Project Management Practices; How Organizations Can Address Project Failure Factors

1.     Introduction

Many projects usually produce very disappointing results upon their completion. Some projects usually exceed the stipulated budget or even the intended time lines. The technology industry has the highest rates of project failure with over 50% of projects failing (Vakili, 2012). A project is deemed to have failed when it has not met the desired outcomes or objectives. Organisations usually invest in projects which ultimately offer low or no returns (Pet, 2005). Many organisations begin projects with a lot of enthusiasm and fail to take in to consideration the probability of failure occurring. Moreover, they fail to learn from previous project failures. Even simple projects are still prone to failure. It is difficult to define project failure or success based on one scenario since projects usually vary in size as well as in complexities. According to Vakili (2012), there is no common criteria for which project success or failure can be determined.  Project management defines project failure or success in terms of time, budget and quality (Muller, 2009).  According to Vakili (2012), project success can be defined in terms of micro and macro elements. The micro elements are composed of time, quality, performance, safety and cost. The other elements include customer satisfaction. Muller (2009) defines project success or failure in terms of profitability. Indeed, there are many factors that lead to project failure. This chapter highlights the aim of setting up this research, including the introduction of research topic chosen as well as the objectives of this research.

2.     Research Focus and Value

This dissertation will be beneficial to project managers who manage various projects, as they will be able to understand and determine factors which may lead to project failure and come up with measures to prevent project failure. This will help the project managers to develop effective project management practices. On the other hand, this research will be useful to organizations and other key stakeholders in addressing various factors which may result to project failure.

Although some studies have been conducted in the area of project management practices, they are more focus on a case study to specific project event. Thus, this research focus is more on general project management practise, regardless of specific industry mentioned. Many studies may appear to be more focused on the determinants of project success and less effort spent on identifying factors which may lead to project failure. This dissertation desires to provide the findings and solutions that would be useful in the implementation of strategies, in order to enhance success of the projects. The research information will also contribute to the existing body of knowledge on project management practices. This will serve as reference for future researchers and scholars in the field of project management.

3.     Research Aim

The aim of the research is to ascertain the factors that cause project failure. The research will also seek to ascertain the best measures that can be implemented to prevent project failure. Finally, the research will outline the best remedies that can be implemented in case of project failure.

4.     Research Objectives

The research dissertation intends to achieve following objectives:

  • To ascertain the most effective project management practices.
  • To determine the factors that lead to project failure.
  • To determine what measures can be done to prevent project failure.
  • To propose on how organizations can address the various factors that lead to project failure.

5.     Summary of Chapters

This dissertation has been divided into five chapters. In summary, chapter one introduces the common of project failure where it is not surprisingly to see that lots of projects are regarded as failure as the projects are unable to meet the intended objectives. Following to the introduction, it highlights the research topic is going to discuss in this dissertation. In addition, this chapter also points out the values of the dissertation with the rationale of picking this topic to conduct the research study. The aim and objectives of the research topic are underlined accordingly.

Chapter two focus on the literature review of the research study. This chapter reviews the existing literature, in order to bring u the definition of project and project management. In the meantime, the relevant literature is reviewed to highlight the findings of the causes of project failure, as well as the recommended measures to prevent project failure and remedy for project failure management. At the end of the chapter, there is a summary to the reviewed literature.

Chapter three focus on the research methodology. The study is based on research philosophy of constructionism and subjectivism and offers the advantages and disadvantages of the research philosophy. Nevertheless, the chapter points out the research approach to be adopted in the study, following with the desired research design, research strategy, data collection method and data analysis method which will be used in the study. The chapter also discusses the tool to be used in terms of the validity and reliability of the data. Last but not least, the chapter takes into consideration of ethical measures to be applied throughout the research study.

Chapter four of this research focuses on data analysis and it illustrates the data findings from the conduction of semi-structured interview. The results of the data analysis will then be presented in tables with different themes to explain the data in details.

Chapter five summarizes the research and focus on conclusion of this dissertation, then this chapter will offer recommendation for future research.

Chapter six concentrates on the reflection upon the research process and methodically regarding this dissertation.

6.     Conclusion

Proper project management should bring in the best project management practise with effective project methodology to run the project in order to eliminate the possibility of project failure and bring the project success. In this connection, it is common that triple constraint in terms of time, budget and quality are the key factors that needed to be considered of during the project implementation (Muller, 2009).  To drill further, project success can be defined in terms of micro and macro elements. The micro elements are composed of time, quality, performance, safety and cost. The other elements include customer satisfaction. Project is also defined as success or failure in terms of profitability. All in all, there are many factors that contribute to project failure. This dissertation will be beneficial to managers who manage or participate into projects, as they will be able to understand and determine key factor which may lead to project failure and come up with some recommendations to prevent project failure. An effective project management practices will be explored in this dissertation, in order to bring further ideas to organizations and other key stakeholders in addressing various known factors to improve the project management and bring to the success of projects.

CHAPTER TWO – LITERATURE REVIEW

1.     Introduction of the purpose of literature review

The aim of this literature review is to provide a foundation of knowledge on project management for the research. The literature review will outline previous research conducted on the causes of project failure, the prevention measures and the remedies in case of project failure. This will allow for the placement of this research in the context of the research that has already been conducted on this topic.

2.     Definition of Project and Project Management

A project is defined as a temporary effort towards the creation of a new product, service or a result that is unique (Project Management Institute, 2018). A project is defined as being temporary where it has a commencement and a definite end (Pet, 2005). The project therefore has a defined scope and predetermined resources. A project is also defined as being unique in the sense that it is not an operation that is performed routinely. A project is composed of unique operations which are directed towards the achievement of a specific objective. Thus, in most instances, the project team is composed of individuals who do not usually work together. They can be people from different departments or even organisations.

Project management on the other hand refers to the use of knowledge, techniques, tool or skills in order to achieve the objectives of the project. According to Jafari et al. (2011), the project management process can be divided into five stages. The process includes starting, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and finally the close or end of the project. Project management mainly focuses on goals, resources as well as the time frame (Project Management Institute, 2018).

3.     Causes of Project Failure

This section discusses the causes of project failure. Project failure can happen to any organisation. There is a wide range of reasons why projects fail, which have been studied by many academic researchers. Sometimes the reason why project fail is beyond the control of the project manager or project team. Project management should be managed in a proper manner. The goal of a project management team is to ensure that the project is managed successfully. However, this goal may not be achieved due to errors of commission or omission on the part of the projects team. It is important to note that the human factor is fundamental to the success of any project (Enagi and Ochoke, 2013). Some of the factors that cause project failure are explored by the researchers in prior studies.

Undefined successful criterion

First of all, the project team fails to determine whether the project is in line with the set objectives (Vakili, 2012). The project team needs to define the critical success factors of the projects. These critical success factors must be made known to the key stakeholders of the organisation such as the C-Level person, Division heads. It is vital at the beginning of the project to hold a meeting to the various stakeholders in order to determine expectations in terms of cost, product quality and time. It is very crucial to identify and engage with the relevant stakeholders. If the views of the stakeholders are not taken into consideration, the result of the project may not be satisfactory to them. Projects failure occurs if the project teams do not have a clear picture of the expected deliverables. The project team needs to have a clear understanding on the project success factors that entailed. There should be certain ramifications in case the goals of the project are not met as per the set standards. The tasks to be undertaken in the project should be ranked in terms of priority (Jafari et al., 2011). The most important aspects of the project should be assigned to the most proficient members of the project teams. Sometimes projects fail because success parameters have not been defined clearly. The project should be divided into levels where success parameters are defined at each level. This will ensure that the success of one level is ascertained before commencing the next level (Ika, 2012).

Unclear project scope

The project scope defines the boundaries of a project. It describes what exactly is to be delivered at the end of the project. Sometimes projects fail due to unclear project scope. It is important for the project manager and project team to have a clear project scope since it allows them to know what is to be done. The activities which fall within the boundaries of the project are defined as being “in scope” and are therefore included in the schedule and budget of the project. According to Muller (2009), by not understanding the scope of the project, the team can do less or more than is expected of them. Most projects fail due to project creep. According to Larson and Larson (2009), project creep refers to the addition of features or requirements that is not authorized as it is not within the project scope. The problem with project creep is that it leads to wastage of time and resources. This is because time is channelled towards the fulfilling of unauthorized tasks at the expense of those tasks that are within scope. This could lead to a situation where approved features are not completed. The end product will therefore not be what was agreed upon as per the design of the project. Sometimes the project teams may make small changes which may seem insignificant but whose ripple effect can affect the entire project. Project scope creep makes change management a very fundamental part of the project (Larson and Larson, 2009).

