As organizations strive to ensure results and system solutions that meet the desires and preferences of consumers, there is a dramatic shift of organization towards project management. Organizations have indicated both success and failures in the implementation of project management. The main reason for such occurrence is that organizations engage in numerous projects occasioned with view project team members, and at the same time projects are unlinked to organizational goals.
This research, therefore, seeks to identify the importance for employees to understand how their projects work towards achieving the organizational strategy. This will be achieved by collecting and analyzing data from employees of the Dubai e-Government, which is a government entity that provides IT services to all government departments in Dubai. The findings of the study indicate that there is a direct and positive relationship between understanding organizational strategy and success in executing a project.
Background of the Study
When the world was hit by the financial crisis in 2008, many organizations went straight back into their boardrooms to have a proper look at their strategies and eliminate all the unnecessary projects that were not adding any value to their organizations. They also had a look at the projects that were meant to serve the strategic objectives of the organization but failed to do so. One of the important reasons why these objectives were not achieved was that the project team did not clearly understand how their project was related to the strategy of the organization, which caused their projects to go widely out of scope.
The current business environment is open to a lot of technological innovation and stiff competition. For a business to stay competitive, they engage in numerous projects that result in a number of products and services which will play a vital role in customer attraction and patronage. In addition, there is growing concern from managers to ensure cross-organizational cooperation, as well as a better outcome from the running projects in the organization.
The limitation common in all projects conducted in an organization is that project managers initiate projects without aligning them with the organizational strategy. As such, projects appear randomly; thus project teams do not understand the aims and scope of the project. This affects success in the execution of the projects. Linking projects with organizational strategy will boost the outcome through a properly cultivated environment that ensures project success since projects that lack strategic prominence often fail.
In order for an employee to execute a task properly, he must first understand the objectives and goals behind it. Many organizations fail to properly lay out their strategies to their employees. This causes the employees to work on projects that may not produce the correct outcomes that the management expects of them.
What is the importance of understanding how projects work towards achieving the organizational strategy?
Research aim & objectives
The aim of conducting this research is to determine the importance of understanding the relationship between projects and how they work towards achieving the overall strategy of their organization. The aim will be fulfilled by the following objectives:
- To examine the level at which employees understand the strategy of their organization.
- To explore the need for linking projects with the organizational strategy
- To investigate the importance of working towards the goals of the organizational strategy.
- To provide useful recommendations based on the findings of my research.
The full literature review of the research will be exploring the relationship between projects and the overall strategy of an organization, as well as why it is important for the employees to understand the strategy of their organization.
Aligning projects to organizational strategy
In order for a project to be considered “strategically fit”, it has to be strategically aligned with the organization in order to properly reflect on the business strategy (Meskendahl, 2010, p. 70). The degree to which the project reflects the strategy is a major part of measures a project’s success. Dietrich and Lehtonen (2005) claim that a project can achieve strategic objectives by aligning the objectives of the project with the organizational strategy, as well as allocating the correct resources which properly understand the strategic intentions of the organizations to the projects. Furthermore, management must follow-up with their project teams to ensure that the projects are still within the scope that the organization has set.
England and Graham (1999) state that many successful organizations tend to select their projects based on strategic goals rather than financial goals. In such organizations, strategic goals are clearly defined and all people involved in the organization are familiar and comfortable with what the organization is aiming to achieve. The more the project contributes to the strategy, the higher its priority.
According to Brenes (2008), the organizational strategy can be characterized as looking in, looking out, and looking ahead. “Looking in” means critically reviewing and intensifying organizations, systems, and structures for managing finances, personnel, and other resources. “Looking out” implies discovering away from the boundaries of your organization to set viable objectives, recognize key stakeholders, and put together constituencies for change. Lastly, “Looking ahead” involves bonding the organization’s policy with structures and resources to arrive at the policy goals, at the same time as monitoring organizations’ progress and adjusting your approach as needed (Chua& Lam, 2005, p. 12).
Firms practicing strategic project practices tend to do better than their counterparts who lack strategic approaches. In fact, top management has reported superior levels of satisfaction in relation to strategic project ideas and tools as compared to other management tools. In addition, Englund and Graham (2006) assert that 81 percent of organizations across the world are doing strategic planning. In North America, the figure is even higher (89 percent). Hospitality firms also benefit from strategic approaches as pointed out by a current study of hotels situated in the United Kingdom. It found out that performance has a positive association with the sophistication, thoroughness, formality, and participation of strategic arrangement processes.
