Managing Complexity in IT development

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Lennart Sebastian Bech Leuchtmann
  • Bo Kofoed Jensen
4. semester, Information Technology, Master (Master Programme)
This paper begins with a brief review of Denmark’s efforts to digitize public organizations, positioning the country as a world leader in this field. Subsequentially it argues that to live up to Denmark’s strategic goals in this area, Denmark should consider the increase in complexity that characterizes IT development, and should study public IT development units to address this issue. Noting an almost complete lack of public IT development in the academic literature, the paper aims to contribute to the base of knowledge by examining the viability of the Project Management 2 nd Order (PM-2) model (Saynisch, 2010) as a tool to manage complexity in public IT development. The research collaborates with the Danish Parliament [JS1] to create a case study of its agile IT Development Department (ITU) to answer the following research question: • How can the PM-2 model be used to aid management of agile IT development in the public sector? The case study follows the guidance on case study as a research method as described by Robert Yin (2014). His work was used as a guide in both designing and executing the case study. The case study sets out with the following three propositions: 1. The case study will find challenges at ITU that can be generalized to similar public departments, but not private IT development departments. 2. PM-2 can be used to handle challenges related to public IT development. 3. Silo mentality and consultancies’ seasonal product cycles will be identified as substantial challenges. To verify or disprove these propositions, criteria for the case study’s empirical foundation are carefully considered. Empirical data were collected through semi-structured interviews and a workshop. The data includes the perspectives of three organizational layers: developers; project managers; and the IT development manager. The analysis involves comparing the perspectives of the organizational layers: mapping their dynamics according to the PM-2 model and pattern-matching in the form of thematization. The analysis is structured according to the following areas of interest, each producing a list of themes: • Differences between public & private IT development (11 themes) • Challenges for public IT development (11 themes) • Managerial elements used to support IT development (12 themes) On that basis, 25 findings are identified. Subsequently, the paper discusses the verifiability of the propositions. Proposition 1 is partly verified, proposition 2 is verified, and proposition 3 is dismissed. We conclude by asserting the PM-2 model can be used to address complexity in public IT development. It can be used as a diagnostic tool, and to formulate a general strategy for balancing elements of management. Because its strengths lie in its versatility and simplicity, it has limitations when applied to more practical tasks. While it is a great help formulating the general principles for a well-balanced approach to managing complexity in a specific context, it falls short when translating these principles into concrete and actionable plans. Because PM-2 aims to encompass all management schools and approaches into one model, it is a largely abstract tool. The paper recommends the model be used in conjunction with the other management tools it encompasses to translate the complex management strategy into action
Publication date29 May 2019
Number of pages64
External collaboratorFolketingets IT-Udviklingsafdeling
IT-Udviklingschef Liselotte Astrup
Information group
ID: 304649326