leadership” Second edition, 1982.

 

[12] Wilkinson, A., Empowerment Theory and Practice, Personnel Review, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp.40–56, 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: August 21, 2015 12:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Challenges of Virtual Project Management In Developing Countries

Categories: IT Offshore Projects

 

Challenges of Virtual Project Management In Developing Countries

Suhail Iqbal, PE, PMP, MCT                                                                   Shazia Nauaman

suhail@syscompk.com                                                                             shaznaum@yahoo.com

 

 

Abstract- Multi-cultural virtual teams are important due to the increasing globalization of organizations and proliferation of new network technologies. Global Virtual Teams rarely meet in a face-to-face context and thus encounter challenging problems not associated with traditional co-located teams. To understand the complex issues in a virtual project environment in developing countries, we conducted a research study encompassing these aspects in various software houses in Pakistan.

The research study explores and identifies the major cultural challenges and operational and technical complexities faced by virtual project management.  We propose a model showing positive reinforcing relationship between various factors of virtual project management thus resulting in effective virtual project management.

 

1.       INTRODUCTION

 

  Virtual project management is the system by which virtual teams collaborate for a finite period of time towards a specific goal to be achieved within time, within budget and according to specifications.  Virtual teams are defined here as groups of geographically and organizationally dispersed knowledge workers brought together across time and space through information and communication technologies in response to specific customer needs or to complete unique projects [1].

Technology helps create the "virtual workspace" that the team uses to communicate and collaborate.  Cynthia proposes that an appropriate approach is to view virtual projects and teams as simply projects and teams with a virtual overlay [2].

Virtual Project Management (VPM) is supplanting the traditional concept of project management because of persistent pressures to reduce costs and headcount, the need to quickly address customer problems, develop products, deliver services, and tap a more diverse pool of employees across the organization [3].  Several studies suggest that Global Virtual Teams (GVTs) face significant challenges in four major areas: communication, culture, technology, and project management [4]. Current research suggests that virtual team failure is directly related to the difficulties of building trust, positive relationships across the three boundaries of geographical distance, time zones, and cultural differences [5].  Dube and Pare [6] outline several of the problems and challenges faced by GVTs.

The challenges of leading and managing virtual teams are intensified in GVTs because of the different cultures, languages, business practices and attitudes relating to hierarchy and power.  It is critical that leaders of GVTs need to be cognizant of these differences and increase team awareness of regarding these differences.

In this research paper, we will address different elements of virtual project management such as culture and language barriers, communication and information security, information redundancy as a result of multi-channel communication, time zone differences, face to face context, team structure, trust building, conflict resolution and management, motivation and tacit knowledge sharing.

 

111.          HYPOTHESIS

 

Virtual project management is vital to corporate growth and helps teams to operate in the most efficient and human - sensitive way through information technology, across continents or across buildings within the same geographic locations. 

11.     RESEARCH METODOLOGY

 

We carried out an in-depth analysis of all the elements of virtual project management, their effects on the execution of a project and their relationship with one another using a discrete structure model.  The model assumes the different elements of virtual project management as discrete structures and relates these elements using logical operators (e-g AND, OR).  The model was correlated and validated by conducting a primary research survey to document results visually. We supported our hypothesis by establishing a ‘Factor Reinforcing’ relationship between different elements of virtual project management.

Given the nature of study, a primary research survey of various software houses in Pakistan was conducted to authentically establish the proposed model.  The survey was done using pre-tested questionnaires, which included both open ended and close-ended questions.  Formal, informal interviews were conducted to support the findings.

 

1V.           PROPOSED MODEL THAT SUPPORTS OUR HYPOTHESIS

 

Our hypothesis was to determine a relationship between various factors e-g communication, motivation, information security, trust building etc that contribute towards effective Virtual Project Management.

We first created a model that establishes the interrelationship between these factors and their resultant effect on Virtual Project Management.  We found that various factors related by logical operators (e-g AND, OR) reinforce one another to produce effective or non-effective virtual project management.  The Model has been created in the form of logical expressions or implications using logical operators AND, OR.  These logical expressions were then converted into flow diagrams to enhance comprehension.

 

Proposition 1      

   Effective Communication => Effective VPM

 

Proposition 2

   Greater the degree of Virtual Project Management => Greater degree of multi-organizational culture/distributed organization control

 

Proposition 3      

   Documentation OR Multi-channel communication => Information Redundancy

 

Proposition 4

   Multi-channel communication AND Documentation AND Information Security => Effective VPM

 

Proposition 5      

   Greater geographical distance (time zone differences) OR non- existence of face-to-face interaction  => Lower levels of motivation among team members

 

Proposition 6

   Greater degree of physical one to one interaction AND Greater degree of flexibility among parties (conflict resolution) AND Greater level of trust among geographically distributed teams => High levels of motivation among geographically distributed teams 

 

Proposition 7

   Time zone difference advantage =>  High productivity and profitability of an organization.

 

   These propositions are shown below as flow diagrams in the Factor Reinforcing Model for VPM elements.

 

 

Fig.  1.  Factor Reinforcing Model for VPM elements.

Fig.   2.   Factor Reinforcing Model for VPM elements.

 

 

V.             VIRTUAL TEAM PROJECTS IN SOFTWARE INDUSTRY

 

Now a days virtual team projects are becoming more common in the software industry.   The power of distributed development can increase an organization's opportunities to win new work by opening up a broader skill and product knowledge base, coupled with a deeper pool of potential employees [7].

   Many organizations in Pakistan are creating virtual project teams, using a mix of offshore, outsourced and key internal resources in an attempt to provide a cost effective approach for meeting business needs.  Pakistan is a low wage country thus it is a source of attraction for low cost software development industry.

 

V.             MAIN THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK - DISCOVERING THE CHALLENGES OF VIRTUAL PROJECTS   MANAGEMENT

 

Main concepts contributing to conceptual framework are briefly presented below.  We support our hypothesis by describing the interactions among elements of VPM.

 

Project Infrastructure

A project infrastructure can be best defined as the software, hardware, network, data, and content comprising the working environment of the project team.  An integrated project infrastructure can significantly reduce the risks commonly associated with the virtual project team approach.  This integrated project infrastructure is the reason for success of Data Ware Houses that we visited.

 

Communication

The success of any project relies on crisp, moment-to-moment communication of task assignments, responsibilities, milestones, issues and problems.  The timeliness of corrective actions relies on the speed of communication among team members.

   Dispersed teams have less opportunity for face-to-face communication and hence lose non-verbal aspects of communications that make up 65% to 93 % of a message’s meaning [8].  Differences in culture and language may further impede communication. When coworkers are not located in the same location, camaraderie and socializing -- important informal aspects of teamwork coordination-- are significantly reduced, and cohesiveness and team unity, and the means of socializing with new members of the global team, are harder to cultivate [9,10].

Teams operating in the virtual environment face greater obstacles to orderly and efficiently information exchange because they rely heavily on information technology to communicate.

 

Language Barriers

One of the main problems in virtual teams is the difference in languages that are spoken.   When the team members speak different languages they have trouble communicating.

 

Face-to-Face communication

   Physical separation, whether in different buildings in the same city or in different countries leads to a lack of collaboration.  Research has shown that people will not collaborate very often if they are more than 50 feet apart.  The natural tendency of distant participants not to collaborate with each other can cause disengagement from the project and its objectives [11]. 

   The lack of face-to-face interaction in virtual teams may create obstacles to effective coordination and communication more salient and thus further impair team effectiveness [12]. Some researchers explicitly advocate periodic face-to-face meetings for teams involved in intensive communication tasks (e.g. project planning) to build and maintain interpersonal relationships [13,14].

 

Information Redundancy

Information Redundancy implies the replication of information that occurs due to the usage of multiple channels of communication, excess documentation, lack of effective communication and as a result of effective security measures e-g organizations would like to replicate important information on various servers as a backup.

 

Time

Time can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending upon the type of work and where the customer is located.  Time becomes a problem when people who are not in the same place need some of their activities to be synchronized. Gorton and Motwani argue that if virtual teams are used in the requirements definition stage, the teams can exploit overnight gain effect due to the time difference between the locations [15].

 

Proper Security

Use of internet as the backbone to collaborate on a project presents new risks to the team which is used to working in the confines of the corporate intranet.  It’s the project manager’s responsibility to ensure that the project environment, documents and data are not accessible to the competitors, or to hackers on the internet.

 

Motivation

Motivation is a critical element for a high performing project team, regardless of whether the team is collocated or is operating in a virtual environment.  On a virtual project team, team members need to overcome the sense of isolation.  It is easy for a virtual team member to have an "out-of-sight", "out-of mind" reaction.

 

Cultural Differences

Members of different organizational cultures may often have different norms, values and policies, that may lead to misunderstandings, hidden agendas, uncertainty and conflict [16].  In the case of multinational projects, national cultural differences also come into play, e.g. related to management behavior [17].

In heterogeneous cultural situations the misunderstandings and potential lack of trust are likely to be higher, thus hampering further satisfactory project management [18]. 

 

Conflict Resolution

Conflict is common in projects.  Without the ability to interact face to face and learn from one another, conflict is more likely to occur in such virtual environment.

