Using these earlier experiences as a platform, we have continually reinvented our research agenda and are currently focusing on four areas, which will be
Managing project performance has traditionally focused on how well a team met its intended objectives, e.g., cost, schedule, and performance targets. Although much work has been
Managing Senior Management Expectations and Meeting the Business Needs of the Project
Managing Stakeholder Relationships
Managing Progress and Reviewing Achievements
Planning and Managing the Future
Managing the Project Team
Self-Management—Managing Individual Effectiveness.
While the above self-analysis offers many supplemental advantages over many of the more traditional means of assessing project performance, there are important limitations of the Elbeick and Thomas instrument. First, their instrument focuses primarily on the project leader and his activities. While such a focus is helpful, a more robust approach would involve all team
Another limitation of the Elbeik and Thomas instrument is that the role of the project leader as "entrepreneur" is ignored. While some of the dimensions of this role may be
In using similar instruments in several in-company and public programs for project managers, we have
The focus of our research is to improve upon existing instruments and methods in order that project managers and their teams can engage in continuous improvement activities. Our research approach involves a review of the literature on performance assessment; interviews with senior managers who manage project managers; and a field study of project leaders and members of their teams. The project leaders are all responsible for managing
Our first task is reviewing the literature and identifying the various metrics discussed in the literature to measure project performance (Brown and Eisenhardt 1995; Levi and Slem 1995; Cordero, Farris, and DiTomaso 1998; Elbeik and Thomas 1998). In addition, we are reviewing the measures used in the commercially available project management assessment tools. We are currently classifying and assessing the various performance measures we identify from these sources.
Our second task is conducting interviews with senior managers who manage, supervise, and/or sponsor project managers in the three industries previously noted. The purpose is to identify the metrics these senior managers actually use and the measures that they see as
This phase entails interviews with project leaders and two or three members of their teams to identify how they perceive they are actually evaluated and what type of assessment metrics would be most useful to them. As with the senior managers, we will obtain a ranking of performance metrics—actual and desired—for team leaders and team members. We also are having project leaders, team members, and senior managers evaluate various commercially available team assessment instruments. In this phase we also are examining how project leaders and their team members experience project evaluation processes. What types of feedback are helpful and what feedback forms are not helpful, perhaps even destructive?
Based on the results of Phases 1, 2, and 3, a performance assessment instrument will be developed that can be used to evaluate project leader performance, project team performance, and overall project performance. As noted, this instrument will help various stakeholders assess and contribute to project performance at multiple points during the life of a project.
There has been considerable anecdotal evidence that project managers and their teams often experience high degrees of stress in carrying out their assignments. My colleague and I have been
In our study of stress in project teams, we conducted an
While difficult to ascertain, we also wanted to know if and how stress affects performance. Using a five-point scale, which ranged from "a very great extent" to "not at all", 69 percent of the project team members indicated that stress affected performance from "some" to "a very great extent." When we probed how stress impacted performance, project members noted that high stress levels often affect concentration, decision-making performance, productivity, and that it can negatively impact interpersonal relations. Some respondents noted that stress also could lead to "burn-out", "negative attitudes toward work", and "
We also studied how the degree of stress experienced changes over a project's development cycle. We used a framework, which we have used in prior research projects, to denote a generalized project development life cycle (Thamhain and Wilemon 1975). This framework defines a project as consisting of four phases, namely 1)
—the project is just getting started and the team is being
In the Project Formation Phase stressors included creating the plan for the project, team development issues, gaining goal and role clarity, dealing with incomplete and, in some instances, conflicting information, and lack of resources to carry out the project's requirements.
, we found that gaining team member cooperation was particularly stressful, as was communicating with other groups and departments. Dealing with
Lack of authority, resources, and management support were examples of major stressors in the Main Phase of projects. Several project team members noted that firefighting, crisis management, and keeping the project focused were also important stressors in this phase. In addition, attempts to maintain a team's energy and motivation were found stressful in this phase.
