POLICY BRIEF | eGovernment Project Management Methodologies: Problems & Solutions
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POLICY BRIEF | eGovernment Project Management Methodologies: Problems & Solutions

By Shauneen Furlong

Abstract: The case for transformational eGovernment continues unabated; impatient stakeholders are more demanding; people, process and content are profoundly impacted; opportunity is rampart - but so is risk and complexity; still, transformational eGovernment remains more theoretical than practical.

POLICY BRIEF | eGovernment Project Management Methodologies: Problems & Solutions

Execution has faltered and relief is not obvious. Enhanced project management has made progress in advancing eGovernment by applying enhanced project management in a holistic manner so that project activities are fully integrated with on-going operational activities: all with an emphasis on measurable results and outcomes.

In this article, author propose a technical paper which concludes that there is another dimension to the transformational eGovernment navigation tool-kit that coalesces with enhanced project management and creates a multi-dimensional approach to transformation; it is existential change leadership that focuses on human mindset behavior. Thus, the next step in the research is to examine a two-pronged approach (enhanced project management and existential change leadership) to respond to the challenges and barriers that have long impeded transformational eGovernment progress and the accountability vacuum for the elusive transformational breakthrough results. 

The current more popular international project management methodologies, PRINCE2 and PMBOK, along with a litany of others, do not meet the needs of eGovernment. eGovernment failure is disappointing and much research has been dedicated to examine why and if project management could be the culprit. Clearly, project management plays a significant role. This paper introduces the proposition that current parlance and management culture accepts that the science of project management is only enacted once a project has been identified.

Inexplicably, common practice does not acknowledge that it is the application of the science of project management to any operational endeavor that creates a specific project. The project is born through the application of the project management principles by bringing rigor, discipline, and specificity to a challenging and complex, though often vague, operational endeavor and objective.

In addition, the science of project management expressed through popular methodologies does not address nor assist with the synergistic compendium of ten barriers and challenges to international eGovernment success recently studied (Furlong, 2011; Furlong, 2012). Furthermore, the discipline of change management is not one of the knowledge areas in the generally accepted project management methodologies.

This paper describes these barriers and challenges and it introduces how project management methodologies fail to address them and how an eGovernment tailored project management solution could mitigate them. In fact, this paper states that these elements must be tackled in order to advance the transformational eGovernment agenda that so many countries strive to attain. As well, this paper addresses the need for effective change management through existential change leadership.

This section outlines the current situation and the inadequacy of the current project management methodologies and their failings; introduces the compendium of ten barriers each requiring attention; and offers preliminary solutions to governments and commercial organizations to digest.

In these world-wide methodologies and other more parochial ones, methodologies, time-honored project management processes associated with project integration, scope, schedule, cost, quality, resource, communications, risk, and procurement are often used as safeguards that split management and control of the projects and thereby water-down accountability for project development and implementation success. In no case is there a domain within the methodologies that directly and specifically provides the transformational eGovernment project manager with the tools to cope with the intrinsic problems that impede transformational eGovernment (Furlong, 2011; Furlong, 2012).

The objective of this paper is to revamp project management methodologies by transforming them from process-bound mechanisms to a problem and results oriented instrument. Akin to the early medical profession’s emphasis on procedure (i.e., in order to preclude the adage that the operation was a success but the patient died) the project management profession has too long suffered from the use of project management methodologies that focus on procedures and processes instead of those that focus on results and accountability. Futuristic transformational eGovernment project management methodologies must contribute to the successful management of transformational eGovernment projects. They must move well beyond the generic body of knowledge that is generally recognized as good practice. Instead, the enhanced methodologies must address the very caveat that existing methodologies hedge against; that is, the embracement of the responsibility for management to obtain successful results for transformational eGovernment projects. The enhanced methodologies must reach above and beyond the goals to provide professional project management certification; standardization of processes, skills, tools, and techniques; and ethical codes of conduct. They must address a higher objective. The required methodology must enhance the science of transformational eGovernment project management so that the project team can be held accountable for results achieved. The project manager and team are not stewards of the administrative procedures; they are responsible for project success and outcomes.

Various key transformational eGovernment organizations (United Nations, 2010; West, 2007) have completed studies that identify the causes of transformational eGovernment project failure and, just as importantly, they have identified, described, and analyzed the reasons for project development and implementation success. Current project management methodologies unwittingly allow the project manager to escape his accountability by retreating behind the mantra – “we’re on budget; we’re on time; you changed the requirements.” These processes protect her or him at the expense of project results-oriented success as opposed to process-oriented success.

Current transformational eGovernment project management is built on the broad project management components such as standardized frameworks, governance, certifications, and qualifications; and administrative tools and techniques that were developed for a different time and for indifferent industries, some of which no longer exist or are radically changed like agriculture, auto making and mining coal. These project components are focused on the techniques and science of project methodology as opposed to the successful delivery of project products, services, and results; and on the solving of problems and barriers to project success.

For example, current project methodologies related to project cost management involve estimating, budgeting, and controlling costs. These processes, however, can lead to the creation, control, and analysis of an array of data points that can overwhelm and even misinform the project manager, the project team, and key project stakeholders. Other project management domains such as project quality management include process elements such as cost benefit analysis, control charts, bench marking, statistical sampling, and flowcharting.

The point is that ineffective project management is one of most significant reasons for transformational eGovernment failure (Aikens, 2012b; Misuraca, 2009), and that the focus on project methodology instead of project results is the root cause of ineffective project management. Methodology trumps results.

Time-honored project management administrative processes such as scope, schedule, cost, quality, resources, communications, risk, and procurement often tend to split the management and control of the projects and dilutes the accountability for project success.

Nevertheless, enhanced project management redirects the definition of projects (particularly ICT work) towards results. It means existing in a futuristic milieu of complexity and uncertainty wherein it is the application of the science of project management to any endeavor that creates a project, not the project start-up definition. Futuristic projects will be created, they will not be defined; they will be created by evolution, unintended consequences, and responsive iteration that solves problems and produces project results. Futuristic projects will encompass a significant component of existential change leadership to cope with the behavior and mind-set uncertainty that permeates projects in an ever-faster changing environment.

In eGovernment project management enhancements, management of eGovernment projects would focus on project problems rather than methodological processes. The enhanced project management solution would provide the tools, techniques, and mind-sets to account for the impact of the holistic, synergistic challenges and barriers that surround and influence eGovernment projects. 

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About The Author:

Shauneen Furlong
Ottawa, Canada/Liverpool, United Kingdom, SFurlong@territorialcommunications.com

Publication Details:

JeDEM 7(2): 1-23, 2015 ISSN 2075-9517 http://www.jedem.org 1 CC: Creative Commons License, 2015. International Challenges to Transformational Government: Enhanced Project Management Identifies Need for Existential Change