The Role of Project Manager for IS Project Success
Dr. Vicki Sauter
Technology makes things possible, people make things happen, is a general statement that reminds us that both technology and people have important roles to develop activities in the world. In information systems perspective, technology is represented by telecommunication network, hardware, and software. Those have been developed to support people or organizations to achieve their goals. However, those will not be useful if they cannot satisfy users' needs.
Information systems (IS) projects have been facing many challenges to succeed them. Success of IS projects are usually use the following measure of success (Nelson ,2005):
In the last decade, IS projects have wasted billions of dollar, and most of the project outcomes can not satisfy users' requirements and to fail on at least one measure of project success above. Those suggest that accomplishing of projects should consider needs to improve the management in the project to achieve success of the project.
Nelson (2005) states that "only 34%
of IT projects undertaken by Fortune 500 companies are completed
successfully". Standish Group (2007) also reports that 35 percent
of IS projects started in 2006 can be categorized as completed on time,
on budget, and meeting user requirements. Meanwhile, 46 percent of them
were categorized as challenge, and only 19 percent of the projects were
failures. Although the percentage of success project have increased
since 1994, however, IS projects still leaves challenge for IS project
managers to reach IS project success.
There are many reasons for IS project failure or success. The top five reasons for IS project failure are the following (Standing et al, 2006):
Meanwhile, according to The Standish Group International, Inc. report, the top ten reasons for IS project success that mean completions on time, on budget, and with promised functionality are the following :
Project Management Phases
Before lead IS project, a project manager should figure out what the methodology will be used in the project. This is important for a project manager to recognize it because an appropriate methodology can influence the project success.
A common methodology usually implemented in IS projects is systems development life cycle (SDLC). FFIEC defines systems development life cycle as "a project management technique that divides complex projects into smaller, more easily managed segments or phases". These segmentation will enable project managers to verify the successful completion of project phases before allocating resources to the next phases.
The SDLC is usually described by a circular process in which the end of the useful life of one system leads to the beginning of another project that will develop a new version or replace an existing system altogether.
The oldest model that was originally regarded as the SDLC is the waterfall model. Other models that exist in SDLC are Rapid Application Development (RAD), Joint Application Development (JAD), and Agile methodology.
General Skills of Project Manager
Generally, a project manager is
responsible for managing the project to meet the users' needs. He has
to have a set of skills such as management, leadership, technical,
conflict management, and customer relationship to support his jobs. He
also needs to recognize knowledge of what project management involves
and why it is so important. Those will make him able to be a role model
for his team members to follow. Otherwise, he will not be a real
project manager, but he looks like a project coordinator. Goundar
(2007) states that "the ideal project manager will value the
contribution of employees in many dimensions".
The Project manager also should be able to minimize conflict during working in projects. This can be done through the following techniques (Mehta, 2004):
Another important skill requirement
of a project manager is a project management capability. Luftman (2006)
states that "a project management capability is a top ten management
concern because of the increased emphasis on Project Management
Institute (PMI) certification". The increasing request of certification
presents that the project manager should have certificate of Project
Management Professional (PMP) to ensure his level of quality of the
project management capability.
There are two eligibility categories of candidates who qualify to be certified PMP. Those criteria are the following (IT toolbox Popular Q&A Team,2006):
The Role of IS Project Manager
Hoffer, George, and Valacich (2008) define an IS project manager as "a system analyst with a general set of skills who is responsible for initiating, planning, executing, and closing down a project". Smith III, Smarkusky, and Corrigall (2008) define processes of initiating, planning, executing, and closing in the table below.
During processes of the project, the project manager has to implement his roles to manage the project. Karlsen and Gottschalk (2006) divide the roles of IS project manager into six roles as the following:
Those six roles can be illustrated in the figure below.
In the project management processes, the project manager begins to implement his role in the project initiation. During project initiation, the project manager manages the team to develop a project charter and a preliminary project scope statement. The purpose of the project charter is (Wikipedia):
the project manager should use a project scope statement to make future
project decision, to develop and to confirm a common understanding of
project scope among the stakeholders. The project scope statement
should be well documented because it may need to be revised to reflect
changes to the scope of project. The online community for IT project
managers states that "a project scope statement can be represented by a
form to spell out the business need/problem, project objectives,
results, and content that will make up the project scope statement".
the project manager has to implement his roles by developing, planning
and definiting the scope of project, estimating cost, developing
schedules, creating work breakdown structure, and making risk analysis
during project planning. The purpose of project planning is to create a
project plan to track the progress of the project team. The project
manager should focus on those works to make sure that those will
lead the project toward users' requirements. Kutsch (2008) states that
"many IT projects fail because scope, cost and time objectives are not
met despite the existence of self-evident correct best practice project
According to Hoffer, George, and Valacich (2008), during developing and defining scope, the project manager should reach agreement on the following:
The project manager also has responsibility to develop a schedule of the project. The most popular techniques to develop a project schedule are the PERT diagram in network models and Gantt charts. Martin (1987) states that "both PERT diagram and Gantt charts techniques lack the critical element of project accountability". One technique that he offers to develop the project schedule is Project Accountability Chart (P.A.C). This method presents a dimension of who will do what, while also has most of the advantages of the Grant chart and the PERT diagram. P.A.C chart is represented by the figure below.
the project manager also has to make work breakdown structure (WBS) to
define delegating the project manager tasks to his team members. Rose
(2006) states that "the WBS helps to accomplish numerous critical steps
throughout the project processes".
Another important role during project planning is that the project
manager has to manage his team to make a project risk analysis. The
objectives of risk analysis are to minimize the probability and impact
of potential risks while maximizing the probability and impact of
potential opportunities. Kutsch (2008) states that "IS project managers
were unaware of risks and considered them to be outside their scope of
influence and preferred to let risks resolve themselves rather than
proactively engage them".
Tesch, Kloppenborg, and Frolick (2007) states that risk analysis processes for IS project include as the following:
the planning process is approved, the next task is the project manager
implements his roles in executing and controlling process. This process
is crucial process that directly relates to project progress and users'
requirements. Minor issues that are not noticed may cause major impact
on cost, schedule and risk and deviate the project from the planning
In the executing process, the project manager categorizes the actual work based on the tasks planned, and evaluates the comparison of the actual performance with the planned performance in controlling process to take appropriate improving action to get the project objecives . During this process, the project manager has roles as the following (Dillon,2003):
last process of the project is closing process. During this process,
the project manager should review once again whether or not the project
outcome meets users' requirements, project objectives, users'
satisfaction, on time, on budget, and promised functionality to
conclude the project success or failure.
Regardless of outcome of the project success or failure, the project manager must perform closing process to complete all of the project processes. According to Elyse (2006), the closing activities includes:
The IS project manager has
responsibilities for initiating, planning, executing, and closing down
an IS project. The six roles of the IS project manager are leader,
resource allocator, spokesman, entrepreneur, liaison, and monitor.
Those roles must be implemented in each phase of the project process to
ensure that the project completed on time, on budget, and with
promised functionally. He also needs to have a set of skills, such as
management, leadership, technical knowledge, conflict management, and
customer relations to support his jobs.