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Table of Contents

Optimizing information and communication technology (ICT) project life cycles (PLC) in developed countries with a focus on Qatar and the middle east – Part 6

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Chapter 3. Methodology

Project management is diverted toward a great focus on IT as well as ICT where appropriate. Many papers have been published to discuss and evaluate project management on IT aspects. Next, the question faced by this researcher was ‘How would this dissertation gain information about IT project cycle in Qatar?’ The answer simply lay in the hands of Qatari IT/ICT professionals whom were interviewed for this purpose. A questionnaire was developed based on the Hexagonal approach with consideration of the six factors or characteristics: a) Time, b) Budget, c) Quality, d) Scope, e) Risk, and f) Resources.

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Moreover, this researcher wanted to know the stakeholders’ analysis of IT/ICT projects and their definitions. Stakeholders are identified as persons or groups who have a decided interest in project. They would influence the project either positively or negatively. Table 1 below has shared the important information about project stakeholders. They are divided into four groups depending on their interests and impact on the project. The first group who need to be ‘managed closely’ must not be ignored by the PM. In fact, the PM should take care to pay careful attention to their input and the special interest they have in a project. ‘Mange closely’ is the group whose opinion and ideas should be taken into consideration at all times. The stakeholders in the ‘manage closely’ group include the Project Managers, the Project Team, and the External Contractors who have been contracted as part of the Project Team.

The second group of stakeholders who are described in Table 1 are those that must be ‘kept satisfied.’ This group should be kept informed during the project initiation and start-up. They should be informed about the progress of the project. The do hold a key role before the

project starts yet their role becomes reduced when the project kicks off and for the duration of the project. The stakeholders of the second group which needs to be ‘kept satisfied’ have been listed in the table as the Investor, the Customer, the Government sector which has oversight, and the owner of the company where the project is being performed. The third group of stakeholders must be kept informed. The ‘keep informed’ group are the IT/ICT Research and Development companies “interested in creating and customizing the IT services and product to the standards needed” (Table 1).

Table 1. Stakeholder’s Role in IT Projects

Stakeholder Stakeholder Interest in Project Assessment of Impact on the project Potential Strategies for Obtaining Support or Reducing Obstacles Position on Stakeholder Map
Project Managers Key manager High Key personal of the project. Their job to finish task on time, under budge, with the highest quality using available resources, following the scope and minimizing calculated risks.
There are more than one project manager for Window Vista, since the project is big with multi tasks to complete
Manage Closely
Project Team Worker High People who will fulfill task. Expect to be motivated and managed by project manager. They fully understand the project objective and scope to complete all tasks. Manage Closely
Investor High Keep them informed about project progress with reports and meeting.
Understanding their main interest is to finish the project on time, and make the maximum profit of it.
Make sure to understand the objective and scope of the project
Keep Satisfied
Customer Investor High Keep satisfied during the project and make sure to fulfill their needs up to the maximum quality Keep Satisfied
Government sector Medium Keep informed about the project if it is related to their objectives Keep Satisfied
Non- Government sector Medium Monitor them in which to be sure that there would be no overlaps of work Monitor
Nationals Low Might be affected by project if it is to be deployed thorough the nation. Manage the cultural aspect of the project Monitor
Project Owner (company) Investor High Project company might not be investing money in project, but they would allocate resources to finish the project Keep Satisfied
IT R&D High IT R&D: companies whom are interested in creating and customizing the IT services and products to the standards needed Keep informed
Competitors (non- Influential) Low They might not be able to influence, however they could have influence on customers. In order to minimize their impact it is the best to fulfill the costumers need Monitor
Competitors (Influential) High People who can result the project to fail managing the cash flow or how project resources are managed Manage closely
External Contractors (part of Project Team) High People who will fulfill task. Expect to be motivated and managed by project manager. They fully understand the project objective and scope to complete all tasks Manage closely

They do have a high impact on the project and therefore must be kept informed about the project’s progress; although they do not have a lot of power during the project. The fourth group who take the stakeholder position of ‘Monitor’ on the stakeholder map include the Non-governmental sector, Nationals, and the company’s Competitors. This group is not critical to the core of the project, but they should be monitored as part of risk management. The stakeholders table considered the project development period. (LAC SHR 2000) Table 1 has consolidated information from the WHO which identifies the IT Projects’ Stakeholders, notes their level of interest, assessment of their impact during the project period, managing strategies of the groups and their position on the stakeholders map.

