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Evaluation and selection of ideas and projects in product development
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Product development has become an important competitive factor for most companies. A central task is to select which projects, often from a large number of project proposals, are to be developed in order to achieve strategic objectives without exceeding available resources. Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is the research discipline which focuses on the decision-making processes used to evaluate, select and prioritise projects. Previous research has stated that companies must be able to select and commit resources to different types of ideas and projects. However, it is widely believed that PPM literature has not sufficiently investigated the challenges that companies might face when putting into practice different decision-making approaches to select different types of ideas and projects.

This thesis aims to explore how different types of ideas and projects are evaluated and selected in the context of the development of complex technological products. It is based on a qualitative research approach and interviews and observations have been carried out with the cooperation of six companies.

The findings of this thesis reveal that because different decision-making approaches encounter different levels of acceptance within an organisation, the dynamics by which an idea evolves are affected by the way in which decision makers deal with the legitimacy of the decision-making approaches that they put into practice. Decision makers use some mechanisms that allow them to avoid drawing exclusively on the highly accepted approaches when they are not considered to be suitable, and to give legitimacy to the decisions that have been made by the less accepted approaches. In addition, the way in which decision makers experience a decision situation influences how it is approached. If they experience ambiguity, they might display a decision-making logic in which actions are allowed to be taken within self-organised social interactions, in order to make sense of the idea, project or criteria. However, the occurrence of self-organised interactions is conditioned by how decision makers negotiate resources with stakeholders that display different interests and decision-making logics.

These findings question the objective view that assumes that ideas and projects are already defined at the moment the decision is made and are able to be classified in pre-defined categories. It also led to the question of whether problems in fulfilling resource allocation plans and the risk of biases in decision making are problems that arise due to poor decision-making practices, and whether they should, instead, be understood as probable consequences of a flexible process.

Finally, this thesis explores a way of enhancing decision makers’ abilities through scenarios in which decision makers experience decision situations and reflect on their own ways of making decisions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. , 85 p.
Series
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2012:15
Keyword [en]
decision making, product development, project evalaution, project portfolio management, project selection
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-102388ISBN: 978-91-7501-453-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-102388DiVA: diva2:552614
Public defence
2012-09-28, Sal Gladan, Brinellvägen 85, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20120918

Available from: 2012-09-18 Created: 2012-09-14 Last updated: 2012-09-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Innovation and decision making: understanding selection and prioritization of development projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Innovation and decision making: understanding selection and prioritization of development projects
2008 (English)In: 2008 IEEE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MANAGEMENT OF INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY, VOLS 1-3, IEEE , 2008, 333-338 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper examines the problems decision makers experience when selecting and prioritizing new ideas and development projects. It is based on an explorative study, with interviews carried out in three companies that have new product development as a core competitive factor.

The findings indicate that to deal with all the situations and problems that may arise in the innovation process, various approaches for making decisions and understanding innovation are needed. However, regardless of the appropriateness of these approaches for given circumstances, they receive different levels of acceptance at an organizational plane. This puts decision makers in the conflictive situation of sometimes having to use approaches to work that are appropriate but not accepted, and other times accepted but inappropriate. Furthermore, an organization's potential to create new products, and consequently its future competitiveness, depends on how its members deal with the organizational acceptance of the approaches used.

We discuss the implications of these findings for designing work procedures for selecting and prioritizing ideas and projects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE, 2008
Keyword
Decision making, innovation, organization, process design, project selection
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9852 (URN)10.1109/ICMIT.2008.4654386 (DOI)000262920500060 ()2-s2.0-56749105376 (Scopus ID)978-1-4244-2329-3 (ISBN)
Conference
IEEE International Conference on Management of Innovation and Technology, Bangkok, THAILAND, SEP 21-24, 2008
Note
© 2008 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works. QC 20101111Available from: 2012-02-09 Created: 2009-01-14 Last updated: 2012-09-18Bibliographically approved
2. Designing work procedures for project portfolio management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Designing work procedures for project portfolio management
2008 (English)In: PROCEEDINGS OF NORDDESIGN 2008 / [ed] Roosimolder, L., TALLINN UNIV TECH , 2008, 285-294 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is about how companies evaluate, select and prioritize ideas and projects for developing new products. This is aimed to align development investments with company's strategic goals and to reduce the risk caused by uncertainty. Research regarding the procedural aspects of PPM is still considered not enough developed. It is needed a better theoretical ground about which organizational processes should be included in PPM, how they influence each other, and how a work procedure should be designed for suiting a specific company. This paper focuses on understanding the characteristics of processes and activities within PPM. It is grounded on an empirical study in three companies based on qualitative research inter-views. It was found that that processes within PPM have five main characteristics: reciprocal influence, parallel running, network of actors, multiple decision levels and decision-realization gap. It is also discussed the implications of these findings for the design of work procedures for PPM.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
TALLINN UNIV TECH, 2008
Keyword
Project portfolio management, process design, project selection, resource allocation, product development
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9853 (URN)000260990100028 ()2-s2.0-84859922962 (Scopus ID)978-9985-59-840-5 (ISBN)
Conference
7th NordDesign Conference 2007, Tallinn Univ Technol, Dept Mach, Tallinn, ESTONIA, AUG 21-23, 2008
Note
QC 20101111Available from: 2012-02-09 Created: 2009-01-14 Last updated: 2012-09-18Bibliographically approved
3. What's a good idea?: understanding evalaution and selection of new product ideas
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What's a good idea?: understanding evalaution and selection of new product ideas
2009 (English)In: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED'09), Vol. 3, 2009, 121-132 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates how ideas for new products are evaluated and selected in industrial companies. It is based on an empirical and explorative study in three companies, using qualitative interviews. The findings indicate that a good idea is the result of a process in which at the same time the idea is generated, evaluated and selected. This process determines which ideas are further developed, which of them reach a formal decision-making forum and, to some extent, the decisions made in these official forums. This process is characterized by a social and a cognitive aspect, overlooked in normative literature. The social aspect is about interaction between people that makes possible to combine formal and informal processes, and rational and non-rational approaches for developing and evaluating ideas with different grades of ambiguity and uncertainty. The cognitive aspect refers to how ideas and company's context are interpreted, in individual and collective levels, for making evaluations on ideas. Implications of these findings for designing supporting methods for evaluation and selection of ideas are discussed; and general descriptions of a practical method suggested.