Cultural differences between software team members may cause conflicts and affect performance.  When a culturally diverse team initially takes shape, its members will need time to be able to adjust to the cultural differences among them.  However, as team members learn to interact with each other, despite their different backgrounds, performance differences should disappear [19].

 

Trust

Trust on a virtual environment is critical for the success of a project [20].  Studies on the sustainability of virtual collaboration suggest that trust is critical to ensuring the optimal use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to support the exchange among business partners [21].

It is also evident from the previous studies on ICT, trust and collaboration that understanding of social systems in which individuals, groups or organizations operate is a powerful mechanism for the development and sustainability of trust in an on-line or virtual environment [22].  One of the best ways to create this trust is a face-to-face encounter, although other alternatives also exist.

 

Project Team Knowledge And Cross-Team Collaboration

 The most valuable asset of any IT organization is the collective knowledge of its staff. One of the greatest risks of using a virtual project team is loss of this collective knowledge.  Since most virtual teams use contractors and/or offshore outsourcing, a knowledge-based approach must be implemented as a way of effectively capturing their applications and technical knowledge.  A project infrastructure providing knowledge-base capability will allow team members to collaborate on and share source code, articles, lessons learned, tips & tricks, procedures, sample deliverables and other project artifacts.  If coupled with a powerful search and retrieval engine this capability will provide great payback on future projects.

 

V1.           RESEARCH FINDINGS

 

Findings Supporting Proposition One

   We found from the analysis of this research that tacit knowledge is not shared in VPM.  The lack of mutual knowledge and shared language among team members impede communication.

The studied Data warehouses have an infrastructure, which provides real-time project information, via the internet or telephone that connects team members, management and customers.  E-mail is most commonly used for sharing information with team members in different time zones and working commitments.

Most virtual project teams prefer basic tools such as phone, e-mail, and standard project management software like Microsoft Project/Prima Vera.  Dedicated network connection and teleconferencing, a common feature in large software houses is absent in small software houses and only e-mail and telephone are the main modes of communication. 

  In case of communication deadlock in virtual projects, physical visits bridge the communication gap.  The language problem in Pakistan warehouses is overcome by agreeing upon a common standard language that is English.

We observed that great team communication also serves as the basis for building the trust, group synergy and espirit de corpse required to be successful.

The aforementioned findings support our proposition one that effective communication implies effective virtual project management.

 

Findings Supporting Proposition Two

We found that 75% of the organizations operate as pure geographically distributed teams using VPM tools.  There is not usually enough time or close bonding between members in a project involving virtual teams, for building and maintaining a team culture.  We found that members in teams with a temporal nature usually appear less loyal to the team and its goals.  There is low homogeneity among global virtual team members.

The above-mentioned finding supports proposition two that greater the degree of Virtual Project Management greater will be the degree of multi-organization culture/ distributed organization control.

 

Findings Supporting Proposition Three

We found that multiple communication channels although results in excessive documentation yet it aid decision-making.  75% companies agree that excess documentation is produced as a result of VPM.  This supports proposition three that information redundancy is a side effect that is produced as a result of documentation and multi-channel communication.

Findings Supporting Proposition Four

   To insure proper security, the project infrastructure uses industry standard security approaches.  Firewalls and encryption software are the most commonly used security measure.

The findings support proposition four that in order to have effective virtual project management, we must have the presence of all the three factors namely multi channel communication, documentation and measures for information security.

 

Findings Supporting Proposition Five

We found that non-existence of face-to-face interaction is a disadvantage for virtual projects and it lowers motivation level among team members.  Furthermore, motivation level is lower in small organization where ICT support is insufficient and effective communication is absent.

The aforesaid supports proposition five that greater the geographical distance (time zone differences) or no face-to-face interaction will lower the motivation among team members.

 

Findings Supporting Proposition Six

Cultural differences are overcome by nourishing the belief of equality among all the resources of a company.  A company handbook is provided to them, which evidently emphasizes bringing-in no points of cultural/religious issues within the office premises.  Honesty in work and delivering the product up to contract and in time is regarded important everywhere regardless of cultural differences.

75% of project teams function in a multi-organizational culture with a moderate degree of organizational control.  Most virtual project organizations have functional team structure.  80% of the organizations have high level of trust among their teams implemented through formal procedures, visual templates and documentation. 

We also noted that building trustworthy relationships among virtual project managers is dependent on the level of face-to-face communication support.  Large software houses in Pakistan have recognized the need of personal contact and training workshops are now organized not only for top executives but for other team members as well.  Lack of trust tends to discourage communication amongst team members.

The above stated findings support proposition six that greater one to one interaction and flexibility among parties and greater level of trust implies high level of motivation among team members.

 

Findings Supporting Proposition Seven

We found that time zone difference is an advantage for some software houses while a disadvantage for others. Delayed responses and a short window of opportunity to discuss issues are the disadvantages of time zone difference.  Standard documentation, templates for each activity and deliverables help in resolving the issue of time zone difference in large software houses whereas lack of standard documentation in small companies result in productivity loss and conflict.  Moreover teleconferencing at mutual convenient time and good documentation help in resolving this issue.

The aforementioned findings support proposition seven that time zone advantage leads to high profitability of an organization.

 

VI1.          CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 

 In this study we provided a deeper understanding of the significant issues of global virtual teams by developing a list of critical success or failure factors in managing virtual project teams.  We validated the model proposed through our research findings to conclude that various elements of virtual project management reinforce one another to produce effective or non-effective virtual project management.

The study yields interesting conclusions that can help organizations to manage their global virtual team projects more effectively in the context of developing countries.  This study makes some initial observations regarding the challenges faced by global virtual project teams.  There exist several potential directions for subsequent research in this field.

Different forms of virtual projects have become more widespread, as a result of the increasing focus on globalization and organizational flexibility.  It is here to stay.  Therefore, a framework for working virtually is essential.  Many of the processes, which exist informally in a physical environment, need to be formalized in a virtual one as the potential for tasks to get done by chance is significantly reduced.  The virtual team must, however, be quick to modify or discard those processes, which are not generating business value.

We suggest some recommendations for improving the virtual processes:

q  Members in a distributed project management environments often have expertise in a specific area, so there is a great need for knowledge sharing via effective communication and knowledge management techniques.

q  Initial face-to-face communication is an essential prerequisite in establishing higher levels of trust and motivation among mangers working from geographically dispersed locations.

q  Managers or team leaders must play as a communication bridge between the two developers of virtual teams in order to minimize conflict.

q  A single communication point is a must to avoid redundancy and conflict.

q  For effective communication, the appropriate use of telephones, video-conferencing and face-to-face meetings should be considered essential.

q  Clear ownership, roles and responsibilities are essential.  Leaders should play an effective role to implement these processes.

 

REFERENCES

 

[1]     DeSanctis, G., and Poole, M. S.  “Transitions in Teamwork in New Organizational Forms,” Advances in Group Processes (14), pp. 157-176, 1997.

 [2]       Cantu, Cynthia, “Virtual Teams”, CSWT Papers, Center for the Study of Work Teams, University of North Texas, 1997, available at http://www.workteams.unt.edu/reports/Cantu.html

[3]        Duarte, Deborah L. Snyder, Nancy Tennant, “Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies, Tools, and Techniques That Succeed”, Jossey Bass, 2001.

[4]        Kay worth, Timothy and Leidner, Dorthy, “The Global Virtual Manager: A Perspective for Success,” European Management Journal,   pp. 183-194, Aug 2000.

[5]        Kimble, Chris, Li, Feng, and Barlow, Alexis, "Effective Virtual Teams through Communities of Practice," Management Science Research Paper No.2000/09.

[6]        L. Dube, and G. Pare, “Global Virtual Teams”, Communications of the ACM, vol. 44, no. 12, pp. 71-73, 2001.

 [7]       McMahon, P. E., "Distributed Development:  Insights, Challenges, and Solutions," Cross Talk, from http://www.stsc.hill.af.mil/

CrossTalk/2001/nov/mcmahon.asp, 2001.

[8]        Harris, T. E. “Applied Organizational Communication: Perspectives, Principles, and Pragmatics.” Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1993.

[9]        Alexander, S. “ Virtual Teams Going Global,” InfoWorld, from http://www.infoworld.com/articles/ca/xml/00/11/13/001113cavirtual.xml, November 2000.

[10]      Benett, G., “Working Together, Apart” Intranet Journal, from http://www.intranetjournal.com/features/idm0398-pm1.shtml, 2001.

[11]      Allen, Thomas J., “Managing the Flow of Technology” Technology Transfer and the Dissemination of Technological Information within the R&D Organization, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977.

 [12]     Jarvenpaa, S., and Leidner, D.,  “Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams,” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication (3), pp. 6-36, 2004.

 [13]     DeMeyer, A.,  “Tech Talk:  How Managers Are Stimulating Global R&D Communication,” Sloan Management Review (32), pp. 49-59, 1991.

 [14]     Gelegher, J., and Kraut, R. E.  “Computer-Mediated Communication for Intellectual Teamwork:  An Experiment in Group Writing,” Information Systems Research (5), pp. 110-138, 1994.

 [15]     I. Gorton, and S. Motwani, “Issue in co-operative softwar eengineering using globally distributed teams.” Information and Software Technology, vol. 38, pp. 647-655, 1996.