In the last decades, the strategy has been acknowledged widely in management literature. There has been a series of publications that deal with product line strategy, diversification strategy, and marketing strategy, and organizational strategy. A suggestion has been made concerning product or service strategy due to changes in the business cycle and economic climate. This interest developed out of an insight that business needs a well-defined growth and scope direction, that business goals cannot meet this target alone but needs additional decision rules to make it possible for a business to have profitable and orderly growth.
Customers’ trust and confidence and trust in organizations have assumed a declining trend given the distress that is taking root in the market. Stiff competition has a jet in the market calling for the change in approach and strategy that is used in project management in order to attract potential and new customers as well as retain the existing customers. The strategic emphasis in organizations is indispensable to the normal working days of the business as well as to economic stability. Therefore a strategic approach in project management is seen as an avenue and essential ingredient for the growth and survival of any projects in an organization.
Michael Potter explained strategies as being different, deliberately choosing a set of actions to deliver only one of its kind mix of value. It is about the competitive position, differentiating oneself in the customer’s eyes, and at the same time adding value in the course of a mix of activities different from the competition. The plan is a connection between guiding principle and priority objectives couple with the strictness in operations and attainments of the set objectives.
It bridges the gap between actual and desired outcomes. Michael Potter also explained three generic strategies that an organization can adopt which includes cost leadership. The others are differentiation and focus. He also advised that businesses should remain vigilant in order to maintain their generic orientation; it has also been advised that businesses should not try to be good at any two or three of the generic strategies; they should always-built competencies in one and try to build strength on the others when opportunities allow (Miles & Snow, 2003, p. 67).
A strategy is a comprehensive, integral, and unified plan that speaks about the relationship between organizations’ strategic advantages and challenges in the business environment. It is premeditated to ensure the essential objectives of a business are attained in the course of an organizations’ proper execution. Gattiker and Carter (2010) argued that a strategy is a pattern of actions and decisions that top executives of an organization pursue in order to realize organizational goals.
Therefore, the majority of businesses have put down well-defined targets in order to attain superior project performance. This indicates a link between strategic project management and superior performance of an organization. Further, the strategy is a proposed sequence of actions or actions with far-reaching effects on the ability of the organization to realize its goals. It is a blueprint containing all the essential competitive, functional, and entrepreneurial area actions pursued by an organization in realizing its objectives and striving for sustained success. Strategy illustrates the decision-making principles overriding the profits and direction of growth of an entity’s business.
The absence of strategy will mean that the business will lack the search for new opportunities, soaring the risk of making the worst decisions and a lack of control in terms of resource allocation pattern. In addition, a business strategy affects stakeholders, that is, groups or individuals who can significantly affect or are significantly affected by the organization’s activities. They include customers, owners, and employees, among others (Hossenlopp, 2010, p. 56).
In all business, strategic emphasis are developed specifically with corporate strategy dealing with the general development of an entity’s business activities. Engwall (2002) posit that strategies are of two forms: deliberate and emergent strategy. Deliberate strategy arises from the conception that strategy is a process, thus it is implicit that strategy occurs because of activities that are consciously planned.
On the other hand, emergent strategy rely on the conception that strategy is a pattern, that is, it is the behaviours and activities which build up informally but establishes a consistent pattern. Additionally, organizations may undertake outsourcing; that is, the ability of an organization of getting or obtaining expertise services outside since the organization do not have the capacity to establish them on permanent basis due to cost implications.
Organizational strategy as a tool that aid managers plays a lot of role towards the success of projects in an organization. With its immense ability to respond to both internal and external conditions in the organizations puts it in the league of those approaches that every able organization looks into. The approach is presumed to have a lot of benefits other than costs. Technology has greatly developed in the recent past compelling businesses to review their organizational strategy to accommodate the changes.
Developing organizational strategy entails a rational assessment of the weight of a business’s strengths and weakness along side the opportunities and threats at hand in the market. For an organization to develop a strategic management certain activities need to be completed; determine the preferred management position, decide on a growth strategy, and select undifferentiated, differentiated, or concentrated marketing (Lakemond & Berggren, 2005, p. 807).