Inaccurate cost estimation

The under estimation of project cost may lead to project failure (Pet, 2005). If the costs are not accurately estimated, then it may lead to a situation that the organisation is facing with resources shortfall. Such resources running out may lead the project to stall or even suspense. If the costs are not accurately estimated, then it may lead to a situation where the organisation is faced with competing priorities. This is where personnel resources and project funding compete. Sometimes the personnel resources are given priority over project funding. The personnel resources are given priority over project funding (Koi-Akrofi et al., 2013). The implication of inaccurate cost estimations that it leads to a loss of reputation and credibility of the project team. It also exposes the project to risk in the sense that the project may be delayed or stalled all together. It also leads to financial loss on the part of the stakeholders. A good example of a project that suffered inaccurate cost estimation is the London Olympics which ended up costing twice the estimated cost. This was detrimental for the stakeholders involved since they had to source for extra funds to complete the project which eventually lead to delay. Some of the facilities were not completed by the time the Olympics began. In order to make accurate estimation, historical data on previous similar projects should be used (Foster and Pushak, 2011)

Poor time management

At the planning stage of the project, the project team will formulate a time frame for which the project must be completed. However; according to Foster and Pushak (2011), sometimes projects fail due to the fact that the project team have poor time management skills. These individuals do not complete tasks within the assigned time frame and this may lead the entire project to stall and even stop. When projects run beyond the stipulated time, there is a very high probability that the budget will also be affected negatively. The project may end up costing more than expected. The project teams should stop procrastinating tasks that would ultimately lead to the delay of the entire project. The project team should first and foremost set a realistic time frame for the project. Secondly, the project should be broken down in to smaller tasks which can be completed first within the designated time frame. These will aid in the entire project being completed (Larson and Larson, 2009).

Improper project planning

Projects usually fail because the project teams do not have a clear picture of what is expected of them in advance. The project team needs to have a definition of what the project success will entail. They will then strive not to lose focus of this. It is important at the beginning of the project to hold a meeting to the various stakeholders in order to determine expectations in terms of cost, product quality and time (Felix and Wilson, 2011). By failing to plan, the project team will not be in position to tackle any problems that may arise (Foster and Pushak, 2011). The comprehensive project plan aids in helping the detailing of the business objectives and the benefits to realise the project objectives (Ewa, 2013).

Inability of project manager

In the work of Ghauri and Granhaug (2010), project manager is one of the key persons that leading to the success of the project.  The project manager is a very fundamental part of the project. Since the project manager receives a lot of responsibility, it is important that this individual has the necessary education as well as experience. However, in most cases, inexperienced individuals lead projects. Project manager should assign tasks to the team that match up to the experience. It is very important to ensure that the project team is skilful, and their responsibilities are clearly defined. The project management must have access to proper expertise which can help them to fulfil their various roles (Gilb, 2004). Furthermore, projects fail because the project managers fail to track the milestones of the project (Ewa, 2013). The Project Management Institute (2018) highlighted the importance of making clear documentation of tracking the entire project progress. By recording and monitoring the project closely, the project manager is able to determine which part of the project requires more resources will allow the project to be completed on time. The ability of project manager influences the successful rate of project implementation. Project manager should take time to know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and then to assign relevant job responsibilities in line with the strengths of each individual. A good project manager should identify issues in the project and make changes effectively and accordingly (Igbokwe-Ibeto, 2012). However, all the members of the project teams should be held accountable for their actions in case of project failure. A lot of blame games are seen every time a project fails (Igbokwe-Ibeto, 2012). Blaming each other will usually demoralise the project team members. Thus, individuals must be held accountable for doing their specific tasks in line with the standard time, quality and cost estimates (Odedairo et al., 2011).

Poor management support

Though, it is not only the project manager who is tasked with leading the project. It is also the responsibility of other individuals within management levels of the organisation to support and ensure that the project is going smooth (Project Management Institute, 2018). It is the work of the management team to provide support to ensure that the project manager can perform his or her tasks successfully. It is important for the leaders to have a clear view of how the project, benefit and evaluation criteria are interconnected. (Muller, 2009) Sometimes a project may go beyond the boundaries of an organisation thus necessitating the need for the project management to oversee the project to ensure it is aligned to the organisation objectives. Failure to do so may lead to project failure. The management sometimes fails to ensure that the commitment of the projects is checked against the delivery implications. A project may fail due to poor leadership as decisions are not usually made on time. The management fails to monitor whether decisions are agreed upon by the project team. However, it can be argued that projects also fail sometimes since the management implements a micro-management to the project.

Poor communication channel

Effective communication is fundamental to the success of any given project. According to Muller (2009), poor communication between the management, stakeholders and projects team will lead to definite failure of the project. Every member of the project teams should be given the freedom and proper channels for them to express their concerns as well as giving suggestions on how to execute the project effectively. The objectives and tasks of the projects should be communicated to all members of the project team. When there is an increase in transparency, then the workflow of the project will be towards to its optimum. According to the Project Management Institute (2018), poor communication is one of the key contributors of project failure. The communication can be passed either by verbal or written but the important thing is that such information should be documented for future reference. Proper documentation will allow the project team to keep track of the communication. The project team may use a cloud-based project management technique that will accord the team members the opportunity to communicate in real time. The communication will also be stored at a central location where any member of the team can retrieve. This will stream the flow of communication while increasing the transparency of the project. Without a proper communication channel and a central documentation system will affect the success of project implementation (Myers and Avison, 2002).

Poor project risk management

The failure to identify, prioritize and manage risks will lead to failure of the project. Every time a project is about to fail, there will always be certain warning signs. By acting promptly, the project team can save the project (Obayelu, 2007). If these warning signs are not taken in to consideration, then the project is bound to fail. The major risks of the projects should therefore be identified and anticipated (Jafari et al, 2011). Sometimes the budget of the project is exceeded due to the fact that risk management funds are not allocated. Resources should be set aside to deal with a given risk in case it occurs. It is important to identify any potential risks during the planning phase of the project (Myer and Avison, 2002). The team can then formulate risk mitigation procedures in anticipation of these risks. Not planning for risks can lead to high costs and also delays of the project (Vakini, 2012). It is also important to organise frequent meetings with relevant stakeholders to discuss any risk related aspects of the project (Obayelu, 2007).

Culture and ethical issues

The organisation culture plays a fundamental role in determining the success of the project. The project will not be successful if the organisation culture is not composed of competence, professionalism and pro-activeness (Pet, 2005). The project team will not be motivated to complete the project on time as per objectives without a proper culture. All team members must be invested in the project in order to ensure the success. All the members of the organisation usually play a fundamental role in influencing the culture of the organisation. The strong culture plays a fundamental role in shaping how an organisation will undertake a new project (Nwachukwu, 2009).

4.     Measures to Prevent Project Failure

This section aims at analysing literature pertaining to how project failure can be prevented. Organisations usually invest in projects with the aim of attaining certain levels of product performance. This performance refers to how good the product or system is. These performance indicators should be measurable in order to ascertain to what extent the project has succeeded. It is also very important to measure performance at every stage of the project in order to ascertain how successful that phase is before moving to the next. Measuring a project at the end only leads to higher levels of failure (Urquhart, 2001).

It is worth noting that many project managers do not plan for project failure rather, they plan and anticipate for success such as deliverables and executive prospects (Muller, 2009). It is for this reason that managers do not envision the risks at hand until it is too late. However, there are certain measures that can be considered and enforced in order to prevent project failure. This begins with a strategic project assurance. It ensures that all individuals involved in the project are aware of their expectations as well as their responsibilities. Some studies indicated that there has been extensive research conducted in the field as to the success rate of many projects as well as the reasons why failure is encountered (Koi-Akrofi et al., 2013). It was noted that the same problems that existed ten years ago, still exist presently and they are the major reason for project failure (Nelson, 2005). In order to prevent project failure, there should be room for project assurance. This ensures that project expectations are delivered as scheduled and within the budget. Project assurance aids in the reduction of the costs incurred during the project, monitors the milestones are reached, decreases the rate of surprises significantly, gives room for objective analysis, and finally ensures that there is some level of trust between the executives of the project and the project managers (Arbabi and Nazari, 2010). Project assurance is best on the principles stipulated below.

Identification of the real issues

It is necessary for every project to be carefully monitored in such a manner that the issues are well identified and analysed with utmost precision without letting emotions get in the way (Muller, 2009). An executive dialogue should be established, and continued through the process of implementation (Nelson, 2005). It is also necessary that all organizational barriers should be gotten rid of from both the organizational level as well as the third-party vendor.

Schedule realistic time

It is common for most project managers to come up with unrealistic goals completely disregarding the realities as well as the limitations that may exist (Muller, 2009). A good example is observed in the case where the design phase gets extended, but the time frame scheduled does not allow for the extension (Bryman and Bell, 2011). It is therefore necessary that the project should be monitored from the beginning to the end of the implementation process and come up with a realistic schedule. This is done with the main purpose of avoiding the downstream effects (Bryman and Bell, 2011).

Aligning the work streams

It is essential that the project should be identified earlier, aligned as well as monitored for the sole purpose of ensuring that it runs smoothly (Nwachukwu, 2009). It is also important to comprehend the decencies especially between the workloads. This is done with the sole purpose of guaranteeing efficient resource allocation. It is for this reason that project managers should keenly monitor the interdependences that may exist at the course of the project life cycle (Nelson, 2005).

