Micro IT Projects Success Criteria


A Small Scale Scientific Research

Valentina Ivanova, PhD, PMP

New Bulgarian University

Sofia, Bulgaria


A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result (PMBOK, 2013). The unique nature of projects and the fact that they are usually undertaken in a business environment makes the scientific approach to studying project success factors almost impossible.

In this paper a small scale scientific research on micro IT projects success factors is presented. Six teams of students who specialize in Game Development in B.Sc. “Information Technologies” programme, led by six students from M.Sc. “Information Technologies Project Management” programme at New Bulgarian University are assigned to work on comparable project in terms of both: organizational environment, stakeholders expectations, available information and existing communicational channels, and also in terms of project parameters as project scope, time and resources. The paper presents the research set-up and the monitoring processes. The projects’ plans, progress, recovery activities, milestones and final outcomes are described in details. The project management challenges, risks and issues, the decision making process, and the success rate in decision implementation are analysed. Key factors for project success are identified.

The proposed method for scientific research of project success factors is critically examined and compared to alternative approaches. Scaling up of the research is discussed.

Key words: project management, education in IT PM, project success factors.

JEL code: M15, I21, I23


Teamwork is an essential requirement to complement theoretical knowledge and practical engineering skills in computer science and informatics. In their article about teaching teamwork to software engineers, presented to IEEE’s Frontiers in Education Conference – 2011, Lingard and Barkitaki quote Ben Amaba (Worldwide Executive of IBM since 2005): “Software engineers need good communication skills, both spoken and written. They need an analytical capability, and they need to be able to manage a project from end to end while working well with their colleagues.” (Lingard and Barkataki, 2011).

Informatics department at New Bulgarian University undertook a large-scale research project “Preparation of IT specialists for the Knowledge Economy” (scheme: BG051PO001-3.1.07, contract: BG051PO001-3.1.07-0072) on the most recent world-class practices on ensuring synergy of academic knowledge and yet building professional skills demanded by the IT industry in a higher educational setting. As a result of the project, the individual assignments in the third year of the undergraduate programmes were redesigned into larger scale multidisciplinary students’ group projects (micro IT projects). Using group projects as pedagogical tools raises some concerns, mainly based on scarcity of scientific evidence for or against the effectiveness of the method (Ashraf, 2004). Nevertheless, group projects are becoming an essential part of software engineering curricula (Mead, 2009, Sancho-Thomas et al., 2009, and van Vliet, 2006).

Recently the Bulgarian Industrial Association – Union of the Bulgarian Business (BIA) introduced a sector oriented competence framework. Each competence description includes both sector specific requirements and behavioural indicators. All competences in the ICT sector require strong teamwork skills (Competence Assessment Information System, 2015). Based on these structured industry requirements, on the recent good practices in software engineering curricula development (Mead, 2009), and considering the known drawbacks (Ashraf, 2004), Informatics department had selected micro IT group projects as the pedagogical tool for teaching teamwork in their academic setting.

Micro IT projects are considered an educational innovation in the context of undergraduate education at Informatics department. This paper presents a small scale research on the success factors of the micro IT projects implemented at Informatics department at NBU.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 5th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2016. It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.


About the author

Valentina Ivanova, PhD, PMP 

New Bulgarian University
Sofia, Bulgaria


Dipl. Eng. Valentina Ivanova
is assistant professor at Informatics Department at NBU, the largest private university in Bulgaria. Her main courses include programming languages, software engineering and IT project management at Bachelor and Master Degree Levels. She holds a PhD in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence), a PMP certificate, and since 2012 is a SEI Certified PSP Instructor.

Valentina Ivanova is in charge of the M.Sc. degree programmes at Informatics Department at NBU. Her main focus is the process of continuous improvement of the educational offer of the department at Master degree level, in order to meet the challenges of the dynamic technological and economical development in the globalized world. Her recent work is in the area of e-Leadership and e-Leadership curricula development.

Valentina Ivanova believes that agility in higher educational institutions’ programmes empowers students and businesses to pursue maximum business value as owners of their educational needs and goals.

Prof Ivanova can be contacted at [email protected]