Organizations in the service sector have acted slowly in the adoption of a strategic approach in relation to their project orientations. Engwall, (2002, p. 74) points out the evidence that service sector has prominently adopted strategic approaches in there project orientations. According to Engwall, (2002) a competitive strategy sets out for the achievement of competitive advantage that is sustainable, hence strengthening project performance.
The main purpose of a strategy is to strengthen the long-term pecuniary performance of the organization through sustainable competitive advantage, and well executed projects. According to Soderlund (2004, p. 71), an organization realization of competitive advantage depends on three factors, namely; an organization strategy, strategy implementation as well as the business context. A relationship is the main component of an organization’s strategy that is relationships with competitors, channel members and with customers.
New technology has lead to a reduction in physical touch and personal conduct between clients and customers through electronic banking. However, Engwall, (2002) argued that over capitalization on development activities concerning relationship with certain customers is often inefficient and costly.
The conceptual framework would be developed based on the analysis of the collected data regarding this subject as well as the full literature review that would be conducted for the full assignment. The literature review above suggests that there is a direct relationship between the employee’s proper understanding of the organizational strategy and the success of a project, which made me produce the following hypothesis that this research would be testing (Cattani, 2011, p. 92).
Research hypothesis: Proper understanding of the organizational strategy allows employees to successfully execute a project.
The purpose of this methodology chapter is to describe the salient qualitative processes involved in the study. These salient processes include identification of the study sample, sampling, data collection and data analysis. To achieve this noble goal, the chapter is broken down into subsections, each addressing a particular salient process. This chapter outlines the research design and methodology that were adopted for the purpose of this study. The chapter is divided into sections as follows: research design, sampling size and design, data collection and data analysis and interpretation.
The study employed a case study research design. This approach sought to collect data without manipulating the research variables or the respondents in an attempt to determine the relationship between understanding the organizational strategy and properly executing a project. The researcher chose this research design since inferences about relations among variables are made, without direct intervention from connected variation of independent and dependent variables (Patton, 2002). In this study, variables were investigated without any manipulation or alteration and descriptive methodologies were used.
Sampling Population and sampling Procedure
Kothari (2004) defines a sample design as a definite plan for obtaining a sample from the sampling frame. It refers to the technique or the procedure the researcher would adopt in selecting some sampling unit from which inferences about the population is drawn. Sampling design is determined before data is collected. Simple random sampling method was used in selecting forty two respondents. Questionnaires were distributed randomly amongst the sampled population of one hundred respondents.
The sampling procedure involved the use of purposive sampling technique in which the researcher chose multiple project teams in different departments and its environments purposively. The study targeted population that was selected through simple random sampling technique where 30% of members of staff were selected. Stratified sampling was used to put the population into different categories or groups. The population was based on Patson (2002) argument that 30% is a substantial population for a survey study.
This section presents the data collection instruments, development of the research instruments, validity and reliability of research instruments and finally administration of research instruments.
Data Collection Instruments
The main research instruments used is the questionnaires. Data will be collected by use of open and closed ended questionnaires. The questionnaires will consist of items to answer the research questions, which will have both multiple choice and structured questions. As such, the data collection instruments for this study were questionnaires.
Development of Research Instruments
In developing the questionnaire items, the closed and open-ended formats of the item were used. The format used in all categories of the questionnaires. However, in the fixed choice item, it involved “putting words” in the respondents’ mouth, especially when providing acceptable answers, there was temptation to avoid serious thinking on the part of the respondent. The respondent ended up choosing the easiest alternative and provides fewer opportunities for self-expression. It is because of these reasons that it was deemed necessary to combine this format of items with the open – ended response items. The open – ended format allows more spontaneity of response and provides opportunities for self-expression argues Patton (2002).
Validity of the Research Instruments
The instrument was rated in terms of how effectively it samples significant aspects of the purpose of the study. The content validity of the instrument was determined in two ways. First, the researcher discussed the items in the instrument with the supervisors, colleagues and other lecturers in the department. The advice given helped the researcher to determine the validity of the research instruments. The advice included suggestions, clarifications, and other inputs. These suggestions were used in making necessary changes.