Seek objectivity

It is necessary for project managers to seek opinion from an independent or outside expert (Koi-Akrofi et al., 2013). This professional aid tends to add some value throughout the implementation process as well as offer the costs of failure (Muller, 2009). This is done with the main aim of preventing any form of organizational roadblocks. This also ensures that the project managers as well as the stakeholders and the executive have performed in professional manner. This is mostly done through the help of executive project manager especially one who has had tonnes of experience dealing with project evaluation. This will enable the executive project manager to examine the subtle indicators as well as giving the proper advice in order to salvage the project (Cooke, 2002).

5.     Remedy for project failure

This section analyses literature pertaining to the various remedies which have been outlined in case project failure occurs. The effective ways of dealing with project failure is known as effective project recovery (Obayelu, 2007). The best way to recover a project is through conducting a project audit or review (Vakili, 2012). This is mostly done using a set of standardized questions which enables the project manager to find the key problems with the project (Pet, 2005). This makes it possible for one to handle the series problems first then narrow down to the smaller problems. When it comes to project review, the project manager will be able to halt the bleeding. A good example is in the case where a project review enables one to rectify the scope of the project which was unstable and always changing prior to the review (Vakili, 2012). It is worth noting that different project requires different levels of project planning. Some will require that all the activities of the project should be halted to focus on the main cause of a problem what is commonly referred to as a full anaesthetic (Pet, 2005).

After conducting an evaluation of the project, the manager may realise that the project has no viable solutions and that any actions to try and salvage it will be futile. At this point, the best thing to be done is to cut the losses and move on to another project instead of wasting both money and resources in trying to salvage an already failed project (Jafari et al., 2011). The best cause of action in this case is planning for euthanasia. The project manager should consult a recovery project manager whose main role is to ensure that ensure that the cost, time as well as the damage caused by the project failure is as minimal as possible (Dvir, 2005).

In the case where the recovery project manager has conducted a triage and determined that the project should not be closed, the recovery project manager must come up with a comprehensive recovery plan to present to the project stakeholders. It is worth noting that communication is a very important aspect of any project and at all stages, however, it is particularly more important during the project recovery stages (Arbabi and Nazari, 2010). Since the challenge is likely to notice a demoralised team as well as angry customers and impatient management team. Once the plan is fully accepted by the stakeholders, the recovery project manager should ensure that the team members are well motivated and to ensure that the project is conducted to its completion and success is sort after. The project should be carefully monitored as well as controlled and decisions should be made in a very timely manner. During this recovery period, the team members should be made positive as well as the momentum should be created (Ewa, 2013).

6.     Summary

The literature established projects fail due to various reasons. First and foremost, a project will fail due to the fact that the project teams fail to clearly define the project scope. Secondly, the literature review found that projects also fail due to inaccurate cost estimation where the costs exceed the predetermined budget. Poor planning is also another factor that contributes to project failure. This poor planning could be related to the fact that the project manager is not qualified enough.  Projects also fail due to lack of management support. This is where the management of an organisation do not play an active role in the project. The literature also found that good communication is very vital to the success of the business and thus poor communication is one of the leading factors that lead to project failure. There is also extensive literature that has been conducted to show that risk management should be part and parcel of the project process. If risks are not planned for, the project can fail.

The literature also found out that there are certain measures which organisations take to prevent project failure. First of all, it is imperative to identify the real issues that affecting the project. Another factor is to set a realistic time frame. This will ensure that the project team does not rush to meet an unrealistic time frame. Some studies have found that the project team should also align the works streams and seek objectivity. When a project fails, the literature found that the company should implement a recovery plan that entail performing an audit of the project by following certain standardized procedure. However; the various literature used in this paper failed to offer some empirical evidence to support the various claims.

To address the above limitations, this dissertation intends to research further to conduct a study that will give certain figure which can be used to substantiate the various findings of the project. This will be done by interviewing project managers.

CHAPTER THREE – RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

1.     Introduction

This chapter covers the research methodology of this dissertation. To further drilldown, this chapter outlines the research philosophy, research approach, research design, research strategy, data collection method, data analysis method, reliability and validity, ethical considerations and the research limitations of the dissertation.  

2.     Research Philosophy

This dissertation follows the interpretivism and constructionism. Interpretivist view does not prevent the truth from securing objects but rather it incredibly challenges the speculation of authenticity existing ‘out there’. The ontological perspective of interpretivism sees reality and items as inseparably entwined with human awareness (Bahari, 2010). The ontological case of reality as ‘truth’ is along these lines tested and it is important to receive real world feedback from the participants in related to the cause of project failure.

Besides, constructionism does not depend on collecting data through sense-perception. Its epistemology is anti-positivist and emphases on understanding the subjective world views of human beings. This is in stark contrast to natural science based empirical epistemology of positivism. Human beings are considered essential element to analysis individual opinion that has the ability to respond to same stimuli differently. It is also a key research philosophy to this dissertation on analysing project experience which is part of the human nature (Bahari, 2010).

In terms of the advantages of the selected research philosophy, subjectivism sees that social wonders are made from the observations and ensuing activities of those social on-screen characters worried about their reality (Bahari, 2010). Legitimately, constructionism is alluded to as ontological spot which pronouncements that social event and their implications are over and over being skilful by social entertainers. The research methodologies of constructionism includes but not limited to phenomenological research, grounded theory and research tools of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and content analysis, which suit this dissertation for gathering and analysing data and information. 

However, there are some limitations of subjectivism and constructionism. Constructionism is a descriptive epistemology. Its theoretical perspectives and research methodologies describe what an researcher obtains from individual or group of individuals in terms of data and information (Lee, 2012). The focus of analysis is usually centred on theme extraction. Long term and reoccurring organizational problems are therefore difficult to solve through this approach because it is not ‘curative’ by its very nature.

Another issue is towards to its level of application in organizations. High discretion roles like police officers, doctors, receptionists and lawyers are more suitable because they encounter complex nature of multiple realities in their daily roles (Lee, 2012). Therefore, the applicability and viability of the research in other roles like janitors and assembly line workers may remain challenging.

3.     Research Approach

After establishing and defining the research philosophy, a suitable research approach needs to be identified in order to deal with the research purposes. Bordens and Abbott (2002) illustrated that the research approach assists to organize activities of the research which include data collection and mechanisms and methods which will be beneficial in achieving research objective.  

This paper will make use of an inductive approach. For the inductive approach, it starts with precise observation in order to produce widespread theories, summarizing the conclusions from the research. The inductive approach is appropriate in terms of the small qualitative data collection, considering the research effort of the cause. According to Bryman and Bell (2011), inductive research approach is used to formulate explanation from the data collected. This research made use of a semi-structured interview where 6 project managers from major organisations in Hong Kong are interviewed via Skype meeting. They were interviewed with the aim of gathering data on their experiences with project management failure. In this case the data collected will help us explain what factors lead to project failure and how they can be prevented. Therefore, it is all about making use of certain observations to arrive at a generalised theory.

The reasons why this research makes use of inductive data:

a)         It will allow for the condensing of the qualitative data into brief summaries.

b)         It will allow for the formulation of a relationship between the research objectives and the research findings which will be summarised from the qualitative data.

c)         It will allow for the development of a theory about the structure of the findings that will be derived from the qualitative data.

The advantage of using inductive approach is the increase in flexibility level since the research does not have to align observations and findings by previous researchers towards a pre-determined hypothesis (Akinyokun et al., 2009). With such, this study will focus on collecting and analysing qualitative data while making practical assumptions. According to Creswell and Crewell (2017), the literature was used sparingly as the foundation for progressing research questions. Literature review in Chapter 2 was undertaken previously to assist and establish a basis for the research questions and to ascertain the extent and depth of prevailing knowledge on aspects that cause project failure and project management.

However, this approach has received some criticisms and limitations. According to Kamil (2004), the inductive approach has it weaknesses where the reliability of the research outcomes may be affected due to the small data collection exercise where many arguing that if the researcher ends up making any incorrect observations, then the conclusion will be automatically incorrect (Byraman and Bell, 2011).

4.     Research Design

The qualitative research design is selected for this dissertation. The concealed purpose behind doing any qualitative research is to obtain good understanding and comprehension of a specific theme, issue, or criticalness subject to coordinate inclusion (Patton,1990). The selection of qualitative research design has its advantages and limitations.

In terms of the advantages, first and foremost, the material or qualitative data can be analysed in depth. This is because qualitative data does not really intend to create any measurable outcomes. The researcher is therefore increasing the room to widen the scope of the research in line with the qualitative data that is available. Secondly, the research framework is flexible. Qualitative research allows the researcher to modify the framework in line with the quality of data that is gathered. If a given approach is not yielding any results, then the research can automatically shift the approach. This allows the researcher to gather information on a subject from any perspectives (Bahill and Handerson, 2005). Another advantage is that qualitative data allows the researcher to gather data on human experiences, which align to the research objectives. This allows the researcher to take into consideration the instinctual nature of human beings. In other words, it takes into consideration gut instinct. Furthermore, the data from a qualitative research allows for a predictive quality by those who are in a like-minded group with the researcher. When the complex qualitative data is gathered into a single central database, the conclusion can be come up with a depth and accurate outcome (Bryman and Bell, 2011). Qualitative data has the ability of producing some insights to the management. For example, when undertaking a new project to create a new product, qualitative research will allow the team to ascertain how the consumers feel about the new products and whether it needs improvement.  Qualitative research allows organizations to acquire important insights from the market. Finally, qualitative data is cost effective as it uses small samples of data. Qualitative data research can be conducted within a very short time and at the least cost arrangement (Cleland and Garus, 2006).