 [16]     Evaristo, J.R. "Non-consensual Negotiation in Distributed Collaboration,” Communications of the ACM, pp. 89, 2001.

 [17]     Dube, L. and Pare, G. "Global Virtual Teams," Communications of the ACM (44:12), pp. 71-73, 2001.

 [18]     Evaristo, J.R. "The Management of Distributed Projects Across Cultures," Proceedings of the BITWORLD, Cairo, Egypt, 2000.

 [19]     Watson, W. E., Kumar, K. and Michaelsen, K. K. “Cultural Diversity’s Impact on Interaction Process and Performance: Comparing Homogeneous and Diverse Task Groups”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 36, pp 590-602, 1993.

 [20]     Jarvenpaa, S.L. and Leidner, D.E. "Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Terms," Journal of Computer mediated Communication (3:4), 1998.

 [21]     Bandow, D., “Working with the Borg: Trust, systems development and dispersed work groups,” Proceedings of the Conference on Computer Personnel Research, pp.163-169, 1998.

 [22]     Hossain, L., & Wigand, R. T., “Towards a social exchange perspective for e-business management.” Manuscript submitted for publication, 2002.

 

 

 

Posted on: August 21, 2015 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Multinational/Multicultural Teams in Offshore IT Projects

Categories: IT Offshore Projects

 

Multinational/Multicultural Teams in Offshore IT Projects

 

Suhail Iqbal, PE, PMP

 

CEO, SysComp International (Pvt.) Ltd.

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

 

 

 

The rising trend of outsourcing IT projects to countries with more economical workforce and considerable time differential, has given rise to a host of problems relating teamwork. Co-location, which was once considered an effective teamwork tool is now getting lost in the crowd of telecommuters and offshore distributed teams. The reliance on electronic media has even replaced the need for face-to-face communication and even help desks are now located offshore. This paper focuses on the multinational and multicultural issues faced by outsourcing companies and their offshore partners, especially in IT projects. How to bridge the wide communication gap and make offshore IT Project a sure success is the theme of this paper. Case studies from India, Pakistan and other potential offshore partners are discussed to extract best practices. Asia is considered to be the offshore heaven for IT projects being outsourced from USA, Canada and even UK. Where cheaper workforce is one major consideration, the time zone difference of 8-10 hours contributes positively towards outsourcing medical/legal transcription and call center businesses. English being the second spoken language in Asia, the accent of people from Asia is very adaptable to the native accents of USA, Canada and UK. The problems rise when the cultural and national abnormalities and habits cause differences and such projects face disaster. Only if both the nations can understand each other better psychologically and culturally, this gap can easily be bridged, thus assuring success to such IT Projects.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

 

The outsourcing of IT projects was at peak around year 2000 after which the trend started to decline a bit, due to the fact, that many developed countries started giving more value to onshore operations or insourcing. Still a major portion of IT projects are being outsourced to Asian countries like India and Pakistan due to the obvious advantage of economical workforce and considerable time differential. Considering the fact that in several parts of Asia the per capita income is still less than US$10 per day, the IT resources are at least 10 times cheaper than in the developed countries. The countries (e.g., India) which have demonstrated remarkable cost reduction, quality, delivery and reliability improvement (Mette, et al., 2005), are obviously the outsourcing leaders and have since raised their rates. Conversely, the countries (e.g., Pakistan, Bangladesh etc.) which have yet to be tested in the field of offshore IT projects are still offering the services at a much cheaper rate (Iqbal, et al., 2005a). Where outsourcing offers definite advantages, it has also given rise to certain problems, which were never experienced before. Co-location, which was once considered an effective teamwork tool is now getting lost in the crowd of telecommuters and offshore distributed teams. The reliance on electronic media has even replaced the need for face-to-face communication and even help desks are now located offshore. The multinational and multicultural issues like language barrier, communication, security, conflict and information redundancy, have caused the hesitance to continue, on the part of outsourcing companies and their offshore partners. A number of studies have so far been carried out and a lot of research is underway to facilitate outsourcing or to find an alternative. For the purpose of this paper a primary survey was carried out based on software houses in Pakistan and various propositions were tested to authenticate proposed model for virtual project management (Iqbal, et al., 2005a). The findings will highlight the best practices which can facilitate outsourcing IT projects to less developed countries like Pakistan.

 

 

 

Outsourcing

 

 

 

Outsourcing can be defined as “the strategic use of outside resources to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources” (Griffiths, 1999). Sometimes known also as “facilities management”, outsourcing is a strategy by which an organization contracts out major functions to specialized and efficient service providers, who become valued business partners. According to the research by Mette et al., (2005), Zhu (2003) defines outsourcing as “the process of transferring the responsibility for a specific business function from an employee group to a non-employee group”. Similarly, Elram (2003) states “outsourcing is defined as the transfer of the production of goods or services that had been performed internally to an external party”, and Munsch (2004): “Many companies have outsourced various activities once performed within their organizations”. Other authors define outsourcing in line with the make/buy decision (Nellore, 2001) or as a sourcing decision like Shya and Stenbacka (2002): “Thus, the choice to buy chips from Intel can be viewed as the choice to outsource the production of a (key) component”.

 

 

 

Variety of Sourcing Concepts

 

 

 

The growing interest in the purchasing and supply chain management literature has generated a variety of organizational concepts describing firms’ acquisition of materials. The terms buying, purchasing, procurement and sourcing are usually used interchangeably, but in the academic literature these terms are often used in number different contexts (Leenders and Fearon, 1993). Buying refers generally to the actual buying of materials and the associated decision process within a firm. Purchasing is described more broadly in the literature to also include some activities related to the buying process, and procurement is normally used to describe the purchasing process in public organizations like hospitals, universities, etc. We use the term sourcing in the broadest sense to include all of the above concepts, but also outsourcing, insourcing etc. Domestic sourcing thus can be defined as when the firm and the suppliers are located in the same country, whereas international sourcing involves the acquisition of material from foreign sources i.e. the suppliers is located in other countries than the acquiring firm itself (Mette, et al., 2005). Thus domestic sourcing is an onshore operation where international sourcing is an offshore operation.

 

  • Sourcing: the overarching process of purchasing, procurement, outsourcing, insourcing etc.
  • Purchasing: the process of buying components in the market; these have not previously been produced within the legal boundaries of the buying firm
  • Outsourcing: has occurred when an activity that a firm previously preformed internally has been transferred to an external party
  • In-sourcing: activity that a firm previously outsourced to an external party, but has now been transferred back into the firm

 

 

 

Virtual Project Management

 

 

 

Virtual project management is the system by which virtual teams collaborate for a finite period of time towards a specific goal to be achieved within time, within budget and according to specifications (Iqbal et al., 2005a). Virtual teams are defined here as groups of geographically and organizationally dispersed knowledge workers brought together across time and space through information and communication technologies in response to specific customer needs or to complete unique projects (DeSanctis, 1997). Technology helps create the "virtual workspace" that the team uses to communicate and collaborate.  Cantu (1997) proposes that an appropriate approach is to view virtual projects and teams as simply projects and teams with a virtual overlay.

 

 

 

Virtual Project Management (VPM) is supplanting the traditional concept of project management because of persistent pressures to reduce costs and headcount, the need to quickly address customer problems, develop products, deliver services, and tap a more diverse pool of employees across the organization (Duarte, 2001).  Several studies suggest that Global Virtual Teams (GVTs) face significant challenges in four major areas: communication, culture, technology, and project management (Kayworth, 2000). Current research suggests that virtual team failure is directly related to the difficulties of building trust, positive relationships across the three boundaries of geographical distance, time zones, and cultural differences (Kimble, 2000).  Dube and Pare (2001) outline several of the problems and challenges faced by GVTs.

 

 

 

Advantages of Offshore IT projects

 

 

 

Reasons for Outsourcing

 

 

 

Griffith (1999) outlines a number of reasons for outsourcing which obviously lead to the advantages of offshore IT projects. Here are some common reasons:

 

·        Reduce and control operating costs

 

·        Improve host company focus

 

·        Gain access to world-class capabilities

 

·        Free internal resources for other purposes

 

·        A function is time-consuming to manage or is out of control

 

·        Insufficient resources are available internally

 

·        Share risks with a partner company

 

 

 

Types of International Outsourcing

 

 

 

It will further facilitate for us to come up with advantages, if we take the reference from Mette, et al., (2005) of the Types of International Outsourcing and how does degree of control and involvement can be exercised in various types. Most of the projects being sublet to Asia are of the type “Offshore subcontracting” in which degree of control is high and degree of involvement, low.

 

 

 

 

Table 1 – Types of International Outsourcing

 

(Mette, et al., 2005)

 

 

 

Types of Outsourcing Costs

 

 

 

Three types of costs are relevant in making the decision between internal production and outsourcing: production costs, bargaining costs, and opportunism costs, with the latter two being governance costs. (Mette, et al., 2005)

 

  • Production costs are either the costs of internal production or the price of direct purchase.
  • Bargaining costs include the following kinds of costs;
    • costs arising from negotiating contract details per se;
    • costs of negotiating changes to the contract in the post-contract stage, when unforeseen circumstances arise;
    • costs of monitoring whether performance is being adhered to by the other party, and
    • costs of disputes, which arise if neither party wishes to utilize pre-agreed-to resolution mechanisms, especially ‘contract breaking’ mechanisms.
  • Opportunism costs are governance costs arising due to the opportunity.

