Reducing risks in large scale projects : investigating the integration of systems engineering principles into project management

Van Heerden, Johan P. (2013-03)

Thesis (MScEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Project management (PM) is a very important field in engineering as a whole. The management of most projects has become more complex in recent times, due to greater technical complexity and the requirement of diversified skills. The management of risks is a very important process to improve the performance of a project. This is due to the link between project risks and objectives. However, this aspect of PM becomes increasingly more difficult to manage with increasing project complexity. For these reasons a need exists for more efficient PM methods. This thesis had three objectives. The first was to understand the processes and principles of PM, systems engineering (SE) and risk management. This was achieved by doing a literature study on the three fields. The second objective was to identify areas of greater risk within the management of projects. The final objective was to develop an effective generic model that illustrates the integration of SE principles into PM, with the goal to reduce the identified risks. Five risks were identified during this research. They were considered to be the most important in project management. This was accomplished by means of a questionnaire that was sent out to experts in the industry. It was established from this investigation that the following five risks, in order of importance, pose the biggest threat to the success of a project: 1. Poorly defined requirements; 2. Poor communication; 3. Poor risk management; 4. Lack of customer involvement; and 5. Inaccurate estimates. These risks were addressed by integrating the principles of SE into PM. SE is an iterative process that needs a diverse set of people, with a variety of skills, to achieve customer requirements. Various SE approaches and strategies were developed throughout the years. They were investigated to obtain insight into which of them can be used to improve PM. The top-down iterative development principles of SE offer a great advantage, and therefore it was appropriate to integrate these principles into PM. A model was developed as part of this thesis to illustrate the integration of SE principles into PM, and the importance of risk management. The model was named “Project Management Integrated with Systems Engineering Principles Model”. This tool can be used by engineers and their project teams to enhance the management of projects. It is also a generic tool that can be used for any project. The final step of this research was the validation of the model. This was done by means of expert evaluation. The purpose of this validation was to test whether the objectives of the research were met, and if the model was valid in the sense of ease of use and usefulness. The final objective of the validation process was to determine if the integration of systems engineering (SE) principles into project management (PM) were successful, and if it will reduce risks in large scale projects. It was concluded from this evaluation that its objectives were met and that the model successfully demonstrated the integration of SE into PM to reduce risks in large scale projects. Several recommendations were made that may enhance this study. They main recommendations are: 1. Researching the impact of communication on projects, by using case studies. 2. SE principles are mainly used in the first two phases of the model. Further investigation of using SE principles in phase three may be researched. 3. Customer involvement may be used during changes in the project. For this reason it is recommended that future studies may include investigation of the impact the customer has on project changes and the change management process. 4. The model could be tested in the industry on an active project. This will greatly improve the validity of the model.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Projekbestuur is ‘n baie belangrike veld in ingenieurswese as geheel. As gevolg van die toenemende tegniese kompleksiteit en die vereiste van verskillende vaardighede, het die bestuur van meeste projekte meer gekompliseerd geraak met tyd. Die bestuur van risiko’s is ‘n baie belangrike proses om die uitvoering van ‘n projek te verbeter. Hierdie aspek van projekbestuur het egter al hoe moeiliker geword om te bestuur. Dus hiervoor bestaan daar ‘n behoefte vir meer doeltreffende projekbestuur metodes. Hierdie tesis het drie doelwitte gehad. Die eerste doelwit was om die prosesse en beginsels van projekbestuur, stelsels ingenieurswese en risikobestuur te verstaan. Dit was bevredig deur ‘n literatuur studie wat gedoen is in die drie velde. Die tweede doelwit was gestel om die areas van groter risiko binne die bestuur van projekte te identifiseer. Die finale doelwit was die ontwilkkeling van ‘n effektiewe generiese model wat die integrasie van stelsels ingenieurswese beginsels binne projekbestuur demonstreer, met die doel om die geïdentifiseerde risiko’s te verminder. Vyf risiko’s, wat as die mees belangrikste in projekbestuur beskou word, was geïdentifiseer. Hierdie risiko’s was deur middel van ‘n vraelys, wat aan deskundiges in die industrie gestuur was, geïdentifiseer. Die risiko’s, gelys in volgorde van belangrikheid, was: 1. Swak bepaalde vereistes; 2. Swak kommunikasie; 3. Swak risiko bestuur; 4. Onnoukeurige skattings; en 5. Geen kliënt betrokkenheid. Vervolgens was hierdie risiko’s deur die integrasie van stelsels ingenieurswese beginsels in projekbestuur toegespreek. Stelsels ingenieurswese is ‘n herhalingsproses wat die kliënt se vereistes bevredig, deur gebruik te maak van ‘n diverse groep mense met ‘n verskeidenheid van vaardighede. Verskeie stelsels ingenieurswese benaderings en strategië is deur die jare ontwikkel. Hierdie benaderings en strategië was geondersoek om vas te stel watter van hulle toegepas kan word om projekbestuur te verbeter. Die “top-down” herhalende ontwikkeling beginsels van stelsels ingenieurswese bied ‘n groot voordeel, en dit was om hierdie rede toepaslik om dié beginsels in projekbestuur te integreer. ‘n Model was ontwikkel as deel van die navorsing om die integrasie van stelsels ingenieurswese beginsels binne projekbestuur te illustreer, asook die belangrikheid van risikobestuur. Die model is genoem “Project Management Integrated with Systems Engineering Principles Model”. Hierdie model kan deur ingenieurs en hul projekspanne gebruik word om die bestuur van projekte te versterk. Die finale stap van die navorsing was die evaluasie van die model. Dit was gedoen deur middel van deskundige evaluasie. Die validasie proses het twee doelwitte gehad. Die eerste doel was om te bepaal of die doelwitte van die ondersoek bereik was, asook om vas te stel of die model geldig was in die sin van gemak van gebruik en bruikbaarheid. Die tweede doel van die validasie proses was om te bepaal of die model suksesvol die integrasie van stelsels ingenieurswese binne projekbestuur gedemonstreer het, en of hierdie integrasie risiko’s in groot skaalse projekte sal verminder. Dit was afgelei van die evaluasie dat die model wel suksesvol die integrasie van stelsels ingenieurswese binne projekbestuur demonstreer om risiko’s in grootskaalse projekte te verminder. Verskeie aanbevelings was gemaak wat hierdie navorsing kan versterk in waarde. Die hoof aanbevelings was: 1. Die impak wat kommunikasie op projekte het kan geondersoek word deur middel van gevallestudies. 2. Stelsels ingenieurswese beginsels is hoofsaaklik gedurende die eerste twee fases van die model gebruik. Die gebruik van stelsels ingenieurswese beginsels in fase drie kan verder ondersoek word. 3. Kliënt betrokkenheid gedurende veranderinge in ‘n projek kan gebruik word. Om hierdie rede word dit aanbeveel dat verdere studies die kliënt se impak op projek veranderings en verandering in bestuursproses ondersoek word. 4. Die model kan getoets word in die industrie op ‘n aktiewe projek. Dit sal die geldigheid van die model grootliks verbeter.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80151
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