However, qualitative research design has limitations as well. First of all, qualitative data is usually very subjective. For example; one researcher may find some data to be very important and worth gathering while others may find the data to be worthless. Since the data is subject to the discretion of the researcher, the data may be generalized or even inaccurate. The data may lack validity with the researchers may be biased to their own viewpoint (Cooke, 2002). It is also important to note that the quantity of data that is gathered may be overwhelming. It is rather time consuming to sieve through the data in order to retrieve important information. Thus, data mining process may be time consuming and quite difficult (Creswel, 2009). On the other hand, the data that is gathered qualitatively can be very important but is difficult to present. The data may not be accepted by some individuals in the scientific community. This is because these data are usually subjective. The data that is gathered qualitatively is subject to the influence of the researchers. Thus, relevant controls should be put into place to remedy against the bias of the researcher (Dvir, 2005).

5.     Research Strategy

Saunders (2011) have accentuated that the decision of research strategy is guided by research questions and targets. Research strategy took place in this dissertation is to setup qualitative interview. Qualitative research design considers of the data that received from the interviewees (project managers) via semi-structured interview, based on their experience and then interpret the research analysis for the research topic.

The subjective experience helps to explore further whether the findings are aligned with the literature review (Singleton et al., 2008). The subjective methodology is suitable for this investigation on the grounds that the information gathered and utilized spotlights on the interaction with interviewees which encounter the new findings from their real world experience. Furthermore, it enables the researcher to respond to the analysis questions or the elementary inquiries which shapes the structure of the investigation or interview. In addition, researcher engages with participants which help to build creditability in terms of the real-world experience data collection. In this way, the investigation procedure is more interactive and effective.

However, conducting a qualitative research which includes subjective feedback may have the limitations. For instance, a researcher may find the data is significant and important, but on the other hand, another researcher may feel the data is nothing vital to help explaining the research findings. The differentiation of the viewpoints can affect the outcome of the analysed information. The summary and the conclusion of the research topic could have some false analysis in light of its subjective qualitative research.

6.     Data Collection Methods

This research will use of a semi-structured interview where 6 project managers from major organisations in Hong Kong are interviewed via Skype meeting. Data will be collected with arranging an individual interview. Qualitative techniques using semi-structured interviews are accepted to give a ‘more profound’ comprehension than would be attained from simply quantitative strategies, for instance, surveys (Ritchie and Spencer, 2002).

Semi-structured interviews include a couple of key requests that help to describe the domains to be explored; it empowers the interviewees to meander to look for an idea or response in more details (Bryman, 2006). This collection method is used most consistently to this dissertation, as it provides individuals some guidance on what to talk about, thus provide more in-depth interaction. On the other hand, the planned interviews help to eliminate the non-response rate. The flexibility of this approach, particularly appeared differently in relation to sorted out gatherings, provided a clear guidelines and instructions for the interviewer to follow the list of prepared questions which desired to be covered. In this connection, the interviewees can easily to follow the flow of the interview, in order to provide reliable feedback.

However, there are some limitations of semi-structured interview. First of all, interviewing abilities are required. The interviewer needs to have questioning skills to receive more accurate information from the interviewee. In addition, there may have a concern to dissect the information, it may be questioned of the interpretation to the answers which come to an extreme to the outcomes of the data analysis. Preparation must be deliberately arranged so as not to make the inquiries prescriptive or driving. Last but not least, semi-structured interview targets a small number of participants to attend the interview; the concern may come with not adequate participants to make general examinations.

7.     Data Analysis Methods

This dissertation adopts qualitative data analysis techniques with content analysis. Subjective information which is otherwise called engaging information is non-numerical information, which catches ideas and suppositions to aid as the analysis (Maxwell, 2012). During the interview process, it is also generally better to tape-record the interviews and then to conduct a transcript for data analysis in later stage. It is vital that the subjective information incorporate transcripts from the interviews. In this connection, the content analysis is adopted as the data analysis tool to make the information comprehensive for analysis. The method helps researcher to structure the qualitative data in aligning with the research objectives.

Since data is at the centre of research, it ends up being an incredibly basic to ensure that it will not be blemished. The advantages of the content analysis include but not limited to taking into consideration of qualitative and subjective approach which convert into writing and translate the information with strong purpose in related to the research objectives. Content analysis also provides a methodology to explain the knowledges received from complex models of human idea and experience.

The weaknesses or limitations of the content analysis may expose the risk to the human error, for instance, misinterpretation to the data, which lead to a false outcome. Therefore, the recording of the interview is rather important, for the researcher to have a chance to redigest the information gathered from interviewees. Organizing data in a way that researcher can get familiar with the information in a right direction. Then, researcher can start to perform analytical thinking by categorizing and identifying the important information.

8.     Reliability and Validity

Reliability and validity are essential in the current research methodology in a concise and precise manner. These are essential concepts for giving a remarkable setting in study research.  Reliability is referred to the stability of findings, whereas validity is represented the truthfulness of findings. Healy and Perry (2000) judge the validity and reliability within the realism paradigm which relies on multiple perceptions about a single reality. Healy and Perry (2000) argue the participation of analysis of several data sources and their interpretations with those multiple perceptions in the realism paradigm.

Constructivism values multiple realities that people have in their minds. Therefore, it is important to ensure the reliability and validity, the use of investigators, method and data triangulations to record the construction of reality must need to be appropriate. An open-ended perspective in a semi-structured interview form which allow participants to attend the interview and help the researcher to response on the research questions to the data collection process. Taking into consideration multiple methods, such as interviews observation and recordings will lead to a more valid, reliable and diverse construction of realities. To improve the analysis, a qualitative researcher can reference and consider the ideas and explanations generated by additional researchers studying the research participants.

9.     Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations should be made relevant to qualitative research. Research morals manage the collaboration among participants and the general population on what they think about (Diener and Crandall, 2008). Proficient morals manage extra issues, for example, shared connections among specialists, coaching connections, protected innovation, manufacture of information, and literary theft, among others. Regard for people requires an assurance to ensuring the self-administration of research individuals, and, where autonomy may be decreased, to shield people from maltreatment of their shortcoming. The balance of all investigation individuals must be respected. Adherence to this standard ensures that people will not be used fundamentally as an approach to achieve the ask about goals. Esteem requires a guarantee to restricting the threats related with research, including mental and social risks, and expanding the preferences that assemble to explore individuals. Researchers should articulate express ways that will be practiced (Miller et al., 2012).

The main errand in accomplishing educated assent will advise individuals about the examination in a manner they can get. The researcher will get formal consent from significant specialist before research can start. Since qualitative research is conversational, it will be significant for researcher to keep up clear limits between what to tell and what to receive from participants. Discussion is a social demonstration that requires give and take. The researcher will likewise consider the privacy of the respondents before the accumulation of the data started.  Unequivocal systems should be set up for security.

It is important to receive the consent for the interview before participate into the process. The participants should be informed before the start of the interviews on the consent of participation as well as whether there is a tape-recording plan. A confirmation form should be ready for participants to sign on the form. Participants should also be informed of the confidentiality terms. This helps the participants to be willing to attend the interview, provided that the information is only readily available for the dedicated person. Last but not least, the recording tapes should be kept in a safe and confidential folder in a retention period. After the period, all the recoding materials should be devastated.

CHAPTER FOUR – DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION

1.     Introduction

Chapter four of this research focuses on data analysis and discussion which illustrates the technique used to analyse qualitative data. The chapter presents the research findings of the data collected, via conducting the semi-structured interview with participants on their view of project failure. The main source of data is from the semi-structured interview which will then be explained with the findings from the literature review. The results of the data analysis will then be presented in tables with categorisation. Content analysis will be used in analysing this qualitative research. The findings will be obtainable in regard to the research objectives stated in this research study.

2.     Data Collection Procedure

This dissertation used primary data collection method. As mentioned in the introduction section, the research study used semi-structured interviews, where 6 project managers were invited in Hong Kong to participate and provide their professional feedback in related to this dissertation. The interviewees are assigned anonymous tag (e.g. Interviewee 1, Interviewee 2) to protect their identity. The semi-structured interviews were designed to capture information from the participants (i.e. the project managers). Their perspectives about the project management factors and reasons for project failure will be discussed and then to perform further analysis. In addition, the interview will also obtain their feedback on the measures and remedy to tackle and prevent project failure. It is helpful from a qualitative perspective to draw insights on the interpretation with the social reality.

Purposive technique is being adopted for the study. Purposive technique is a strategy which applied in situations where the researcher deliberately selects participants (i.e. the project managers role), aim to produce the most reliable data (Saunders et al., 2012). This process creates credibility for the researcher given it follows strictly to the plan. 