 

 

 

Only the first type of bargaining cost is experienced at the time of contracting, all remaining types are experienced

 

subsequent to the outsourcing decision. Virtually all of these bargaining costs can be anticipated and dealt with at the time of contracting, however, cost alone cannot explain the outsourcing decision.

 

 

 

Benefits of Outsourcing

 

 

 

Now a days virtual team projects are becoming more common in the software industry. The power of distributed development can increase an organization's opportunities to win new work by opening up a broader skill and product knowledge base, coupled with a deeper pool of potential employees (McMahon, 2001). Many organizations in Pakistan are creating virtual project teams, using a mix of offshore, outsourced and key internal resources in an attempt to provide a cost effective approach for meeting business needs.  Pakistan is a low wage country thus it is a source of attraction for low cost software development industry (Iqbal, et al., 2005a). The obvious benefits of outsourcing as already mentioned in introduction are cost reduction, quality, delivery and reliability improvement. These benefits can be listed as follows:-

 

  • A technical and functional edge on the competition, without capital investment.
  • Faster development and start up
  • Lower cost or Cost Reduction
  • Enhanced performance
  • A better-managed e-business infrastructure
  • Quality Improvement
  • Delivery Improvement
  • Reliability Improvement
  • Security (can also be construed as a disadvantage or a limitation when using internet).
  • Maximizes uptime
  • A more effective operating environment at the backend.

 

 

 

Teamwork Issues caused by multinational/multicultural environment

 

 

 

Project Infrastructure

 

 

 

A project infrastructure can be best defined as the software, hardware, network, data, and content comprising the working environment of the project team.  An integrated project infrastructure can significantly reduce the risks commonly associated with the virtual project team approach.  This integrated project infrastructure is the reason for success of Data Warehouses surveyed in Pakistan.

 

 

 

Communication

 

 

 

The success of any project relies on crisp, moment-to-moment communication of task assignments, responsibilities, milestones, issues and problems.  The timeliness of corrective actions relies on the speed of communication among team members. Dispersed teams have less opportunity for face-to-face communication and hence lose non-verbal aspects of communications that make up 65% to 93 % of a message’s meaning (Harris, 1993).  Differences in culture and language may further impede communication. When co-workers are not located in the same location, camaraderie and socializing -- important informal aspects of teamwork coordination-- are significantly reduced, and cohesiveness and team unity, and the means of socializing with new members of the global team, are harder to cultivate (Alexander, 2000, Benett, 2001). Teams operating in the virtual environment face greater obstacles to orderly and efficiently information exchange because they rely heavily on information technology to communicate.

 

 

 

Language Barriers

 

 

 

One of the main problems in virtual teams is the difference in languages that are spoken.   When the team members speak different languages they have trouble communicating. English being the second largely spoken language in Asia and in most of the countries like Pakistan and India, official language, serves a major advantage to offshore IT projects. The only problems that remains is accent which can otherwise me mastered for call centers or online help desks.

 

 

 

Face-to-Face communication

 

Physical separation, whether in different buildings in the same city or in different countries leads to a lack of collaboration.  Research has shown that people will not collaborate very often if they are more than 50 feet apart.  The natural tendency of distant participants not to collaborate with each other can cause disengagement from the project and its objectives (Allen, 1997).  The lack of face-to-face interaction in virtual teams may create obstacles to effective coordination and communication more salient and thus further impair team effectiveness (Jarvenpaa, et al., 2004). Some researchers explicitly advocate periodic face-to-face meetings for teams involved in intensive communication tasks (e.g. project planning) to build and maintain interpersonal relationships (DeMeyer, 1991, Gelegher, et al., 1997).

 

 

 

Information Redundancy

 

 

 

Information Redundancy implies the replication of information that occurs due to the usage of multiple channels of communication, excess documentation, lack of effective communication and as a result of effective security measures e.g., organizations would like to replicate important information on various servers as a backup.

 

 

 

Time

 

 

 

Time can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending upon the type of work and where the customer is located.  Time becomes a problem when people who are not in the same place need some of their activities to be synchronized. Gorton and Motwani (1996) argue that if virtual teams are used in the requirements definition stage, the teams can exploit overnight gain effect due to the time difference between the locations.

 

 

 

Proper Security

 

 

 

Use of internet as the backbone to collaborate on a project presents new risks to the team which is used to working in the confines of the corporate intranet.  It’s the project manager’s responsibility to ensure that the project environment, documents and data are not accessible to the competitors, or to hackers on the internet.

 

 

 

Motivation

 

 

 

Motivation is a critical element for a high performing project team, regardless of whether the team is collocated or is operating in a virtual environment.  On a virtual project team, team members need to overcome the sense of isolation.  It is easy for a virtual team member to have an "out-of-sight", "out-of mind" reaction.

 

 

 

Cultural Differences

 

 

 

Members of different organizational cultures may often have different norms, values and policies, that may lead to misunderstandings, hidden agendas, uncertainty and conflict (Evaristo, 2001).  In the case of multinational projects, national cultural differences also come into play, e.g. related to management behavior (Dube, et al., 2001). In heterogeneous cultural situations the misunderstandings and potential lack of trust are likely to be higher, thus hampering further satisfactory project management (Evaristo, 2000). 

 

 

 

Conflict Resolution

 

 

 

Conflict is common in projects.  Without the ability to interact face to face and learn from one another, conflict is more likely to occur in such virtual environment. Cultural differences between software team members may cause conflicts and affect performance.  When a culturally diverse team initially takes shape, its members will need time to be able to adjust to the cultural differences among them.  However, as team members learn to interact with each other, despite their different backgrounds, performance differences should disappear (Watson, et al., 1993).

 

 

 

Trust

 

 

 

Trust on a virtual environment is critical for the success of a project (Javenpaa, et al., 1998).  Studies on the sustainability of virtual collaboration suggest that trust is critical to ensuring the optimal use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to support the exchange among business partners (Bandow, 1998). It is also evident from the previous studies on ICT, trust and collaboration that understanding of social systems in which individuals, groups or organizations operate is a powerful mechanism for the development and sustainability of trust in an on-line or virtual environment (Hossain, et al., 2002).  One of the best ways to create this trust is a face-to-face encounter, although other alternatives also exist.

 

 

 

Project Team Knowledge And Cross-Team Collaboration

 

 

 

The most valuable asset of any IT organization is the collective knowledge of its staff. One of the greatest risks of using a virtual project team is loss of this collective knowledge.  Since most virtual teams use contractors and/or offshore outsourcing, a knowledge-based approach must be implemented as a way of effectively capturing their applications and technical knowledge.  A project infrastructure providing knowledge-base capability will allow team members to collaborate on and share source code, articles, lessons learned, tips & tricks, procedures, sample deliverables and other project artifacts.  If coupled with a powerful search and retrieval engine, this capability will provide great payback on future projects.

 

 

 

Best Practices

 

 

 

 

 

       
   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 & 2 – Factor Reinforcing Model for VPM

 

(Iqbal, et al., 2005)

 

 

 

After having analyzed the survey data from a number of software houses in Pakistan, the seven propositions outlined to authenticate factor reinforcing model for virtual project management was confirmed. Each proposition did come up with a number of observations but this paper is focused on the net result and therefore only the extracted best practices are listed below:-

 

 

 

  • Members in a distributed project management environments often have expertise in a specific area, so there is a great need for knowledge sharing via effective communication and knowledge management techniques.
  • Initial face-to-face communication is an essential prerequisite in establishing higher levels of trust and motivation among mangers working from geographically dispersed locations.
  • Managers or team leaders must play as a communication bridge between the two developers of virtual teams in order to minimize conflict.
  • A single communication point is a must to avoid redundancy and conflict.
  • For effective communication, the appropriate use of telephones, video-conferencing and face-to-face meetings should be considered essential.
  • Clear ownership, roles and responsibilities are essential.  Leaders should play an effective role to implement these processes.

 

                                                                             

 

Conclusion

 

 

 

This paper provides a deeper understanding of the significant teamwork issues of global virtual teams in offshore IT projects.  The model proposed through our research findings was validated and it concludes that various elements of virtual project management reinforce one another to produce effective or non-effective virtual project management.

 

The study yields interesting best practices that can help organizations to manage their global virtual team projects more effectively in the context of developing countries.  Different forms of virtual projects have become more widespread, as a result of the increasing focus on globalization and organizational flexibility.  Therefore, a framework for working virtually in offshore IT projects is essential.  Many of the processes, which exist informally in a physical environment, need to be formalized in a virtual one, as the potential for tasks to get done by chance is significantly reduced.  It is expected that this paper will invoke interest in outsourcing to less developed countries in Asia like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Alexander, S. (2000) Virtual Teams Going Global, InfoWorld, available at http://www.infoworld.com/articles/ca/xml/00/11/13/001113cavirtual.xml, November 2000.

 

Allen, T. J., (1977) Managing the Flow of Technology - Technology Transfer and the Dissemination of Technological Information within the R&D Organization, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977.

 

Bandow, D., (1998) Working with the Borg: Trust, systems development and dispersed work groups, Proceedings of the Conference on Computer Personnel Research, pp.163-169, 1998.

