University dissertation from Institutionen för Innovation, Design och Produktutveckling

Abstract: An increasing number of companies are focusing their efforts on project management. Project management is frequently used as an enabler for meeting an uncertain and turbulent environment. Consequently, the overall effectiveness of the project management process is essential for long-term profitability. The aim and final effects of project management are to predict the outcome, i.e. cost, time and quality. However, uncertainty is inherent in the objectives of the project itself, as we use assumptions and expectations in defining and realizing the outcome of the project. A project’s ability to identify and react to uncertainty will influence the outcome of the project. Presently, risk management processes exist in several forms and are often used to manage uncertainty. However, it is frequently argued in academia as well as for the practitioner that risk management does not live up to expected results. The overall objective of this research is to improve the process for managing risks and opportunities within a project organization. The research starts from the single project view, followed by the strategic link to business strategy by including the project portfolio management perspective. Finally, the research focuses on opportunities and the ability of a project to realize them. Thus, the research questions addressed concern how risk is conceived in a theoretical global context and how this would assist in developing a methodology for risk management in an international project organization. They also involve how risk management within a project portfolio could be conducted and its effectiveness measured. Finally, the research questions also address how the management of opportunities could be improved. This research includes the development of four methodologies, based on industrial need. A holistic approach with a systems perspective has been used in order to handle the complexity of the research task. Both empirical and theoretical material has been used for developing the proposed methodologies. The developed methodologies for project risk management and the measures of its effectiveness have been tested and improved over a five-year period within the complete case company. Subsequently, two of them were implemented. The developed methodologies show that the risk management process in a single project does not foster learning and is not directly applicable within a portfolio of projects. Furthermore, the risk management process is not able to address all types of uncertainty. The project manager is a major factor in an effective management of uncertainty. When identifying and managing opportunity, having the ability to create a holistic view, to oversee both customer expectations, and to communicate project related information are important factors. Furthermore, the implementation also showed that it is actually possible, through the consistent use of a risk management process, to develop a cultural behavior within an organization that is much more preventive and proactive than before.