3.     Data Analysis Procedure

This part discourses the analysis of data procedure when the data is collected. Since this dissertation is a qualitative research analysis, the data collected from the semi-structured interview will be analysed through the content analysis technique alongside relevant Social Science theories discussed in the Literature Review chapter. The interviews will be tape recorded with respondents’ consent. Transcript will be created as workings to record the conversation of the interview for self-analysis purpose. Following the transcription of entire data, it provides an opportunity to engage in a continuous process to re-read the data and to begin to categorise the themes. Ultimately, it aims to demonstrate how different themes are arrived at.

The field data will be analysed through a thematic analysis. The data will then be organized through categorization and unitisation in order to explain the occurrence at hand by grouping as different themes. The initial data analysis will be useful in locating some of the emerging themes as well as additional gaps that help to fill. This process involves combing the data to identify emerging themes and threads in order to write the empirical chapter. In the process of revisiting the fieldwork notes, a certain pattern emerged with the similarities and differences, finally it will be helpful to shape the analysis and to summarize whether these themes align with the literature review studies.

4.     Interview Results

To recall, the aim of this research is to ascertain the factors that cause project failure. The research also seeks to ascertain the best measures that can be implemented to prevent project failure.  The project managers are interviewed to highlight the major causes of project failure per their project experience. The exploratory data from the interviews will be useful to verify with the literature review studies. In the coming sub-sections, the result of the interview questions will be categorised as themes after conducing data analysis by the outcomes produced from the semi-structured interviews. All in all, the interview result is to validate the findings from the literature review which may also discover further themes under the analysis.

  • Question on major factor leads to project failure

First of all, the interviewee was asked what the major factor leads to project failure. In normal circumstances, it is not a surprise that project managers must have prepared a project schedule which allow the project managers to continue with a given or expected channel or a given direction. The project schedule allows the project managers and implementers to be able to stick to a specific direction and timeframe. Therefore, the project managers are able to assess the development of the project and can confidently report the progress based on the project schedule and the physical schedule or achievements according to the place. However, said is easier than done. The participants in this interview were going to highlight the key factor which affect their original plan and lead to project failure according to their project experience.

In summary, 3 categories have been formed: Scoping, Communication and Timeline.

Table 1

Category Units of Data
Scoping Interviewee 1: “Changing of scope leads to diversion of important project resources to activities that have been unidentified in the original project scope, leading to pressure on the project schedule.”
Interviewee 2: “In my experience, every unexpected change in scope affects a project that has already been performed.”
Interviewee 3: “Scope creeping in the project management. This happens when changes are allowed with inadequate impact analysis and not reviewing implication on schedule and cost, but the key authority user insists to make such change.”
Interviewee 4: “For quality of product each change needs to be examined thoroughly and incorporated in product design. We experienced in the past that when this was not thoroughly assessed the scope changes, it can finally affect product quality.”

As shown in Table 1, majority of the interviewees responded that the unexpected change of the scope within the project is the major factor lead to project failure. The Interviewee 1 highlighted that the scope change leads to the diversion of the important project resources which against the original plan or those that have not been put as part of the project. The other respondents stated that the changes and varying in the scope of the projects bring more risk on the project and finally cannot achieve the original objectives. The changes in scope at the execution stage lead to the destruction of the various stages and such effects leads to diluting of the quality of the final output. Project managers have faced strong challenge to tackle this. There are constraints on the variable resources, timeline and the established budget. Since the budget was established with a given objective of establishing certain project goals, the changes in scoping require extra resources in order to achieve the planned deadline. The implications of the schedule and the costs of the projects have significant effects to the project objectives. The findings align with the studies of Muller (2009) and Larson and Larson (2009), argued that by not understanding the scope of the project, the team can do less or more than is expected of them and that most projects fail due to project creep.

Table 2

Category Units of Data
Communication Interviewee 5: “Lack of proper communication of change within the whole project team.  Changes are overlooked when communication are not timely. We prefer to what we are working on and to always be aware or be informed of any decisions pertaining to the project.”

As shown in Table 2, communication problem is highlighted by the Interviewee 5. The interview results indicate that lack of proper communication within the project team brings project failure.  Changes are overlooked when communication is not timely. The Interviewee 5 added that “We prefer to what we are working on and to always be aware or be informed of any decisions pertaining to the project.”, it somehow implied that an open communication in the organization is really a challenge. This is in line with the argument of Muller (2009), poor communication between the management, stakeholders and projects team will lead to definite failure of the project. If the stakeholders are unwilling to share their view and opinion to improve the project efficiency, the project will definite a risk to go live successfully.

Table 3

Category Units of Data
Timeline Interviewee 6: “During a project everybody is time pressed and this will probably lead to conduct a superficial change impact examination.”

As shown in Table 3, the Interviewee 6 mentioned the importance of meeting the timeline. This is because each stage has a timeline to meet. In aggregate all these stages and their timelines will end up becoming the achievement of the entire project because project has definite end during the course. If the same is not adhered to it will lead to failure of the entire project because the smaller mistakes will be aggregated to the entire project and lead to the failure of the whole project. This outcome aligns to the studies of Foster and Pushak (2011), sometimes projects fail due to the fact that the project team have poor time management skills. The timeline issue can be pointed to the human factors, for instance, the deployment and the division of the available time before the deadline of the project is under the control of human being, who might make a wrong decision to allocate the resources to other activities or projects. The diversion of labour and skills have also been highlighted by the previous studies as one of the factors that affect the performance or accomplishment of the projects.

In the interview, the timeline, scoping and communication have been fronted by the various respondents as the main factors that affect the project and leads to project. The findings are aided by the literature review as one of the key reasons that lead to project failure. In the real-world experience, project managers are also facing similar challenges while undergoing the projects.

4.2 Question on Why the selected factor is most critical to project failure

After the interviewees responded the major factor leads to the project failure, they were asked the reason why the selected factor is the most critical one to the project failure. This is an extension of first question, to understand more on the rationale to the selection from the interviewees. In summary, it is making sense that 4 difference themes have been identified: Scope changes overtime, Unclear scope define, Poor communication and Unreasonable timeline.

Table 4

Category Units of Data
Scope changes overtime Interviewee 1: “Changing of scope leads to diversion of important project resources to activities that have been unidentified in the original project scope, leading to pressure on the project schedule.”
Interviewee 2: “For quality of product each changes needs to be examined thoroughly and incorporated in product design. When not thoroughly assessed scope changes lead to quick fixes that can affect product quality.”
Interviewee 4: “Scope creeping in the project management. This happens when changes are allowed with inadequate impact analysis and not reviewing implication on schedule and cost.”

To further explore the scope changes, the findings in Table 4 indicates that scope changes over time is critical to the project success. Each change needs to be examined thoroughly and incorporated in product design and it is important to avoid scope creeping in the entire project management. The Interviewee 4 explained in more details on scope creeping, “This happens when changes are allowed with inadequate impact analysis and not reviewing implication on schedule and cost.”, the feedback aligns to the argument of Larson and Larson (2009), project scope creep makes change management a very fundamental part of the project. If change management is not setup in appropriately, the scope creeping is a disaster factor to lead project failure.

Table 5

Category Units of Data
Unclear scope define Interviewee 3: “The users did not contribute much in the scoping exercise, and there always came to the outcome that uncertainty came up with the scope in the projects.”

The project managers are supposed to help users to set very clear scope and define the various forms and stages of the projects. This is because if the scope of the project is unclear, it means that there will be unclear allocation of resources and time. If the scope is not clear, it means that the project team will find it difficult to follow the plan and deliver the satisfied work. The resources will be distributed to all the irrelevant and mismatch activities. The findings are in line to Muller (2009) and Ika (2012), by not understanding the scope of the project, the resources cannot be spent on right place.

Table 6

Category Units of Data
Poor communication Interviewee 5: “All projects require one critical factor to be completed successfully and that is communication.”

As shown in Table 6, the Interviewee 5 emphasized the relevance and importance of communication. Poor communication is critical factor because if one of the team members extends the wrong information to the teammates, the wrong information will be disseminated across the sites to other team members so that the objectives cannot be met.

Table 7

Category Units of data
Unreasonable Timeline Interviewee 6: “When unreasonable timeline is set. Projects cannot be accomplished as this will lead to workers being overworked and frustrated and also it will lead to a low-quality result as the project will be hurriedly done to meet the timeline. In most case we try to make projects happen faster of which we fail to factor in quality of outcome, cost, labour availability this also include workforce welfare. Hence, it would be impossible finish the project on the stipulated time.”

Unreasonable time frame can be said to be one of the key elements of project failure, the Interviewee 6 responded in detail. The project team should be able to set realistic time frame and time lines according to the existing variables. Further, it is important to have strong control to the planned timeline with realistic frames against whether the team is able to stick to the set timeline. A key message from Interviewee 6 is that it is not easy to accomplish a project when there are unrealistic timeframes because it leads to overworking of the team which leads to ineffective and inefficiency. The findings are aligned with Larson and Larson (2009), they stated that unrealistic goals and minor changes may end up affecting the success of the entire project. Setting realistic timeline is vital. Foster and Pushak (2011) also explained that the project managers need to enhance the time management skills in order to make the project plan realistic.

