Disposable System Development – A New Paradigm for Managing ICT Projects in the Innovation Age


Part 1: How Business Changed Project Management Practice 

By Professor Hubert Vaughan 

Beijing, China

Those who are engaged in the IT industry are certainly aware of the challenges we face nowadays. Project schedules continue to slip, budgets continue to overflow, and the solutions that we developed continue to fail to meet our customers’ expectation and satisfaction. Most project managers can think of in project engagement is to get it over with, and move on.

As a practitioner, we blamed our customers who can’t give us precise requirements, we blamed our team for not delivering modules based on our requirement specifications, and we blamed everyone around us but ourselves.

For researchers and users, they will say project failure because the project managers are incompetent. They lack the necessary business knowledge, poor leadership skills, lack of organization skills, communication skills, negotiation skills, problem solving skills, and poor enforcement of development disciplines, etc. While I do agree that acquiring these skills may improve project success rate, but these are more generic management competency than project management specific competency. While some Academics focused around these generic management “skills” for project management competency, I believed in exploring project managers’ ability to use the PM Body of Knowledge during project engagement. One good example is the bold attempt by some project managers who track project progresses by managing “Works to be done” instead of “Works Completed”.

Others will say project failure is because the project scope is not well defined, thus causing continuous change requests that blew the project timeline and project budget out of proportion. Or argued that project estimation (for timeline, budget, and resources) were not realistic. These may hold truth to certain extent, but was only part of the causes.

We can put forward thousands of reasons why most Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects failed. Many researchers and professionals continue to find new tools and techniques to improve the ultimate chances of delivering ICT projects successfully.

For many years, we all wondered why ICT project continues to fail while more certified Project Managers are available to manage business and engineering projects. For thirty years I worked on ICT related projects around the world ranging from application development to products development with project and program management responsibilities.

The last 10 years I taught Project Management and Software Engineering at Universities in China and lectured in many others countries across Europe, Middle-East, Asia and North America. I continued to practice and research on project management and software development related subjects while working in the academic environment. I delivered consultancy services and advise on project management issues to a number of government ministries and Stated-Owned enterprises in China. It gave me great opportunity to discover some of the reasons why projects continue to fail, even when managed by certified or competent project managers.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Professor Hubert Vaughan, recently retired from Tsinghua University in Beijing, and is based on his research over the last ten years during which he has developed some new approaches for managing major information and communication technology projects.

About the Author

pmwj16-Nov2013-vaughan-AUTHOR IMAGEflag-chinaProfessor Hubert Vaughan (Retired)

Beijing, China

Hubert Vaughan commenced his career in the field of computer technology in early 1972. For thirty years, Hubert practiced and served a number of International technology and financial Organizations including IBM, DEC, Unisys, Tandem, Bell Canada, Andersen Consulting, Lucent Technologies, National Mutual, ANZ Banking Group and Bank of Montreal; holding senior management positions in Technology related services. His career covered the five major continents around the world as Department Manager, Director, Assistant Vice President, and Vice President that spanned across software development, professional services, product development, technology consulting, project/program management, strategic planning as well as business development.

The last ten years, Hubert joined the Academic Institutions in China as Professor at the Institute of International Engineering Project Management (IIEPM) of Tsinghua University. Hubert also lectured at the Graduate School of China Academy of Science, the Beijing University of Aeronautic and Astronautic, teaching Innovation Management, Management of Technology, Program Management, Project management, and Software Engineering.

Apart from his teaching engagements, Hubert is a Research Fellow at the China Academy of Management Science, a member of the International Society of Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM), a former member of PMI’s Certification Governance Council (CGC); a co-founder of First International Innovation Management Alliance (FiiMA), and an Editorial Advisor of professional e-journal PM World Journal. Hubert is a Program Consultant to a number of multi-billion dollar projects run by State-Owned technology organizations and financial institutions in China.

Hubert is a regular presenter at international conferences and seminars in North America, Europe, Middle-East and Asia-Pacific. He had published more than fifty papers related to Software Engineering, Project Management, Program Management, and Innovation Management subjects both in China and in various international professional journals.  Retired from his academic engagement in July 2013, Hubert continues his research work in Innovation Engineering and presents at international events about his research findings throughout his career. He can be contacted at [email protected]