 

Benett, G., (2001) Working Together, Apart Intranet Journal, available at http://www.intranetjournal.com/features/idm0398-pm1.shtml

 

Brimson, J. A. & John A., (1999) Driving Value Using Activity Based Budgeting, New York: John Wiley & Sons, NY 1999

 

Brimson, J. A. & John A., (1994) Activity Based Management for Service Industries, Government Entities, and Nonprofit Organizations, New York: John Wiley & Sons, NY 1994

 

Brimson, J. A. & John A., (1991) Activity Accounting, New York: John Wiley & Sons, NY 1991

 

Cantu, C., (1997) Virtual Teams, CSWT Papers, Center for the Study of Work Teams, University of North Texas, 1997, available at http://www.workteams.unt.edu/reports/Cantu.html

 

Carmel, E. (1999) Global Software Teams: Collaborating Across Borders and Time Zones. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

 

Davis, C. E., Elizabeth B. D., & Lee Ann Moore (1998), Outsourcing Procurement-Through-Payables Process, Management Accounting, July 1998, p. 45.

 

DeMeyer, A., (1991) Tech Talk:  How Managers Are Stimulating Global R&D Communication, Sloan Management Review (32), pp. 49-59, 1991.

 

DeSanctis, G., and Poole, M. S.  (1997) Transitions in Teamwork in New Organizational Forms, Advances in Group Processes (14), pp. 157-176, 1997

 

Drtina, Ralph, (1994) The Outsourcing Decision, Management Accounting, March 1994, p. 56.

 

Duarte, D. L. Snyder, N. T., (2001) Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies, Tools, and Techniques That Succeed”, Jossey Bass, 2001.

 

Dube, L., Pare, G., (2001) Global Virtual Teams, Communications of the ACM, vol. 44, no. 12, pp. 71-73, 2001

 

Ellram, L., Corey, B., (2001), Purchasing leverage considerations in the outsourcing decision. European Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, 7, pp.15-27

 

Evaristo, J.R. (2001) Non-consensual Negotiation in Distributed Collaboration, Communications of the ACM, pp. 89, 2001

 

Evaristo, J.R. (2000) The Management of Distributed Projects Across Cultures, Proceedings of the BITWORLD, Cairo, Egypt, 2000.

 

Gelegher, J., Kraut, R. E. (1994) Computer-Mediated Communication for Intellectual Teamwork:  An Experiment in Group Writing, Information Systems Research (5), pp. 110-138, 1994.

 

Greaver, M., (1999) Strategic Outsourcing, New York: Amacom, NY 1999

 

Griffiths, D., (1999) The Theory and Practice of Outsourcing, Kudos Information Ltd

 

Harris, T. E., (1993) Applied Organizational Communication: Perspectives, Principles, and Pragmatics. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1993

 

Hossain, L., & Wigand, R. T., (2002) Towards a social exchange perspective for e-business management, Manuscript submitted for publication, 2002.

 

Gorton, I., Motwani, S., (1996) Issue in co-operative software engineering using globally distributed teams. Information and Software Technology, vol. 38, pp. 647-655, 1996.

 

Iqbal, S., Nauman, S., (2005a) Challenges of Virtual Project Management in Developing Countries, IEEE International Engineering Management Conference 2005, St. Jones, NewFoundland, 11-13 Sep 2005

 

Iqbal, S., Nauman, S., Elahi, M., (2005b) Role of Empowerment in Uplifting an Organization’s Excellence in Less Developed Countries (LDC), IEEE International Engineering Management Conference 2005, St. Jones, NewFoundland, 11-13 Sep 2005

 

Isaacs, N., (1999) Call in the outsourcers, INFOWORLD, May 17, 1999

 

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Posted on: August 21, 2015 12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Creative Maturity - Resolving the Organizational Maturity Conflict

Creative Maturity - Resolving the Organizational Maturity Conflict

 

Suhail Iqbal

 

CEO, SysComp International (Pvt.) Ltd.

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

 

 

 

With OPM3 breaking away from the conventional bounds of maturity models, a new dimension has been added to the stereo-typed but simplistic approach of CMMI. New maturity models coming up in various areas tend to incline towards either of the two approaches but there still remains a lot of un-chartered territory needing exploration. This paper will indicate the design approach to the conflict of organizational maturity. Last year at PMI Global Congress Asia Pacific 2005, it was agreed during the discussion after my paper presentation “A Unified Strategic View of Organizational Maturity”, that there is a need for SEI and PMI to sit together to come up with an organizational maturity model. Both approaches being unique but diverse, and only looks at organizational maturity from respective perspective of Quality or Project Management. PMI has taken a leap forward by touching on the delicate subject of organizational maturity but it still remains widely Project Management biased. Creative Maturity at Organizational level would not be a compromise but an altogether a new design with all maturity models forming bodies as its stakeholders. If all such bodies can take a Top-Down view of Organizational Maturity and stop finding their way up, it is assured that we will not only have a holistic view of the whole thing but will also be able to remove biases. It would definitely not be possible for various maturity models to agree on one standard organizational maturity model and therefore a third party will have to be introduced to help them design it. If we keep going the way we are going, we will never be able to break free of the boxed approach we are bound to follow as it seems the only logical way. We need to innovate and think creatively to invent the concept of Creative Maturity for Organizations.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

 

Existence of conflict is normal and natural. Sometimes it may not be dominantly visible but the simmering effect can be felt by observing market forces. As highlighted in an earlier paper (Iqbal, S., 2005), there are currently over 40 maturity models in market bracketed by CMMI on one end and OPM3 on other. Both approaches being different, all maturity models are either trying to imitate CMMI or developing multi-dimensional models like OPM3. An organization trying to catch up with quality on one end and project management on other, finds it hard to believe which model is giving the correct assessment of maturity. Other maturity models addressing important areas like Risk and Human Resources also pose a similar threat to the organization. Each of these models is logically perfect addressing its domain area but at organizational level, there is a need to have a holistic view considering all important players in maturity. This maturity conflict needs to be resolved in a creative way, not by compromise or consensus, but by designing our way out of the conflict. This paper will highlight ways to resolving this conflict by design approach by bringing all stakeholders on one table with a third party overseeing and designing the all-acceptable Organizational Maturity Model. It is anticipated that with this design approach to conflict resolution, we will be able to bring up the concept of Creative Maturity and come up with a perfect Organizational Maturity Model. This issue is not classically academic but more down to earth as we will have to break free of the conventional norms of vertical thinking and will have to think laterally or even in parallel.

 

 

 

Learning Objectives

 

 

 

  • Realize the vast gap in the various maturity models available in market and feel the need to resolve this organizational maturity conflict.
  • Understand the need for design approach over compromise and consensus and be introduced to various design approaches to organizational maturity.
  • Be able to understand Creative Maturity and a need for an Organizational Maturity Model.

 

 

 

Creative Maturity and Conflict

 

 

 

Creative Maturity

 

 

 

Age and maturity brings in a new level of passion, ability and insight for creative expression. Although some areas that depend on physical performance, or accumulating and processing vast amounts of information, may become less easy or available, many creative endeavors flourish with increasingly varied life experience and the kind of vitality adult development can nurture (Eby, Douglas. 2005). Organizations mature with time and measurement tools like maturity models help them shape up and mature better and earlier, learning for the best practices in the marketplace. A young organization may feel satisfied by a single maturity model but with time the realization of looking at various other aspects of organizational maturity may highlight the need to try out other maturity models. This is the time when conflict arises and the organization in question is unable to make a sane decision. To help resolve this conflict, a creative approach to conflict resolution amongst various maturity models is suggested in this paper.

 

 

 

Innovation and Creativity

 

 

 

Before we can discuss creativity, let us first see how we can differentiate and relate innovation and creativity.  In 20th century, the well-known economist Schumpeter ([1912] 1934), described innovation as the creation of new combinations. These new combinations can be a new product, a new technology for an existing application, a new application of a technology, the development or opening of new markets, or the introduction of new organizational forms or strategies to improve results. An important innovation need not always be the result of a spectacular new technology is demonstrated by the fact that it was a distribution innovation, namely the introduction of the container (Rosenberg 2001), that led to the greatest cost reduction in the transport sector. Innovation processes that go beyond the individual company are also called institutional or system innovations.

 

 

 

Cerami, Joseph R. (2000), quotes Prather, Gundry and Humphery to define the difference between Innovation and Creativity. Prather and Gundry define innovation as the implementation of viable business ideas that result from an organization's creativity-supporting culture and structures (Prather and Gundry, 1995, p. 12). Organization theorist and engineer Watts Humphrey also views innovation from a whole-system perspective. He distinguishes between creativity and innovation (Humphrey, 1997, p. 137). For Humphrey, creativity is thinking up new things -- innovation is doing new things or turning a new idea into a business success. In Humphrey's conception, the role of innovation is to economically couple creative technology to the needs of the marketplace. Thus, innovation is viewed as a process that occurs in each phase of production -- from research and development, through projects and program development, through manufacturing, to marketing. Prather and Gundry also present innovation as a journey, or process, that proceeds in stages from market and customer-based needs assessments, to idea generation, project development, and production, or new product launch (Prather and Gundry, 1995, p. 86).