4.3 Question on the key measure to prevent project failure

Thirdly, when the major factors are explored, the interviewees were asked on their view of key measure to prevent project failure with their project management experience. After the analysis process, 2 major categories were formed: Right control and monitoring and Set realistic goals.

Table 8

Category Units of data
Right control and monitoring Interviewee 2: “Ensuring that everything is on track, which we, the project managers, are among the key person to ensure have a right control and communication with the stakeholders/investors of the project progress.”
  “Project should be aligned with the works stream this is to ensure that there is efficient and smooth flow of progress. It will enable the project team to meet the project requirement effectively.”
Interviewee 4: “Process monitoring should be performed by identifying any potential risk that catered during the work activities in the project, make sure no show-stopper to the project go-live.”
Interviewee 5: “As a project manager, it is the key to have careful observation. Should be done by measuring the initial responses and reactions to project activities and their immediate short-term effects.”
Interviewee 6: “We should perform financial and physical monitoring by measuring the project progress activities against set schedules and success indicators.”

Table 8 has grouped the response by the interviewees and categorised as right control and monitoring. The project managers should monitor and control the whole project implementation with the key stakeholders and the project teams. The communication between the key stakeholders and members of the teams is very important to the achievement and the success of the project. The respondents like the Interviewee 2 and Interviewee 5 explained that project managers have the key responsibilities to create a monitoring tool and carefully observe any response from the team in order to manage expectation and results. Indeed, some of the items and issues being communicated may be external and are not within the control of the project managers but can potentially influence the direction of the project. For example, the weather changes of catastrophic event. In that case, project managers need to evaluate the effects as well as make a good judgement to control the activities assigned to the team members. Some adjustment may need to be done in order to manage those risks and uncertainty. The data findings are aligned with the findings by Ewa (2013) that project managers play a key role to make sure every deliverable and milestone are on track. Monitoring and control suggested by the Project Management Institute (2018) also highlighted the points that the project should be monitored carefully from end to end process, in order to achieve what have been planned in the planning stage.

Table 9

Category Units of data
Set realistic goals Interviewee 1: “Setting unrealistic goals lead to team being frustrated and failure of projects. We should ensure that all the objectives, goals and milestones included in a project should be doable.”
Interviewee 6: “Overestimate the goals set may lead to project failures in a number of ways… e.g. we may lack materials for the project, too much cost, it might take a long time to complete the project more than the anticipated time.”

The theme of Table 9 is categorised as realistic goals set. The Interviewee 1 and Interviewee 6 highlighted that setting unrealistic goals will bring disaster to the project go-live. The findings are aligned to the methodology of the Project Management Institute (2018), the project management team should focus on the objectives of the project as the basis. The final products includes: goals, resources as well as the time frame. The emphasis on the three elements ensures that there is a given expectation that the objectives of the project will be met.  But on the other hand, Bryman and Bell (2011) are more focusing on the unrealistic timeline which need to be prevented. Indeed, there is no contradiction to the findings from the interview. Since if the stakeholders set unrealistic goals to complete in a planned timeline, it may also imply the unrealistic timeline to complete those goals. “Unrealistic” can be said to compare against the planned timeline.

4.4 Question on the key action to address project failure

Besides, the question on what the key action the project managers used to address any project failure. Based on the project experience from the project managers, the response can be categorised into 2 main themes: Project monitoring, Reassess priority and resources.

Table 10

Category Units of data
Project monitoring Interviewee 2: “Project audit should be done to ascertain the viability of the project. This will enable the project management to know where to stress on the project to ensure there are ways to address project failure.”
Interviewee 3: “Project should be evaluated with the key stakeholders in order for the team management to ensure that it can go back on the right track. Monitoring always addresses the key issues which might lead to project failure as it gives the project management the insight on the project progress enabling us to counter the issues or come up with preventive measures.”
Interviewee 5: “One of the most important factors that will address project failure is communication. Project teams will be able to know what to do and when they have information about the project status and its failures. Hence, we are able to come up with measures which will enable the project to continue efficiently and effectively.”

As shown in Table 10, interviewees shared that enhance project monitoring may help to prevent project failure. The responsibilities and abilities of the project managers are the key to help preventing project failure, since project managers are the key person to observe failure throughout the project and put measures in place to ensure that the potential risks will not affect the project. Design a right tool to monitor the projects is necessary. The Interviewee 2 said that the project audit can be adopted to ensure that the auditors are able to do an audit according to the expectations. The Interviewee 3 stated that the evaluation of the project ensures that the different stages of the projects are achieved before the team move to the next stage or phase of the project. The monitoring process from end to end project flow is extremely imperative. Last but not least, effective communication has been raised by the Interviewee 5, which has also been fronted as one of the factors to address the project failure. After the team acknowledged the issues, project managers need to setup proper communication to come up the resolution to address those failure items. In the data findings, it is aligned with Vakili (2012), highlighted that audit review and evaluation is a must process to provide a lesson learnt and prevent any project failure in the coming future. In addition, Arbabi and Nazari (2010) also highlighted that enhance communication helps the whole project team to understand the problem and difficulties they have encountered in the project failure stage, such that this provide a chance to obtain the honest feedback from teammates and then to find solution to address the failure.

Table 11

Category Units of data
Reassess priority and resources Interviewee 1: “Per my experience, due to the timeline concern, the first and most importantly, is to prioritise the major task to make the project back to track.”
Interviewee 4: “When there was a red light to the project, it is very important to arrange suitable resources to prioritized issue and make sure that the resources are there to handle and pay high focus on the tasks assigned.”
Interviewee 6: “The fact is when project comes to failure, the current resources must be an issue or weakness that unable to achieve some of the tasks. In that case, I will look into the tasks and arrange resources to pay attention to the key tasks and to save back the project.”

As shown in Table 11, the Interviewee 1 has another view that due to the timeline concerns, the project managers should ensure that the reassessment of the priority is checked in every stage so that there is little or no deviations. To address the project failure, the project managers need to understand the priority of the activities and tasks, to rearrange the priority of the tasks and trace back into the expected plan that was established at the initial stage. The other element that is important in the application and prevention of project failure is the assignment of resources. It is inter-related to the reassess priority that mentioned by the Interviewee 1. In this regard, it means that the project managers should ensure that all the resources are used only of the purposes which they were meant for. For instance, the projects should ensure that the resources are applied to the relevant and valuable tasks which they were aligned for. To address project failure, the Interviewee 4 and Interviewee 6 also highlight in their own words that it is important to assess suitable resources, it will ensure that the project failure is being addressed in a high efficiency. Finally, the assignment of the resources must be done in such a way that the resources are first applied and provided for the achievement of the key stages and the main pillars of the project before the same are applied to the achievement of the other minor resources. This theme feedbacked by the interviewees are valuable in terms of their project experience, which the literature review of this dissertation has not mentioned much details to the resources assessment. Thus, this area can be further analysed in the future to observe its effectiveness and usefulness.

4.5 Question on any project management practices are used in your organization to ascertain project success

The interview came to the final question related to the current project management practices that the interviewees were using in their organization. This question is to understand the real-world practise that various organizations have adopted to standardize the project management framework. And it provides additional information out of the literature review where the researcher can understand how the organizations evaluate their current process after evaluation and lesson learnt from past project experience. In summary, 3 themes are identified below: Strengthen the project planning, Proper communication and Provide appropriate reporting tools.

Table 12

Category Units of data
Strengthen the project planning Interviewee 1: “Frist, we follow the PMP methodology. Secondly, our management has clear message that every project needs to create clear scope and objectives. Once the exercise is completed, it has to go through the approval for key management bodies in order to start the project. This ensures that the project won’t fail on the way as it provides the organization with the base reason as to why the project is crucial and should be performed.”
 Interviewee 3: “In my organization, we will have a detailed plan to ensure that the project is getting sufficient resources to bring its success. It ensures that a project stays on courses with strong monitoring and control in order that it does not deviate and is completed in the stipulated period.”
Interviewee 5: “Project are planned with the guidance of PMO (project management office) in our organization such that all factors which will lead to its success are factored in such as capital, labour, time among others. This enables the project team to have a clear direction on the way forward to carry out the project.”
Interviewee 6: “The project itself should have clear purposes with giving clear outlines on what it will deliver once the project is completed successfully. It is importance to the organization.”

Majority of interviewees explained that their organizations pay much higher attention and focus on the planning stage after the lesson learnt from project failure. The Interviewee 1 has applied the project management bodies like PMP methodology into the organization project implementation strategy. With a proper planning, defining a clear scope and objectives will help the project to run properly according to the common agreed plan. Other interviewees in this theme have provided the same view that their management required a clear planning with measurable objectives and deliverables in order to provide green light to start the project. As a result, the practises have provided a response to the major factor leads to project failure which mentioned by the interviewees in this interview.