The final stage,
, revealed several stressors. Performance concerns and
Based on our work and others' research, there are several questions about stress and its impact, which
What role does stress play in project performance? Can stress be a positive
Can measures be developed to assess a team member's tolerance for stress? If so, can these measures benefit team leaders and their project teams? Can such a measure be useful in making project assignments?
How useful might periodic checks on stress levels be for project teams and their members?
Since many project teams
Do different types of development projects influence the degree of stress experienced by team members? For example, do more complex projects (
As noted, we suggest that the potential for project-
While partnering has been practiced for many
Companies engage in partnering NPD projects and programs for a variety of reasons (Eisenhardt and Galunic 2000). Some companies simply lack the resources to undertake a major development program. Examples of resources may include technological capabilities, financial, marketing,
Become more agile
Cut development time
Develop synergies not
Save development funds
Reduce capital costs, e.g., new plant equipment
In an earlier study we identified a number of steps/phases that partnering companies often follow in creating and developing a relationship with another company (Millson, Raj, and Wilemon 1996). We are using this framework in our current study on project partnering. These phases include:
Firms may realize that in order to develop a new product, they require capabilities that they do not currently possess and it is too costly or takes too long to develop them. For example, a smaller high-technology company may have great technology yet it lacks access to the market. In another case, a technology-based company lacks the managerial and industry knowledge to successfully enter a new market. Another example is when a company has an idea but lacks the manufacturing and marketing capabilities to successfully commercialize the idea. The discovery of these missing capabilities and how a partner might help resolve the identified limitations occurs in the awareness stage. In addition, the types and characteristics of potential
Once limitations have been acknowledged and potential partners identified, the exploration phase begins. When each partner sees the potential benefits of cooperating together, scenarios are developed that help identify how each partner can "win" by establishing a productive relationship. As we noted in our earlier work, issues around expectations, alliance leadership, power, control, and reporting relationships are identified and discussed. Plans for executing the new product project are discussed even though these may be preliminary plans. In effect, they are "scenarios" of the NPD process
If the exploration phase proves satisfactory and clear potential mutual benefits arise from partnering, then the alliance enters the commitment phase. Here the actual day-to-day management of the alliance begins. The front-end investment makes "switching costs" very high. This can be a major motivator in making a partnership work.
There are several research issues involved when two or more companies partner their development efforts. While some of these issues have been explored via various research projects, more systematic, holistic studies are needed. Our work is focusing on three industries, namely, telecommunications equipment, medical devices, and biotechnology. Companies in these industries often rely on partnering in order to develop new products and achieve their business objectives.
Our objective is to obtain a total of approximately fifty "sets of alliance partners" in the three industry grouping. We will primarily focus on the project team responsible for managing the partnership. In some cases there will be more than the simple model of a partnership between two companies since complex development projects may require several partners. Our goal is to interview a minimum of fifteen sets of partners in each of the three industries. Examples of the types of questions we will use in our interview follow:
What challenges occur as two different project teams attempt to coordinate their development efforts?
What senior management actions are most helpful in supporting partnered projects?
What issues are likely to arise when two organizations of
What issues arise in sharing
What communication challenges develop when allying project teams carry out their work?
What issues are
What conflicts are likely to occur between allying project teams? What resolution approaches do
What role does trust play in project performance and in the quality of teamwork?
What "processes" appear
What problems are encountered when computer technology (information technology [IT] systems) are integrated to help manage partnered projects? What, if any, are the legal implications of linked IT systems in the case of performance failures, accidents, and so on?
What methods do partnering teams use to capture, store, and retrieve the learning that occurs during the project? How effective are these methods?
How are stakeholders involved in partnered projects? What issues are likely to occur in managing multiple stakeholders?
What processes are used to identify and manage risks in partnered projects?
Based on our interview results, a questionnaire will be developed and administered to focus on our most important findings. The aim of our research on partnering projects is to shed new light on how this process can be conducted more efficiently and effectively. All
A review of the literature on project management reveals that many of the studies that have focused on the human aspects of project management (Barczak and Wilemon 1992) reveal a focus on project leader behaviors, e.g., project leadership effectiveness, conflict management, performance
One of the areas we were interested in is how team members viewed "successful" and "
Team members also noted the importance of achieving specific project accomplishments. These team members wanted their project assignments to be meaningful in terms of accomplishing the goals of the project.
