Keynotes and Speakers for ITx Rutherford
Eastern Institute of Technology
Kim Hagen-Hall is a senior lecturer in IT at EIT Hawkes Bay. Her research is in effective eLearning and education technology.
In a changing world, project management becomes more and more important for developing critical IT tools and applications. IT Practitioners and students need ways to effectively learn and evaluate different approaches to managing projects, in order to select the most effective approach in a particular situation.
This paper provides a critical application of the Scrum project management framework to an IT project that used a traditional project management approach, providing an applied comparison of the two approaches for IT practitioners interested in Scrum. It analyses Norway’s election modernization project in 2011, which aimed to improve speed, accuracy, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
Indra’s used a revised PMBOK methodology known as the Indra Project Management Methodology (IPMM) to manage this project. IPMM improved their approach on the project as it gave them a birds-eye view of the entire setting, something which their previous methodology was not able to do.
However, a number of issues were still exposed. Indra had problems satisfying stakeholders, the sudden surge of new resources had a potential impact to the timeline, team meetings were scattered and detached with one another, training and testing sessions were inefficient, and the mode of facilitating transparency was unreliable.
A number of these issues could be resolved by using practices from Scrum. The Sprint Review provides more freedom and transparency for stakeholders to share their thoughts and see actual progress; the Daily Scrum makes team meetings more open and involved; and Scrum in general could be a viable replacement for the project management approach due to its flexibility and adaptability, reduced costs, speeding up deliverables, and ultimately increasing the confidence level of the entire team. However, this does not mean that Scrum can readily take IPMM’s place as it requires adequate expertise by team members, does not involve clear scope definition, and does not include cost management.
Other project management approaches could also improve this project: Prince2’s strength in documentation, Kanban’s way of expanding visibility through the Kanban Board, Extreme Programming’s testing regulations, and Six Sigma’s DFSS methodology for early impact visualization are all plausible methods, potentially making the management of the project more robust, versatile, and ultimately improving the outcome for everyone involved.
This type of analysis is a useful learning approach in theory, as here, or in practice. Students with no IT project experience report a deeper understanding of real-world issues and how the methodologies might work – or not – in practice, and students who analyse projects that they have been involved in report valuable insights which can improve future project outcomes. Educator observations are that this sort of comparative analysis encourages closer consideration of the theoretical advantages and disadvantages of a specific methodology, which would also be valuable for practitioners considering a new approach, before organisational resources are committed.
This paper analysed the case study of the U.K. National Health Service system upgrade. During the literature review, various reasons for the failure of the project were identified including cultural aspects, the lack of stakeholder engagement, and time aspects. The International Project Management Association’s Individual Competence Baseline (ICB) was assessed as a tool for addressing these issues.
The ICB offers information that helps to prevent cultural issues by suggesting that the project manager needs to gain an understanding of the culture and values of the society in which the project takes place, before aligning all formal and informal culture differences within the project by writing down several documents. The ICB includes several chapters to help increase stakeholder engagement and productivity by making stakeholders fully aware of the objectives, processes, and the project, and by making them responsible for co-determining requirements and results and for describing the respective outcome. The ICB also addresses the time aspect by providing activities that include a definition of all required activities within a project which are necessary to deliver a project successfully. The schedule and the underlying phases, including deliverables, should then be drawn up. Once the planning of activities has been completed, the actual status should be regularly compared with the target status in order to be able to react to changes and problems.
The NPfIT project can offer valuable lessons for large-scale government and healthcare IT projects in New Zealand which have, in the past, suffered similar issues. The parts of the ICB outlined here would also help these projects and it offers a core set of competencies which can be applied on very large or very small projects and using a range of different methodologies, including Agile and traditional approaches.
In a New Zealand education context, an international case study such as this is a valuable tool for bringing global discussions into the New Zealand classroom. New Zealand has fewer large-scale IT projects but they offer important lessons for New Zealand students who may go on to lead both large and small projects, in New Zealand and around the world.