Table 13

Category Units of data
Proper Communication Interviewee 4: “We also came across project failure before. And after the lesson leant, we found out that the clear problem is always due to miscommunication between stakeholders. As part of project management team, we are now more focus and aware of the project direction as constant communication gives the whole project team as well as key management on places to prioritise to avoid failures on the project. It also assures the shareholders of the project progress.”

Interviewee 4 insisted the importance of proper communication with the team, making sure that all stakeholders are with same understanding to the project direction and objectives. A good practise is that for any decision made by the project team, the project manager will need to make key management aware and involve into the final approval. Myers and Avison (2002) also suggested that a proper communication channel needed to be setup which helps to drive the project success.

Table 15

Category Units of data
Provide appropriate reporting tools Interviewee 2: “Our organization designed some required reporting templates for the project team to report regularly to the current works and status. This is to ensure that they monitor the project in right track, to ensure that everything is according to the project plan and also provide reports to the management for formal review and approve.”

An interesting feedback was received from the Interviewee 2 in terms of the undergoing of the project, which the organization requires regular reports sent to the management for updating the project status. This is like a checklist for the management to easily understand whether the project is going smooth and on track. Reporting tools are defined in according to the company culture. In this regard, if the team members have high degree of discipline and report the status with reflect to the truth. In such case, the management can receive the information for formal review and address any risks and issues may come across.

5.     Summary

In general, the results are aligned to the available findings from the studies done as per the review of literature. However, these are all variables and cannot be assumed to have an impact on all the projects automatically and individually. Therefore, a combination of factors may arise in real situation that bring the project failure. Throughout the data analysis process, the key findings of project failure include: scope changing, lack of proper communication, lack of professional guidance, unrealistic timeline. For instance, the data results indicate that changing of scope leads to alteration of important project possessions to activities that have been unidentified in the original scope of the project, resulting to stress on the project schedule and that every change in scope affects a project that has already been agreed. This aligns with the findings of Muller (2009) on the importance of clear scoping and the effect of scope creeping to the project failure. In addition, the interview result is in accordance to Pushak (2011), indicating that sometimes projects fail due to the fact that the project team have poor time management skills. The previous studies have also highlighted that statutory requirement can easily lead to project failure, for instance, when the key users have not been involved much in the beginning of the project. In this connection, several studies in the literature review shared that a proper framework on project management needed to be setup in order to provide the project team to follow as baseline. Finally, project managers play a vital role to monitor the project. This chapter helps to explore further from the feedback of project managers to their challenges faced in real project experience. Some of the findings like the project practice in their organizations are interesting and helpful, which may not be reference able via the literature review, but would be added values to future research analysis purpose.

CHAPTER FIVE – CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

1.     Introduction

This chapter gives the summary of the study findings, discussions of the research findings where the research findings are compared with findings of other studies which are relevant to the current study and recommendations. The study further demonstrates the recommendations that can be adopted by the other relevant authority and party to ensure effective project management and measures to avoid project failure. The researcher also makes recommendation for further studies.

2.     Importance of the research

This research anticipated to contribute ominously to the prevailing body of knowledge about factors that cause project failure and ascertaining best measures which can be implemented to prevent project failure. This was because the study delved into how factors causing project failure affects management of the project and performance. Unravelling this nexus provided methodological and theoretical insights into the need to develop measures that considered the conditions under which projects failure can be prevented. Although a amount of studies had been conducted in the area of project management Practices, such studies had a shortcoming in ascertaining factors that cause project failure. They further appeared to be focused more on project management practices in different sectors, organizations and countries. Also, the studies appeared to be more focused on other aspects of project success and less effort spent on identifying factors which cause project failure. If adopted, the results of this study would be useful in the project planning and management. Therefore, the subsequent were the specific beneficiaries of the study:

The findings of this study will provide organizations, governments and other agencies to comprehend the causes of project failure. This would help to formulate viable measures on management and planning of the projects. The findings of the studies would also provide various government and organizational project managers to enhance and improve the project management practices when implementing projects with the benefits of enhancing the performance of the project and their accountability to project stakeholders in terms of resources and the effect of the project they implement.

3.     Main Themes Summary

The specific 0objectives of this studywas to ascertain the most effective project management practices, to determine factors which result to failure of the project , to determine measures which can be done to preclude project failure and to suggest how companies and administrations can discourse various factors which lead to project failure.

  • Factors leading to Project failure

Scope

Majority of the interviewees responded that the unexpected change of the scope within the project is the main factor lead to project failure. The Interviewee 1 highlighted that the scope change leads to the diversion of the important project resources which against the original plan or those that have not been put as part of the project. The other respondents stated that the changes and varying in the scope of the projects bring more risk on the project and finally cannot achieve the original objectives. The changes in scope at the execution stage lead to the destruction of the various stages and such effects leads to diluting of the quality of the final output. Project managers have faced strong challenge to tackle this. There are constraints on the variable resources, timeline and the established budget. Since the budget was established with a given objective of establishing certain project goals, the changes in scoping requires extra resources in order to achieve the planned deadline. The implications of the schedule and the costs of the projects have significant effects to the project objectives. The findings align with the studies of Muller (2009) and Larson and Larson (2009), argued that by not understanding the scope of the project, the team can do less or more than is expected of them and that most projects fail due to project creep.

Communication

The interview results indicate that lack of proper communication within the project team brings project failure.  Changes are overlooked when communication is not timely. The Interviewee 5 added that “We prefer to what we are working on and to always be aware or be informed of any conclusions pertaining to the project.”, it somehow implied that an open communication in the organization is really a challenge. This is in line with the argument of Muller (2009), poor communication between the management, stakeholders and projects team will lead to definite failure of the project.

Timeline

Interviews demonstrated the importance of meeting timeline, he argued that ,

During a project everybody is time pressed and this will probably lead to conduct a superficial change impact examination”

This outcome aligns to the studies of Foster and Pushak (2011), sometimes projects fail due to  t the fact that the project team have poor time management skills.

  • Measures to Prevent project Failure

Right Control and Monitoring

The project managers should monitor and control the whole project implementation with the key stakeholders and the project teams. The communication between the key stakeholders and members of the teams is significant to the achievement and the success of the project. The respondents like the Interviewee 2 and Interviewee 5 explained that project managers have the key responsibilities to create a monitoring tool and carefully observe any response from the team in order to manage expectation and results. Indeed, some of the items and issues being communicated may be external and are not within the control of the project managers but can potentially influence the direction of the project. For example, the weather changes of catastrophic event. In that case, project managers need to evaluate the effects as well as make a good judgment to control the activities assigned to the team members. Some adjustment may need to be done in order to manage those risks and uncertainty. The data findings are aligned with the findings by Ewa (2013) that project managers play a key role to make sure every deliverable and milestone are on track. Monitoring and control suggested by the Project Management Institute (2018) also highlighted the points that the project should be monitored carefully from end to end process, in order to achieve what have been planned in the planning stage.

Set Realistic goals

Some of the interviewees illustrated that;

Interviewee 1:

“Setting unrealistic goals lead to team being frustrated and failure of projects. We should ensure that all the objectives, goals and milestones included in a project should be doable.”

Interviewee 6:

“Overestimate the goals set may lead to project failures in a number of ways… e.g. we may lack materials for the project, too much cost, it might take a long time to complete the project more than the anticipated time.”

The findings are aligned to the methodology of the Project Management Institute (2018), the project management team should focus on the objectives of the project as the basis. The final products includes: goals, resources as well as the time frame.

Priority and Resources

To address the project failure, the project managers need to understand the priority of the activities and tasks, to rearrange the priority of the tasks and trace back into the expected plan that was established at the initial stage. The other element that is important in the application and prevention of project failure is the assignment of resources. It is inter-related to the reassess priority that mentioned by the Interviewee 1. In this regard, it means that the project managers should ensure that all the resources are used only of the purposes which they were meant for. For instance, the projects should ensure that the resources are applied to the relevant and valuable tasks which they were aligned for. To address project failure, the Interviewee 4 and Interviewee 6 also highlight in their own words that it is important to assess suitable resources, it will ensure that the project failure is being addressed in a high efficiency. Finally, the assignment of the resources must be done in such a way that the resources are first applied and provided for the achievement of the key stages and the main pillars of the project before the same are applied to the achievement of the other minor resources.

Project Planning

Majority of interviewees explained that their organizations pay much higher attention and focus on the planning stage after the lesson learnt from project failure. The Interviewee 1 has applied the project management bodies like PMP methodology into the organization project implementation strategy. With a proper planning, defining a clear scope and objectives will help the project to run properly according to the common agreed plan.

Main themes in the research analysis aligned to the available findings on previous studies according to the literature review and the findings of the study were in accordance to the research objectives and the research questions.