3.1. Method

First, the business pages, newspapers and university catalogues were previewed in order to evaluate where best to find professionals to interview. Communication with professors and business contacts helped to focus on the most likely professionals in Qatar who could add valuable information to this research. Professionals that had work experience in the area of IT/ICT were necessary in order to evaluate what had happened in their careers with respect to projects, which had succeeded, or projects, which had failed. Three criteria were set at the outset for the main characteristics necessary in professionals with potential for sharing useful insights. Firstly, the professionals needed to be working in Qatar. Secondly, the professionals needed to have worked in the area of IT and/or ICT for several years. Thirdly, the professionals needed to be involved at this time in IT or ICT project management. When a professional met these three criteria, they were added to a list of professionals to contact. In general, the purpose of the research was to review different sectors and IT/ICT usage in Qatar. Qatari project management professionals would be interviewed. Those professionals would each be from different companies. Essentially the research covered four industry sectors: oil and gas, IT outsourcing company, research institute, and client side, with input from the different companies’ current PMs.

The idea of the PMBOK® hexagonal factors would be considered for each of the current projects in order to give a clear point of view on how the projects have been managed by that technique. After that, the interviewees would be asked about the major obstacles they have faced, in general but also specifically due to working in Qatari. Most important of all, the solutions to problems inherent in IT/ICT projects would be explored to learn project managements’ techniques, which could be used to overcome those obstacles.

The next step before contacting any potential interviewees was to design the questionnaire to be used in the survey for this research. Table 2 offers the General Survey Questions, which would act as a template for questions during interviews. Table 2 clearly has not included questions that can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ The methodology used is qualitative. The only quantitative variables are the number of professionals who were contacted for the survey and the number of professionals who agreed to have their interviews shared publicly in the research. All of the professionals were approached personally to ask for their participation. Each professional who agreed to be interviewed could then be questioned face-to-face by the researcher. The researcher took notes at the time of the interviewer. The participants were asked if they would or would not share their interview data publicly. The full names of the professionals approached for an interview have not been shared in this research. To further ensure anonymity the interview results have no name at only a number to identify them. The participants who ended up with their interview data in this research have been random from the point of view of the researcher because there was no way to predict a) who would agree to participate, and b) who would agree to have their interview data publicly published in the research document.

Table 2. Survey Questions

The General Survey Questions

1. What is your title at the company?

2. What is your background in IT?

3. Please describe your company.

4. Please describe the main phases of your projects.

5. Please describe the main challenges you face in completing projects?

(in your company)

(with clients)

(in Qatar)

6. What do you think about using the hexagonal approach to running projects?

7. Can you describe how the hexagonal approach relates to your work?

8. Do you have any final thoughts to share?

The questions, which have been included in Table 2, are purposely general and allow for open ended answers. The questions were designed to allow the interviewees a chance to talk about their personal experiences and their personal judgements on what makes a project a success or a failure. The only directed answers were for the job title of the interviewee and the name of the company where they currently work. Four of the questions emphasize the descriptive nature of the answers the researcher desired.

a) Please describe your company.

b) Please describe the main phases of your projects.

c) Please describe the main challenges you face in completing your projects.

And d) Can you describe the hexagonal approach which relates to your work.

A question concerning the hexagonal approach (What do you think about using the hexagonal approach to running projects?) was asked in order to address a core issue of this research. At the end, the interviewees were asked if they had any more comments or final thoughts to add. In this way, the design of the questionnaire has given the participants a way to share their thoughts, ideas and comments openly without being constrained. The questionnaire was also designed in this way in order to allow the interviewer to take advantage of opportunities to ask follow-up questions specific to the subject at hand.