 

 

 

Conflicts, Conflict Resolution and De-Confliction

 

 

 

In political terms, "conflict" refers to an ongoing state of hostility between two groups of people. Conflict as taught for graduate and professional work in conflict resolution commonly has the definition: "when two or more parties, with perceived incompatible goals, seek to undermine each other's goal-seeking capability". Edward de Bono (1990) explains the conflict as a clash of interests, values, actions or directions. According to him conflict refers to the existence of that clash.

 

 

 

Conflict resolution is the process of resolving a dispute or a conflict, by providing each side's needs, and adequately addressing their interests so that they are satisfied with the outcome. Conflict resolution aims to end conflicts before they start or lead to physical fighting. Resolution methods can include conciliation, mediation, arbitration or litigation.

 

Edward de Bono (1990) introduces a new term “De-Confliction”. Where Confliction is the process of setting up, promoting, encouraging and designing conflict, de-confliction refers to the designing away or dissipation of the basis for the conflict. De-confliction does not refer to negotiation or bargaining or even to the resolution of conflicts, it is the effort required to evaporate a conflict.

 

 

 

Gaps in Various Maturity Models

 

 

 

Agree to Disagree

 

 

 

To agree to disagree is used (particularly in North America) to describe remaining friendly while holding differing opinions. As such, it is a misleading phrase: it would be better stated as recognizing that they disagree. There are some circumstances, such as in a democracy, where a conscious decision to agree to disagree may be desirable, thus enabling important issues to be exposed to others who need to consider them for themselves.

 

 

 

Maturity Models pose a very interesting scenario. With the inclusion of few new maturity models like Knowledge Management Maturity Model (K3M) (WisdomSource, 2004), and Organizational Interoperability Maturity Model for C2 (Command and Control), the list of maturity models (Iqbal, S, 2005) extends to over 40. None of the maturity models defy other models but each presents a separate approach to measuring and improving an organization’s maturity. Where most of the maturity models follow the CMMI layered approach, some maturity models have come up with three dimensional approach, similar to OPM3. The best part is that each of these maturity models is tapping its own market and they never try to contradict each other, but still offer a different solution to organizations. Essentially, we can observe that the developers of these maturity models have agreed to disagree.

 

 

 

The Two Extremes

 

 

 

Where CMMI offers a layered approach, OPM3 came up with a three-dimensional approach. Both of these maturity models are widely used and have been very successful in their own right. CMMI addresses project management in its own way and OPM3 touches upon the process capability and quality from project management perspective. If we try to use them together as suggested by Tom Keuten (2005), we probably will be going for a lose-lose scenario of conflict resolution, in which both maturity models will probably have to sacrifice something to gain consensus. Using Edward de Bono’s (1990) approach of designing our way out of conflict, we would rather be working towards a win-win scenario.

 

 

 

The CMMI has been criticized for being overly bureaucratic and for promoting process over substance. In particular, for emphasizing predictability over service provided to end users. More commercially successful methodologies have focused not on the capability of the organization to produce software to satisfy some other organization or a collectively-produced specification, but on the capability of organizations to satisfy specific end user "use cases".

 

The CMMI's division into six levels has also been criticized in that it ignores the possibility that a single group may exhibit all of the behaviors and may change from behavior to behavior over time. There is also the implication that a group must move from step to step and that it is impossible for a project group to move from one to five without going through intermediate steps.

 

 

 

OPM3 splits the broad concept of organizational project management into three domains - project management, program management, and portfolio management. On the other two axis, we have the five process groups and SMCI – Standardize, Measure, Control, Improve. Model components include best practices, capabilities, outcomes and key performance indicators. (Keuten, T., 2005)

 

 

 

Why Design Approach?

 

 

 

The usual negotiating methods in the West are compromise and consensus. Compromise suggests that both sides give up something in order to gain something, and Consensus means staying with that part of the proposal on which everyone is agreed - the lowest common denominator. Edward de Bono puts forward an approach that involves making a map of the conflict 'terrain' and then using lateral thinking to generate alternative solutions. There are only three roads to conflict resolution: fight/litigate, negotiate/bargain and design a solution. The design approach demands looking at the situation from the viewpoint of the third party. This third party is neither judge nor negotiator but a creative designer.

 

 

 

Designing out of Organizational Maturity Conflict

 

 

 

Conflict Factors

 

 

 

The four conflict factors analyzed by Dr. Edward de Bono (1990) are Fear, Force, Fair and Funds. We will try to apply these factors to the Organizational Maturity conflict as to see if it is possible to design our way out of this conflict. Considering CMMI and OPM3 again, we find that CMMI was developed by the initiative of public sector whereas OPM3 was a completely volunteer effort organized by PMI. We are referring to only these two standards, being symbolically variant and bracketing all other maturity models on a continuum.

 

 

 

When CMM was first introduced, it was only meant for the software industry and did not cater for other aspects like human resource, project management and the likes. Later, fear of being overrun by new maturity models addressing other areas, caused SEI to introduce P-CMM and project management section in CMMI. Each of the maturity model is trying its level best to keep its uniqueness which is vital for its existence in the market.

 

 

 

SEI played the role of innovator in maturity models, being first to introduce CMM. Having patronage from the government and a wide customer base already in the IT industry, they were able to force their maturity model. Now the force is being interrupted by opportunities to introducing new trends in organizational maturity.

 

 

 

Here the third conflict factor, fair, comes into play. Other maturity models think it unfair for organizations not being able to consider other areas of organizational maturity and therefore introduced new models. Peer pressure and public opinion plays a great role in ascertaining the fairness of the situation. Organizations need to realize that they need a top-down view of their maturity rather than addressing any one of the aspects.

 

 

 

Lastly funds, the last conflict factor, brings to light the cost of the conflict. Currently, it seems there is no conflict as the cost of conflict has not escalated to that level where an aggressive competition starts amongst various maturity models.

 

 

 

Existing Conflict Resolution Structures

 

 

 

It must be noted that the existing structures for resolution of this organizational maturity conflict may not be sufficient. Firstly, it would be next to impossible to bring all the 40+ maturity models on one table for consensus or compromise, because they are not even ready to recognize the existence of any conflict as yet. Moreover, even if we can get them together, it will still not solve the problem as we will either be targeting a win-lose or a lose-lose scenario. Currently it might be in the interest of most of the parties to prolong the conflict and see who survives the conflict. The one affected by the existence of these maturity models is the organization which is continuously juggling with one model or the other. So far there is no realization of developing a peer pressure or market demand for a single maturity model which can look at all aspects of an organization’s maturity. It is not going to be long when this realization will take root and developers of maturity models will have to sit together to find a solution.

 

 

 

The point which has to be brought up here is that these structures will not be sufficient to find a win-win solution to the problem and there will be a need to design a way out of this conflict. This won’t be possible without the intervention of a neutral party which will not resolve the issue but design the conflict exit.

 

 

 

Design Methodology

 

 

 

We are taking on a difficult job of trying to proactively design a solution mechanism for a problem which has by itself yet not surfaced and has never been realized as a problem as such. The very step is to highlight it as a problem and then to recognize it as a potent conflict situation needing to be resolved. This will require aggressive and active surveying of market data and use of numerous statistical tools. Even if we are successful in realizing it as a problem, we still need to wait for the problem to boil to the level where it needs to be resolved. As we are taking the proactive approach, we will simulate the problem escalation process and will try to visualize the situation when we need to resolve it.

 

 

 

As sufficiently explained earlier, we cannot go for a compromise or even a consensus as none of these approaches would get us into a win-win situation. We need to have an independent third party, not for conflict resolution but designing our way out of the conflict. Before we can start identifying the third party, we still have a problem identifying the key players in this conflict. We have developers of maturity models and user organizations as the main parties in conflict. The complication is that even these two parties do not have any consensus amongst themselves. Before we can start working on design approach, we first need to resolve the conflict amongst the various maturity models. The other player, user organization, may be simpler to handle as the conflict here is more logical to understand and they can easily be categorized according to size, industry or their need. So we can have several parts to this design, de-confliction of maturity model developers, categorization of maturity models, and then designing the overall solution for the whole industry.

 

 

 

The approach to the overall solution can be much simpler but very rigorous. The key to design would be a top-down approach rather than a bottom-up approach currently being exercised by various maturity models. It is understood that any maturity model before getting developed is thoroughly study for prevalent standards and maturity models in vogue. The only difference between the analysis carried out by a single developer and the third party we are suggesting, would be the impartiality. The survey and analysis in our design approach would be much more thorough and elaborate, consequently resulting in an impartial solution for organizational maturity.

 

 

 

Now coming to the question of an impartial third party and it’s role, we may consider the approach CMM and OPM3 has taken. Where CMM was catalyzed by Government intervention, OPM3 was a completely volunteer effort. Both approaches being poles apart, carry their own individual benefits. Going by the definition of standards and regulations as described in A Guide to PMBOK 3rd Edition (2003) and OPM3 Knowledge Foundation (2003), a maturity model is supposed to be a standard and must be developed by consensus by the industry itself. To enforce this standard, we may later require Government support. It is therefore apparent that Government cannot play an effective role as third party here. The only option left is an independent and impartial body of volunteers dedicated to organization standard making.