Secondly, content validity of the instrument was determined through piloting, where the responses of the subjects were checked against the research objectives. The questionnaires were administered to respondents in the government department twice within an interval of two weeks. The reliability coefficient was calculated and a score of 0.5 was considered high enough for the instrument to be used in the study, (Patton, 2002). This also gave a reason as to why content was used. For a research instrument to be considered valid, the content selected and included in the questionnaire must be relevant to the variable being investigated argues.
Reliability of Research Instrument
This is a measure of the degree that a research instrument gives similar results over a number of times. Reliability is a quality attributed to proposition or measures to the degree to which they produce consistent results. An attitude scale is considered reliable, for example, to the degree to which the same respondents, or very similar respondents, receive the same or very similar score upon repeated testing. In order to test the reliability of the instrument to be used in the study, the test- retest method was used. The questionnaire was administered twice within an interval of two weeks. This established the extent to which the questionnaire elicits the same responses every time it is administered.
The results were calculated for its consistency. Pearson’s product moment’s correlation (r) was also used to determine the coefficient stability of the data collection instrument. Fraenkel and Warren (2000) say that Pearson’s Product moment coefficient of correlation is one of the best-known measures of association. The following formula was used.
rxy = NΣXY – (Σ X ) (Σy )
√ [ N X2 – (Σ X )2 ] [ NY2- (Σ Y)2]
- Where r = Pearson r
- Σx = The sum of raw X scores
- Σy = The sum of raw Y scores
- Σxy = The sum of the product of each X times each Y0
- ΣX2 = The sum of the square of each X- score
- ΣY2 = The sum of the squares of each Y – score.
- N = The number of paired x & y scores
Pearson’s product moment’s correlation (r) was also used to determine the coefficient stability of the data collection instrument. Fraenkel and Warren (2000) say that Pearson’s Product moment coefficient of correlation is one of the best-known measures of association. The reliability coefficient was calculated and a score of 0.5 was considered high enough for the instrument used in the study (Patton, 2002). For all likert type questions, Cronbach’s Coefficient Alpha was computed for each item.
A reliability coefficient of 0.7 or over was assumed to reflect the internal reliability of the instruments (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2000). This is because likert type questions are best tested for reliability using Cronbach’s Coefficient Alpha that combines all the items and advises on which item to discard if it does not capture what it is intended to capture.
Administration of Research Instruments
A comprehensive questionnaire with well-structured questions was administered to respondents who were sampled, and were able to answer the questions at their own free time most of them were casual workers since they are always busy during the day.
The data was collected through questionnaires that included a mixture of five point likert scales, multiple choices, ranked order items open and closed ended questions designed to analyze the relationship between understanding the organizational strategy and properly executing a project. The researcher and research assistants giving respondents sufficient time to answer questions distributed this to respondents. More emphasis was placed on the closed ended questions because it facilitated the data analysis, classification, and tabulation of the response, codes which have been indicated by the respondents as their answers.
Data Analysis and Presentation
Data was analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Descriptive methods were employed and data presented in the form of frequency distribution tables that will facilitate description and explanation of the study findings. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) helped in data analysis.
The tests like regression and Chi-square helped in identifying the significance of data and relationship between the variable. Quantitative techniques (frequency tables and charts) were used for the presentation of quantifiable data that was presented textually using descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. This was used to confirm and support the qualitative data that is most useful for understanding the rationale or theory underlying relationships.
Pattern matching was also used as a strategy for analysis between study variables. Mean scores, standard deviations was used in analyzing items that adopt a likert format. Where necessary, t-tests were also conducted to establish whether the means are statistically significant between other variables.
Study Findings and Analysis
This section will merely present the results and findings of the study. Based on Creswell (2009, p. 62) opinions on the structure of social studies, it was reasoned that a good results and findings chapter should not offer any discussions and/or interpretations of the study findings. Moreover and to avoid confusion between the study findings and the existing relevant literature, the findings and discussion be incorporated.
In addition, Babbie (2004, p. 72) asserts that the study findings should be placed in a conspicuous point of the study, they should be structured to suit the aims of the study and most importantly, they should be presented in a way that is in tandem with the set objectives. However, it is important to note that the chapter is not structured into the four study objectives. As Creswell (2003) posits, so as to enrich a study results, the analysis of raw data from questionnaires should not based upon the research objectives solely. Rather, analysis should as well be based on deductive reasoning. As the Creswell clarifies, this is only possible following a successful review of the existing literature review.