4.     Academic and Practical Implications

The information from the study reveals various practical and academic implications for future study. It would be valuable to analyse application of skills, knowledge, techniques and tools of project managers which are essential in management of the project. This enables project activities meet the project requirements. It’s a strategic competency for organizations, which enable to organize to get project results which to fulfil the business goals. The project management involves the process of directing and controlling a project from start to finish. The purpose of project management is to predict as many risks and problems as possible besides planning, organizing and controlling the activities. So, the project is completed as successfully as possible in spite of all the risks. Project Management is formal discipline that has been developed to manage project. There are many activities that can benefit from project management like building a ship, construct a house, launching new products, information technology systems project and many more. Project Management is the process of guiding a project from its beginning through its performance to its end. There are includes three basic operations in project management, which are planning, organizing and controlling the project.

In addition to the practical implications, this study has also revealed implications for future research. Qualitative approaches have proven to be a rich foundation to discover factors which causes project failure. This study focused on individual interviews to discover in-depth reasons for project failures and preventive measures to enhance success of the projects. A suggestion for future study would be to introduce a new instrument such as focus groups to provide information on the dynamic between various professions who are involved in project planning, management and implementation. This instrument would become cantered on analysing different perspectives regarding project failure and its causes.

In summary, several factors influence project management. By understanding various mechanisms and measures to prevent project failure will enable project managers to carry out projects which are successful. To add on, developing understanding of the importance of project management will enable most mangers to carry out projects successfully.

5.     Recommendations for Future Research

The study made the following recommendations in regard to the findings of the study:

  • The study recommends that future research should focus on project management practices on companies.
  • The study recommends that future study should explore on project life cycle and what each stage of the life cycle entails.
  • The study also recommends that future studies should explore measures of project management and performance of the project.

6.     Research Limitations

Due to time and financial constraint the study was limited to 6 project managers in Hong Kong to participate and provide their professional feedback in related to this dissertation. The study was also limited by the amount of information obtained from the project managers. The interviewees may also have inadequate information regarding causes of project failure and measures to prevent project failure. Also the research encountered lack of cooperation from some respondents to obtain relevant information and this was overcome by convincing and requesting the interviewees for their cooperation and explained the importance of the research to them.

7.     Conclusion

The results are aligned to the available findings from the studies done as per the review of literature. However, these are all variables and cannot be assumed to have an impact on all the projects automatically and individually. Therefore, a combination of factors may arise in real situation that bring the project failure. Throughout the data analysis process, the key findings of project failure include: scope changing, lack of proper communication, lack of professional guidance, unrealistic timeline. For instance, the data results indicate that changing of scope leads to diversion of important project resources to activities that have been unidentified in the original project scope, leading to pressure on the project schedule and that every change in scope affects a project that has already been agreed. The previous studies have also highlighted that statutory requirement can easily lead to project failure, for instance, when the key users have not been involved much in the beginning of the project. In this connection, several studies in the literature review shared that a proper framework on project management needed to be setup in order to provide the project team to follow as baseline. Finally, project managers play a vital role to monitor the project. This chapter helps to explore further from the feedback of project managers to their challenges faced in real project experience. Some of the findings like the project practice in their organizations are interesting and helpful, which may not be reference able via the literature review, but would be added values to future research analysis purpose.

CHAPTER SIX – REFLECTIONS

To determine the best practices in experiential learning, it is necessary to first define experiential learning. In the words of Lewis and Williams (1994): “In its simplest form, experiential learning means learning from experience or learning by doing. Experiential education first immerses learners in an experience and then encourages reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking.” Reflecting on the experiences of this dissertation, it is realized that I am reflecting on a journey, my personal journey into the world of destination on projects. Like any journey, some of the most memorable experiences come from side trips that take us out of our comfort zones, changing us forever.

All the information that the research read around the topic was of great value and aligned with current project “trends” in most organizations (Drever, 1995). The researcher liked the independent study as it had more tasks to fulfil and demanded my academic view and critique of things.

The interviewees represent different fields of the dissertation’s topic, though interconnected within the subject of matter. The discussions in form of personal meetings allowed gaining insights into the perspectives of the different actors, hence approaching from a different angle.

The communication with the interviewees provided certain information that would have definitely been hard go get from merely examining the respective management articles and literature, as it is taken from direct experience (Barriball, and While, 1994). The aim of this dissertation is to evaluate theory and practice in the field of business. The theoretical framework as well as the information gained from the interviewees was very informative and useful.

To allow for some degree participant-led responses but also compensate for my lack of research experience, the researcher decided on semi-structured interviews (Gray et al., 2008). After the researcher had revised the skeletal interview script several times, and conducted a couple of practice runs with friends, the researcher was ready to undertake my interviews. The interviews generally went more smoothly as the researcher went along. The researcher probably also relaxed a little more with every interview as the researcher gained more experience and got closer to completing the research.

The most demanding and time-consuming requirement of the access arrangement was that of transcribing all interviews (Bloomberg and Volpe, 2018). The challenge was to choose which data the researcher would use, and to put it together in a way that was both interesting and engaging, to produce a unique “product”. As the researcher conducted more and more interviews, developed my theoretical structure, and reflected on what the researcher had observed, the researcher became more and more confident in his interpretation of events and behaviours as I understood them.

In interviewing, the researcher usually found no difficulty in getting people to talk. The issue was rather, moving from the “warming up” phase of the interview to the serious business of the interview, which the researcher expected would provide “good data” as well as “good conversation”. Since all interviews had to be transcribed, the challenge was to keep them short without sacrificing rapport building conversation (Kerzner and Kerzner, 2017). The researcher tried to conduct interviews in an open ended style, to allow the possibility of pursuing areas of inquiry that were significant to the individual. The coordination of interviews became a much more time-consuming and challenging task.

Confidentiality had been a serious issue from the time of negotiating access, particularly in the conduct of interviews (Todd et al, 2006). Researcher consciousness of the need for confidentiality grew stronger as the researcher conducted more interviews. It became clear to me that people were taking a risk in talking to the researcher, at least in their view. They needed constant reassurance that what they shared with the researcher would remain confidential. At the same time, the researcher had to acknowledge that he had only stepped into their world for a short time, and only to the extent to which they granted me admittance.

The conclusions of this dissertation are not generalized universally, as one of the aims is to investigate what factors that causes project failure. While reflecting on the experience of writing a thesis, the researcher came to the realization that the researcher truly enjoyed this process, at least most of it. The researcher is the type of person who loves to learn and always seeks to obtain more knowledge in and out of the classroom. The researcher is especially passionate about learning things that pertain to my major and my future career in the marketing sector.

The researcher spent many hours doing this project, but through it the researcher learned that, if the researcher set goals, he can achieve anything (Burke, 2013). As researcher reflect upon what he learned, that was most valuable; it was truly seeing that persistence pays. The researcher learned that he can achieve more than often he think he can, so just push.

The researcher can now look back and realize that this experience has helped me both as a student and as a young professional. Research and writing skills are not only valued in an academic setting, but also in the marketing sector as well. Researcher now feels much more confident in my writing abilities and research skills.

Additionally, working under my Supervising Professor, has given the researcher the opportunity to develop a mentor/mentee relationship with a professional of project management. Overall, the researcher feel that this has been both a valuable and enjoyable experience and I now feel prepared and excited for my upcoming academic and career years.

References

Akinyokun, O. C., Angaye C. O. and Ubaru, M. O. (2009) Factor analysis of the performance indices of ICT projects in the public sector of Nigerian economy. Journal of Technology Research, 1, pp. 1–15.

Barriball, K.L. and While, A., 1994. Collecting data using a semi-structured interview: a discussion paper. Journal of Advanced Nursing-Institutional Subscription19(2), pp.328-335.

Bloomberg, L.D. and Volpe, M., 2018. Completing your qualitative dissertation: A road map from beginning to end. Sage Publications.

Burke, R., 2013. Project management: planning and control techniques. New Jersey, USA.

Chapman, C. and Ward, S., 1996. Project risk management: processes, techniques and insights. John Wiley.

Davis, E.A., 2000. Scaffolding students’ knowledge integration: Prompts for reflection in KIE. International Journal of Science Education22(8), pp.819-837.

Drever, E., 1995. Using Semi-Structured Interviews in Small-Scale Research. A Teacher’s Guide.

Gray, R.M., Cook, M.B., Natera, M.T., Inglis, M.M. and Dodge, M.L., 2008. Project Management: The. In Managerial Process”, McGraw-Hill.

Kerzner, H. and Kerzner, H.R., 2017. Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. John Wiley & Sons.

Meredith, J.R., Mantel Jr, S.J. and Shafer, S.M., 2017. Project management: a managerial approach. John Wiley & Sons.

Messer, S.B., 1976. Reflection-impulsivity: A review. Psychological Bulletin83(6), p.1026.

Morris, P.W. and Hough, G.H., 1987. The anatomy of major projects: A study of the reality of project management.

Munns, A. K., & Bjeirmi, B. F. (1996). The role of project management in achieving project success. International journal of project management14(2), 81-87.

Todd, M.J., Smith, K. and Bannister, P., 2006. Supervising a social science undergraduate dissertation: staff experiences and perceptions. Teaching in higher education11(2), pp.161-173.

Whiting, L.S., 2008. Semi-structured interviews: Guidance for novice researchers. Nursing Standard22(23).

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