 

 

 

It is suggested to form an independent volunteer body with volunteers from user organizations and various developers of maturity models. This body has to be completely impartial and must act as a unit, a third party which will actively participate to design the solution while working with the two main parties, the maturity model developers and user organizations. Expertise of creative thinkers can be sought in this third party to make it more effective and to make it remain impartial.

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

 

This paper may seem to be focusing on a far-fetched idea which may not be very pressing at the moment but it is going to be a major issue for organizations in near future. An organization already evaluated for maturity by CMM may be considering other maturity models cynically, but will eventually see benefits of other maturity models and will somehow try to get measurements from other models as well. What if this organization can have a single platform for measuring organizational maturity. The design approach suggested in this paper is opening a new door towards the concept of Creative Maturity. Further research is being carried out to relate individual competencies with the maturity of organizations and creativity tools are being used to strengthen this relationship. Once the concept is well understood, research can enter survey phase for more analytical work as the current status is more focused to concept formulation.

 

 

 

References

 

 

 

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Posted on: August 21, 2015 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

A Unified Strategic View of Organizational Maturity

 

 

 

A Unified Strategic View of Organizational Maturity

 

Suhail Iqbal

 

CEO, SysComp International (Pvt.) Ltd.

 

 

 

Abstract

 

 

 

Different stakeholders view the maturity of an organization from different perspectives. Those focusing on "quality" refer to the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), others, focusing on "process" refer to the Process Maturity Model (PMM), last, but not the least, the project community proposes both the Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM) and the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3). To this day, all approaches fail to provide an acceptable shared definition of maturity and literature is yet to propose a comprehensive approach which is much needed for practical applications at strategic organizational levels. The object of this research is threefold. First, it reviews the literature to find synergies amongst different organizational maturity models in order to propose a common definition. A second goal is to use the common key concepts to formulate a uniform standard of organizational maturity. The longer term goal is to alleviate the theoretical shortcomings that have prevented the development of a more generally accepted organizational maturity model. 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

 

Ludden, P., (2004) quotes the definition of maturity from Random House Dictionary as “full development or       perfected condition”. When somebody is not fully developed or in perfect condition, anything which can be achieved seems like increased maturity and we tend to gauge various levels of maturity with different methods. An organization is a living entity like a human being. It has a lifespan, and it must grow over a period of time. It has to learn from its mistakes or it seeks lessons from other’s mistakes or best practices. All organizations are at some stage of maturity striving to attain perfection. So considering their present state of maturity we can say their journey forward to perfection is a step further towards achieving maturity. We usually forget that there must have been some limit to maturity. There must be an optimum level for an organization beyond which it cannot grow anymore and thus cannot mature any further, or it will fall like an over-ripe fruit. This is discussed briefly towards the end of this paper and gives us all a food for thought to put some limits to an un-ending enthusiasm towards maturity.

 

 

 

Whenever maturity of an organization is under discussion, different people view it from different points of view. Where people inclined towards quality will refer to Capability Maturity Model (CMM), people focused on process will be talking about Process Maturity Model (PMM), and yet project managers look at it from Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM) and Organization Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) perspective. All of these people are talking about a maturity model but none have formulated a universally acceptable definition of maturity as such. From strategic point of view, if we can combine all these view points and try to find how an organization really matures, we probably will be able to find the most appropriate maturity model. The object of this paper is not to propose yet another maturity model but to find synergies amongst several viewpoints on organizational maturity and to answer the question "HOW DOES AN ORGANIZATION MATURE AND WHY?" If this question is well-responded after this study, we can start working towards the next question "HOW CAN WE FIND A COMMON STANDARD FOR ORGANIZATIONAL MATURITY?" Future direction from this study would be to formulate a universally accepted ORGANZATIONAL MATURITY MODEL.

 

 

 

Plethora of Maturity Models

 

 

 

CMM: From where it all started

 

 

 

CMM was the pioneer of Maturity Models developed by SEI for software engineering (Paulk M. C., 1995). Later SEI came up with CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integrated) and P-CMM (People Capability Maturity Model). CMM model is only concerned about the software processes and tries to develop mechanism to bring perfection to these processes. It has five levels namely initial, repeatable, defined, managed and optimizing, each level having its own key process areas (KPAs) identifying issues that must be addressed to achieve a maturity level. (Ludden, P., 2004) CMM levels are broadly accepted in software industry and almost all maturity models are trying to copy the same leveling mechanism in one way or the other. It is clearly imminent by the wide use and success of CMM in software industry that it does serve to improve quality but the problem is, that the base on which it was designed came from software industry and it hinges only on software processes. Just as CMM was becoming so popular and whole industry was eyeing software industry with anguish for having CMM, SEI released a generalized version namely CMMI. Though the levels are the same but the processes have been slightly amended to remove the bias on software processes. It still serves to improve the quality which though is extremely useful but misses the point to having Organizational Maturity because quality or processes are not the only ingredients contributing towards an organization’s maturity. Later P-CMM was introduced which was more oriented towards Human Resource capability improvement and thus was again addressing a specific view. Similarly a plethora of maturity models were released most of which were software specific.

 

 

 

Existing Maturity Models

 

 

 

Ludden, P., (2004) opines that CMM has been reused for the development of many other maturity models in many fields including project management. According to Cooke et al, (2001), to date there are estimated to be over 30 maturity models currently serving the market place. Rosenstock et al (2000) listed 23 capability maturity model resources that covered quality and project management. Currently there are approximately 40 different Maturity Models in circulation and each addresses a specific aspect of the organization. The list has been taken from Copeland (2003) and have since been updated to specially highlight nine maturity models related to project management. It follows:-

 

 

 

  1. Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) 
  2. Capability Maturity Model for Software (SW-CMM) 
  3. People Capability Maturity Model (P-CMM) 
  4. Software Acquisition Capability Maturity Model (SA-CMM) 
  5. Software Engineering Capability Maturity Model (SE-CMM) 
  6. Integrated Product Development Capability Maturity Model (IPD-CMM) 
  7. IT Service Capability Maturity Model (IT Service CMM) 
  8. Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) 
  9. Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM) by Harold Kerzner
  10. Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM) by Jim K. Crawford
  11. Cultural Project Management Effectiveness Model (CPMEM) by PMGS
  12. PM2 Maturity Model 
  13. Project Management Process Maturity Model (PM)2M 
  14. Programme Management Maturity Model 
  15. Project Risk Maturity Model (RMM)
  16. Earned Value Management Maturity Model (EVM3) 
  17. Broccoli Maturity Model 
  18. Services Maturity Model 
  19. Self-Assessment Maturity Model (SAMM) 
  20. Testing Maturity Model (TMM) 
  21. Web Services Maturity Model 
  22. Security Maturity Model (SMM) 
  23. Operations Maturity Model 
  24. e-Learning Maturity Model 
  25. eGovernment Maturity Model 
  26. Outsourcing Management Maturity Model 
  27. Change Proficiency Maturity Model 
  28. Performance Engineering Maturity Model 
  29. IT Architecture Maturity Model 
  30. Information Process Maturity Model 
  31. Learning Management Maturity Model (LM3) 
  32. Automated Software Testing Maturity Model 
  33. Website Maturity Model 
  34. Internet Maturity Model 
  35. Usability Maturity Model 
  36. Software Reliability Engineering Maturity Model 
  37. System Security Engineering Capability Maturity Model 
  38. Configuration Management Maturity Model 

 

 

 

Project Management maturity models

 

 

 

With the strong realization of the budding discipline of Project Management, a new understanding was developed which was of establishing a linkage between strategies of an organization to its projects. This was very romantic in the sense that all changes in an organization can actually be brought either through strategy or projects. CMMI was addressing only processes without specifying whether the processes are operational or project related. Generally it was assumed that it applies to all processes. But the interesting point here is that an operational process tested for maturity, if needs improvement, must go through a change process which leads to a project. Quality has an equally important role in project management and even CMMI can very smoothly apply to it but there was a need for some further deliberation. With opening of this new line of thinking, a number of project management maturity models were suggested, used and tested but it opened up another unending list of maturity models, this time related to project management. Project Management has its own level of development in an organization like projects, programs and portfolios, which also are indicative of some level of maturity.

 

 

 

Where Peterson (2000) sees project management maturity model as a logical framework that defines different levels of project management capability, Hillson (2001) being a Risk Management expert, views it as providing a structured route to excellence in project management. Kerzner (2001, p41) who is more into strategic planning and its relation with project management, states the model should assist companies in performing strategic planning for projects. Johnston (2003) also supports the Kerzner’s view of strategic planning by highlighting that firms are recognizing the value of establishing measurements and indicators that provide a perspective on overall performance against strategic objectives. It is generally agreed that Project management maturity models must provide an assessment framework that enables an organization to compare its project delivery with best practice or against its competitors (Hillson, 2001). PMI’s OPM3 (Organizational Project Management Maturity Model) is the latest addition to the list of maturity models and it is much more attractive as it starts with addressing the organization and not the projects. Moreover its maturity model is also very interesting as it is not in conventional layers but in a three-dimensional model. The three dimensions are processes, domains and stages where processes include all the five process groups of project management i.e., initiating, planning, execution, controlling and closing. Domains are projects, programs and portfolios and Stages are standardize, measure, control and continuously improve. OPM3 is a major leap in project management maturity models but it makes the whole thing way too complex and Kerzner’s PMMM seems comparatively simpler to implement. Again the focus is on the domains which are all project related.