Personal Data of Respondents
The research wanted to know the demographics of the respondents from the surveys. A question on gender was placed in each of the survey that was issued to the selected sample of the population. There were two options the male and female. This information was then quantified, where the answer of being male was given the number one, while that answer of being female was given the number two.
The results as shown in Table 4.1.1and Figure 4.1.2 indicates that a larger number of people who are involved in project execution programs were male and there were lesser female. In addition, those that were not involved were also mainly male respondents as compared to the female ones. It is evident that most men are involved in project execution. We would therefore conclude that men are the ones who are mostly interested in projects than women. In addition, race, marital status and level of education, as well are among those factors that determine project execution. This is evident by considerable variation from their mean.
Table 4.1.1 Gender, Nationality, Marital Status and Education Levels of Respondents.
|Valid N (list wise)||95|
The mean number of the data analysis from the two surveys was at 1.18, which means that most respondents from the study were male and it is most of them who are involved in project execution or not. The women must have stayed away from the survey or are not many in the project programs. The standard deviation which is at 0.46, emphasizes on the results that it is most male who are involved in project execution programs, and also who have not yet involved in this programs. This shows that women tend to be less interested in projects and in such programs.
The above histogram has a neutral skewness. This means that the data is normally distributed as shown by the normal curve. This is evident from the mean of 1.18 and a standard deviation as small as 0.46. This means that most men are usually enrolled in these project programs than women. Mean and standard deviation are common types of data analysis especially in social sciences. The population is concentrated at the 1.18, where 1 was representing male in the gender question. Although, there are the extremes, that is female and less male, represented at the extreme ends of the normal curve.
Relationship between Understanding Organizational Strategy and Project Execution
Second, as indicated in Table 4.2.1 a chi-square test was conducted to determine if there is a relationship present between organizational strategy and success in project execution. The results from the test were that the Pearson’s chi square was 0.066, which means that there is a 6.6 percentage relationship between the understanding of an organizational strategy and success in project execution. The likely hood ratio is at 18.4%, while the linear-by-linear association is at 30.5%, this shows that there is indeed a relationship.
Table 4.2.1 Relationship between Understanding Organizational Strategy and Project Execution
|Value||df||Asymp. Sig. (2-sided)|
|No of Valid Cases||95|
|Table 4.2.2 Importance of linking Organizational Strategy with Project Execution|
|Not_Q6_Q15_Are_there_any_importance_of_linking projects_ with organizational strategy||99||0||13456||1566.43||3686.097|
|Not_Q7_Q8_What_are _aspects of_ organizational strategy||99||0||45||4.20||6.959|
|Not_Q12_need_to link _projects with _strategy||98||1||4||1.32||.575|
|Valid N (list wise)||95|
It is evident in table 4.2.2 above, that respondents believe that it is important to link projects with strategy. This is shown by the high number of responses received from respondents.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Briefly, for any employee to be successful at his job in any organization, he must fully understand its goals and objectives. Management must be responsible in transmitting their organization strategy to all their employees, as well as stressing on the importance of meeting the goals of the strategy. The e-government department should understand the immense role that organizational strategy play in their day-to -day projects execution.
This will enable them build up organizational strategies that are effective for their project products and services. There is a call for government department that is integrated. This strategy will have immense contribution to efforts done by department in relation to their project orientations. It will also facilitate an easier and quick project implementation and execution (Cozby, 2001, p. 85).
Organizations can only recognize effective organizational strategy if they regularly conduct an on-the-job training for their employees. The e-government staff should be encouraged to attend training and retraining on regular and continuous basis. This will ensure that they acquire up to date knowledge and skills hence guaranteeing successful implementation of projects. The staff will gain skills and knowledge on project environment analysis as well as organizational strategy. In addition, organizational strategy in relation to project activities and products entails the process of looking into the current and future project environment, originating organizational goals and objectives, creating, implementing as well as controlling decisions geared at accomplishment of objectives.
The research leads to the conclusion that project implementation has a direct and positive relationship with the organizational strategy, hence guaranteeing their survival. Therefore, e-government department is encouraged to practice the use of organizational strategies in their project orientations with rigor. This will facilitate the achievement of sustainable competitive advantage to ensure that their desired projects are executed properly.
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