When we asked team members what contributed to their least successful project experiences, the perceived lack of support from senior management was noted. Others noted that senior management support for their projects often waned over time. This created a perception that the work they were performing was of limited value. We also found that a lack of clear goals was the second most important determinant to the organization of an unsuccessful experience. The third reason for an unsuccessful experience related to teamwork problems, e.g., having to work with people who did not have the experience or skills. Finally, the lack of teamwork
We wanted to see how clear team members were regarding how they were selected, rewarded, and evaluated for their efforts. While some research has been conducted on these issues in various project team settings, it has been limited. We found that team members were clear in terms of how they were selected (approximately 90 percent). The method of selection, however, varied considerably. Some team members asked for their assignments; the project team leader selected others; some were assigned by their manager; while others were placed on teams by default.
While team members were
Regarding rewards, only 46 percent of our respondents were clear about how they were rewarded for their project performance. We found it interesting that 44 percent noted that, other than keeping their jobs, they received no special rewards for their project work.
We were particularly interested in determining how project team members viewed their project leaders. What are the qualities of an effective team leader from the perspective of a team member? We found several factors team members experienced with regards to their leaders. First, nearly 58 percent noted that "team management skills" were the most important quality of an effective project leader. Our probes into this issue revealed that project leader activities such as motivating, coaching, and leading were the most important factors. Second, nearly 52 percent noted that the personal qualities of the team leader were especially important. Examples of personal qualities included motivated, easy to work with, and respected. The third quality found was the ability to manage the process/project (42 percent). The skills involved here included setting goals, assigning/negotiating roles, project planning, meeting management, dealing with stakeholders, and assessing performance.
Many studies have been conducted on the sources of conflict in project-oriented work environments (Thamhain and Wilemon 1975; Pelled and Alder 1994). We found, however, that few specific studies focused solely on how team members experienced conflicts, e.g., the sources and impacts. We found that nearly 54 percent of team members found that company policies, systems, and procedures were the major sources of conflict. These team members often noted that these were senior management issues and responsibilities and were beyond their control. Yet, their projects could be significantly influenced and impacted by these issues (Pinto, Pinto, and Prescott 1993).
Interestingly, the second most important source of conflict noted by 48 percent of the interviewees centered around "teamwork issues." Examples included interpersonal conflicts, communication breakdowns, personal
The third category of conflict noted by 32 percent of the team members focused on "task issues", which created conflict and
We found that these conflicts often had a negative impact on team members. Nearly 50 percent of the team members noted that conflicts affected them
One of the most interesting findings in our study of project team members is that only about 42 percent were clear about how their company's NPD process functioned; 28 percent were unclear; and about 30 percent were both clear and unclear about their development processes (Barczak and Wilemon 2000). Respondents noted that in some cases their company had an NPD process but it was not used, others noted that their company did not have a development process and, in some cases, the respondents noted that each new development team had to
We also found that only 50 percent of the team members believed that their process was effective while approximately 32 percent viewed their development process as ineffective. Effectiveness was defined as being useful and helpful to the project team. Regarding
We found that while 66 percent of the project team members were clear on the objectives for their development projects, another 34 percent were not clear or somewhat clear. Project clarity resulted from the efforts of the project leader to effectively
There are several research questions that have developed during this project that warrant additional study. Examples of these questions include:
What is the impact of project team experiences on team members' perceptions of project work? For example, how does a "negative experience" shape one's view of project work, particularly in the early phases of one's career?
What "motivators" are particularly important for young, inexperienced team members? Which motivators are especially important for experienced, senior team members?
What mechanisms can project managers use to ensure proper skill-blending and generational-blending within a team?
What is the impact of a project team's "internal culture" on a team's ability to work with other supporting functional groups, customers, and other stakeholders?
What can management do to ensure that all project participants are clear on team selection methods, evaluation procedures, rewards, and development processes?