 

 

 

Organizational Maturity

 

 

 

Strategic View

 

 

 

Looking at the progress made so far on the various maturity models and specially those related to project management, it is observed that there always was an awareness of the organizational strategy in all the models so far evolved, but due to the inclination of these well-noted and respected authors towards project management, they have dragged everything to the sphere of project management and organizational maturity is still not the main focus. OPM3 is probably the only model which starts addressing the organizational aspects but it still remains pre-dominantly project oriented. All maturity models look at the organization from their window of choice and pamper their own area of interest more than any other, gradually building a strategic justification for their respective maturity model.  It is agreed that, whether the focus is on quality, people, or projects, it is definitely going to contribute positively to overall maturity of the organization. It is also agreed that if all these maturity models are analyzed and somehow tailored together, it will still be a positive contribution. But the question is, have organizational maturity even been considered in isolation? The maturity of an organization is a very broad issue and must be addressed top-down rather than evolving it in bottom-up fashion. Bottom-up will definitely miss out some very important strategic ingredients which will let this never-ending evolution continue forever.

 

 

 

From Learning Organization to Learning Maturity

 

 

 

Learning Organizations

 

To find a solution to this problem, we have to take a unified strategic view of organizational maturity. This probably will not be possible without an intimate knowledge of organizational behavior, which to some extent has already been taken care of, in developing several of these maturity models. Senge, P (1990, 1994) introduced five learning disciplines at the core of Learning Organization namely, Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Shared Vision, Team Learning and Systems Thinking. It has also been repeatedly reported that organizations seriously committed to quality management are uniquely prepared to study the “learning disciplines” (Senge, P., 1994, 10). Strategic thinking starts with reflection on the deepest nature of an undertaking and on the central challenges it poses.

 

Projects and Strategy

 

Project management has an edge here as Project management becomes the way to implement corporate strategy (Turner 1993; Frame 1994). Projects, being the catalyst for change, are instrumental in realizing the strategic objectives of an organization. "Projects are undertaken to add value to the sponsoring organization. In the private sector this ultimately means increasing the value of shares to the holders of equity in the company." But performance also comes from the maturity of an organization to deal with projects, especially through the aspects of learning. (Bredillet, C, 2003). He proposes a method in his design for a lifelong learning model, in which he discusses two dimensions, individual/organizational dimension and synchronic/diachronic dimension. Some development including knowledge management and measurement of performance is based on Bontis (1999) as shown in exhibit I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click To expand

 

 

 

Exhibit 1 – Four Fields of Knowledge Management in Two Dimensions

 

(Bredillet, C., 2003;  Bontis, N, 1999)

 

 

 

Exhibit I serves to portray that highest level of input at organizational level is organizational learning where maturity models are placed at a lower tier with more orientation towards diachronic dimension. As we are discussing organizational maturity here, we will not focus on the individual dimension but the organizational dimension alone. OPM3 bases its three-dimensional model more on the best practices and thus performance is measured in relation to the model evolved from these best practices. We can see that Best Practices lie more on Synchronic dimension and are at much lower tier on organizational hierarchy. The second dimension of OPM3 catering Projects, Programs and Portfolios, does show an inclination towards organizational learning but this aspect is not very well emphasized. The next revision of OPM3 scheduled to be released in 2007 is expected to further improve the model and make it more organizational.

 

 

 

Learning Maturity

 

 

 

Learning maturity is applicable when subjects use external structures (i.e., technologies) in new and novel ways to perform behaviors that were previously unattainable. (Templeton, G. F., 2004). Organizations, as explained earlier, are living organisms, and like IQ and EQ in human beings, Templeton G. F., (2004) proposes a model (Exhibit 2) of effective intelligence for learning organizations, which is a summation of technological intelligence and natural intelligence. Learning maturity, according to him, contributes directly to technological intelligence.

 

 

 

 

 

Click To expand

 

 

 

Exhibit 2 – Proposed Model of Effective Intelligence

 

(Templeton, G. F., 2004)

 

 

 

An organization needs to accumulate use-development experience and have access to technology to learn maturity, thus increasing it technological intelligence and subsequently effective intelligence. This contribution to the learning organization may not be apparently visible as the maturity is diachronic and will yield results in long run. Only if organizations can focus on the learning processes, they can actually work towards their maturity. All maturity models can only serve to provide them a mean for measurement of their performance. Even after understanding the importance of having a unified strategic view of organizational maturity, the learning organization and learning maturity, we have only reached a state of common understanding that none of the existing maturity models serve the organizational maturity as a whole.

 

 

 

How much Maturity?

 

 

 

Coming back to the very important question of how much maturity is required. This is something we forget to understand when we start growing up, we do not estimate how much we want to grow and how much maturity is suitable for us. Will it be fine for a child to be as mature as an adult? Definitely a child does not need to be as mature as an adult and thus the level of maturity is less. Similarly if an organization has limited strategic objectives and needs not to grow more than a specific limit, will any of these maturity models serve it well. It may improve its processes, its quality, its human resources, and even its project management skills, but for how long and how much? The size of organization plays an important role in its maturity and therefore a model which can adjust itself to the needs of an organization must be developed.

 

 

 

Moreover, we need to understand that all organizations and businesses have a definite span of life and like humans and projects they have to die one day. Continuous improvement is good motivator but an organization has to understand that improvement beyond its life span or beyond its strategic objectives is not desired. There is a need to explore this new area of research and find a well-suited organizational maturity model which can answer all these open question.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

 

This paper has highlighted and indicated a very important and missing research area which can change the shape of maturity models for the times to come. The need for bringing all the maturity models to the drawing board and consolidating their results to form an organizational maturity model may even not be enough and some creative and fresh thinking is required to identify all ingredients of Organizational Maturity. This also brings us to the realization that various organizations may have different maturity requirements and therefore the new organizational maturity model must address it appropriately. Currently a lot of useful research is going on in the field of Organizational Maturity but the irony is that, most of it is specific to a certain area and the spirit of organizational maturity is not being addressed as such.

 

 

 

References

 

 

 

Bontis, Nick. 1999. The Knowledge Toolbox: A Review of Tools Available to Measure and Manage Intangible Resources. European Management Journal 17 (4).

 

Bredillet, C. (2003) Proposition of a Systemic and Dynamic Model to Design Lifelong Learning Structure—The Quest of the Missing Link between Men, Team, and Organizational Learning,  Chapter 4 Retrieved from The Frontiers of Project Management Research, Jeffrey K. Pinto, David I. Cleland and Dennis P. Slevin (eds) (2003), Newtown Square: Project Management Institute

 

Cooke-Davies, T, J. Schlichter and C. Bredillet, (2001, November). Beyond the PMBOK® Guide, Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, 200, Nashville, TN

 

Frame, J. Davidson. (1994) The New Project Management: Tools for an Age of Rapid Change, Corporate Reengineering, and Other Business Realities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

 

Hillson, D., (2001, November), Benchmarking Organisational Project Management Capability, Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 1-10,2001

 

Johnston, R. (2003, Jan), Organisational Process Improvement- Project and Programme Management Maturity, Insight, 2003, p 7-9.

 

Kerzner, H., (2001), Strategic planning for project management using a project management maturity model, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley

 

Ludden, P., Coates. A., McGarry, S. (2004) OPM3™ in a CMM World – EDS Ireland’s (a CMMI3 organization) experience with OPM3™, Proceedings of the PMI Global Congress 2004 – Europe (Prague, Czech Republic)

 

Mullay, Mark E., (2001) So Who Needs Maturity Anyway?, Gantthead, http://www.gantthead.com/article.cfm?ID=74350 (Dec 5, 2001)

 

Paulk, M. C., CV Weber, B Curtis, MB Chrissis (1995), The Capability Maturity Model: Guidelines for Improving the Software Process. Pittsburgh, PA :SEI, Addison Wesley Longman Inc., 1995

 

Peterson, A.S., (2000, September), The Impact of PM Maturity on Integrated PM processes, Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, Houston, Texas, Sept. 7-16, 2000.

 

PMI A Guide to the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), (2000) Newtown Square: Project Management Institute

 

PMI Organisational Project Management Maturity Model – Knowledge Foundation (OPM3), (2003) Newtown Square: Project Management Institute

 

Rosenstock, C. , R.S. Johnston and L.M. Anderson, (2000, September), Maturity Model Implementation and Use: A Case Study, Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, Houston, Texas, September 7-16, 2000.

 

Senge, Peter M. (1990), The Fifth Discipline, the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. London: Doubleday/Currency.

 

Senge, Peter M. et al. (1994), The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

 

Stewart, J., (2004) Promoting Project Management Maturity with an Enterprise Project Management Methodology, Proceedings of the PMI Global Congress 2004 – North America (Anaheim, CA)

 

Templeton, Gary F. (2004) Proposition Learning Maturity: Incorporating Technological Influences in Individual and Organizational Learning Theory, Chapter 12 Retrieved from Creating Knowledge Based Organizations, Jatinder N. D. Gupta and Sushil K. Sharma (eds) (2004), Idea Group Publishing

 

Turner, J. Rodney. (1993), The Handbook of Project-Based Management. The Henley Management Series, London: McGraw-Hill.

 

 

 

Posted on: August 21, 2015 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
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