Enhancing Project Robustness: A Risk Management Perspective
Author: Gericke, Kilian
Supervisor: Schindler, V., Blessing, L., & Meyer, H.
Institution: Technische Universität Berlin
Product development projects are challenging management tasks. The complexity and dynamics of requirements and goals, the novelty of design tasks, and polytely (striving for multiple goals) can all affect the course of a project. Frequent consequences of these boundary conditions are unwanted events which inhibit a successful project. This work shall provide a better understanding of project robustness, its barriers and enablers. To achieve this goal, the work was conducted following a research approach based on the Design Research Methodology proposed by Blessing and Chakrabarti. The work is based on a comprehensive literature study which resulted in a model describing the causality of project failures. The underlying assumption of the project failure causality model, that companies which treat risks preventively and proactively are more likely to successfully finish their product development projects than other companies, is examined by an analysis of data from 141 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Design methodologies, project management, risk management and maturity models such as the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) are proposed in order to support product development. The study validates the importance of the use of these systematic approaches to support product development projects, but none of the considered approaches on its own will secure project success. This suggests that the expected benefit (a robust project) can only be achieved using different approaches conjointly.
While design methodologies and project management offer a rich support for development activities, risk management supports the project specific selection of appropriate risk treatment measures. A result of this work is a support for the pre-selection of risk treatment strategies based on the project failure causality model and its link to the proposed categorisation of risk treatment strategies. In this dissertation it is shown that the proposed categorisation of risk treatment strategies, the categorisation of the risk impact evolvement, and the question based support were easily understood by industrial experts. Their feedback validates the applicability and acceptance of the question based support as helpful for risk treatment strategy pre-selection, but also lead to a revision of the proposed support. The result is a matrix based support, intended to contribute to an enhancement of project robustness by supporting the process of risk treatment strategy selection which is currently only insufficiently supported. The matrix based support considers, in addition to traditional risk characteristics (likelihood of occurrence and severity of impact) the time-dependent evolvement of risk impacts.