3.2. Selected methodology

Robert K. Yin has based the methodology selected upon the book Case Study: Design and Methods. Also from the work of Tellis (1997) who has noted that

“A case study research is not a sampling research; that is a fact asserted by all the major researchers in the field . . . however, selecting cases must be done so as to maximize what can be learned in the period of time available for the study.” (This means that) “The unit of analysis is a critical factor in the case study. It is typically a system of action rather than an individual or group of individuals. Case studies tend to be selective, focusing on one or two issues that are fundamental to understanding the system being examined.” (Intro.)

There are three different types of case studies a) exploratory, b) descriptive, and c) explanatory (Yin, 2008, p. 7). These three types overlap but in this study a survey was used to explain the current situation of the IT/ICT industry in Qatar. According to Yin (2008) a survey method asks the questions “who, what, where, how many, how much?” whereas a case study asks the question “how and why?” (p. 8). The survey and the case study do need to have control of behavioural events during the study. Both method focus on contemporary event.

Interviews must focus on the topic of the case study. The interviews must also provide valuable information so that any “perceived causal inferences and explanations” can be clearly understood (Yin, 2008, p. 102). Problems do exist with the interview methodology though. For example, fewer people may want to participate because of privacy issues. The questions have to be designed and spoken very carefully so avoid bias. Participants may be biased by the question. Alternatively, participants may be biased by how the question is asked. The person being interviewed may behave ‘reflexively’ offering the answers they think the interviewer wants. (Yin, 2008, 102) Another problem is the making mistakes while writing down the answers to the questions.

 

3.3. Profiles of Potential Interviewees

The managers and chief executives who were asked to participate in the survey represent over one and a half centuries of expertise in Information and Communication Technologies. Eleven professionals total were contacted in order to request an interview. Tables 3 through 11 below give a brief description of each person. Table 3 describes Fahad, a Project Manager who currently works at the only company in Qatar, which provides full IT, outsourcing, Meeza. The five main service provided by Meeza include

  1. Managed IT Services,
  2. Data Centre Services,
  3. Cloud Services,
  4. Consulting Services, and
  5. Workplace Services.

In fact Professional #9, Fadel, is the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of Meeza. Each of these professionals works at the same company but they are employed at different levels of management. Sami, Professional #6 is also a CIO. His company is the ORYX GTL, which has been in Qatar since 2007. This company is an investment company, which deals with the gas and oil industry. Professional #10 is also in upper management, a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), working at Qatar Satellite; the only Qatari satellite company. Like Fahad, Professionals #3, #7 and #11 currently work as project managers.

Table 3. Professional #1

One Strategic Research Director was approached. His name, Lucio, has been listed as Professional #2. He works at the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QTSP) and deals with Research and Development (R&D) projects. Two project engineers were targeted as potential participants; Professional #4 (Saad) and Professional #5 (Khalid). Saad is an IT Project Engineer for the Qatar Foundation (QF). Meeza was the primary provider for the QF’s IT development and integration. The QF is an asset established in order to support the educational, scientific, and development community of Qatar. Meeza is now in charge of the IT needs for the foundation. Professional # 11, Mohammed is an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) PM though. He has a degree in Knowledge Management and currently works on projects, which concern the Qatari Health sector.

Table 4. Professional #2

Table 5. Professional #3

Table 6. Professional #4

Table 7. Professional #5

Table 8. Professional #6

Table 9. Professional #7

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Table 10. Professional #8

Table 11. Professional #9

Table 12. Professional #10

Table 13. Professional #11

3.4. Conclusion

This chapter offered an understanding of the dynamics and different roles in project management processes in order to justify the methodologies used to evaluate the main thesis of this research. The open-ended survey questions have been listed in a table. The survey methodology based on the Yin methodology in Case Study: Design and Methods was described. The characteristics of the potential candidates for interviewees were offered in table form. The professionals ranged in types of position from IT Project Managers and Engineers to Chief Investment Officers.

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