Keyword
Product development, project selection, idea evalaution, decision making, cognition, innovation, project portfolio management
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-77939 (URN)000302734700011 ()2-s2.0-84859261667 (Scopus ID)978-1-904670-07-0 (ISBN)
Conference
17th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 09; Palo Alto, CA; United States; 24 August 2009 through 27 August 2009
Note

QC 20120214

Available from: 2012-02-14 Created: 2012-02-07 Last updated: 2014-09-23Bibliographically approved
4. A method for designing processes for Project Portfolio Management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A method for designing processes for Project Portfolio Management
2010 (English)In: Proceedings of the 8th International NordDesign Conference 2010 / [ed] Andreas Dagman, Rikard Söderberg, 2010, 55-64 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is the process that aims to the evaluation, selection and prioritization of ideas and projects for developing new products. PPM is considered a key managerial task and a core competence influencing companies.

Keyword
Project portfolio management, process desing, product development.
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-77820 (URN)2-s2.0-84859884299 (Scopus ID)
Conference
International Conference on Methods and Tools for Product and Production Development, August 25 – 27, 2010, Göteborg, Sweden
Note
QC 20120213Available from: 2012-02-13 Created: 2012-02-07 Last updated: 2012-09-18Bibliographically approved
5. When sensemaking meets resource allocation: an exploratory study of ambiguous ideas in Project Portfolio Management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>When sensemaking meets resource allocation: an exploratory study of ambiguous ideas in Project Portfolio Management
2011 (English)In: 18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 2011), 2011, 373-382 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research in Project Portfolio Management (PPM) has proposed tools and models for evaluating, selecting and prioritizing ideas and projects in product development. However, empirical evidence indicates that most companies still experience problems when managing their portfolios. PPM literature has mainly focused on evaluation models in which clearly defined ideas are evaluated against predetermined decision criteria. It is considered that this approach is not suitable for ambiguous ideas, where people face difficulties in understanding or classifying an idea. In this article we explore the evaluation of ambiguous ideas in PPM. We found that when people experience ambiguity they take small steps in the further development of an idea for giving to it the clarity that it was lacking before. This process for making sense of the ambiguous situation is conditioned by the resource allocation process which has its own logic and dynamic. We discuss these findings for explaining why some ideas are not evaluated according to the evaluation models proposed in PPM literature; and why the resource allocation process within PPM does not work as management planned it to.

Keyword
Project portfolio management, idea evaluation, ambiguity, product development.
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-77889 (URN)2-s2.0-84858822887 (Scopus ID)
Conference
18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 2011), 15 - 18 AUGUST 2011, TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF DENMARK
Note
QC 20120214Available from: 2012-02-14 Created: 2012-02-07 Last updated: 2012-09-18Bibliographically approved
6. Dealing with legitimacy: A key challenge for Project Portfolio Management decision makers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dealing with legitimacy: A key challenge for Project Portfolio Management decision makers
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Project Management, ISSN 0263-7863, E-ISSN 1873-4634, Vol. 32, no 1, 30-39 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous research has considered combining different decision-making approaches to be critical to achieve flexibility in Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Lacking flexibility, i.e., making decisions only by rational and formal approaches, might lead to a deficient balance between different types of ideas and projects, and this may lead to innovation opportunities being missed. However, the challenges that decision makers might face in achieving that flexibility have not been investigated thoroughly. In an interview study of three industrial companies, we explored how different decision-making approaches are combined in PPM. We found that rational and formal decision-making processes are experienced as more legitimate than informal and non-rational ones. Decision makers deal with legitimacy by certain mechanisms that allow them to bypass high accepted approaches and legitimizing decisions made by low accepted ones. We discuss how these mechanisms, while contributing to achieving flexibility, might also cause a bias in decisions and destabilization in resource allocation.

Keyword
Project portfolio management, legitimacy, flexibility, decision making
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-102491 (URN)10.1016/j.ijproman.2013.01.002 (DOI)000328712100004 ()2-s2.0-84887249245 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20140122. Updated from accepted to published.

Available from: 2012-09-18 Created: 2012-09-18 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
7. Managing ambiguity when evaluating and selecting new ideas in Project Portfolio Management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing ambiguity when evaluating and selecting new ideas in Project Portfolio Management
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), ISSN 0219-8770, Vol. 11, no 5, 1450030Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Evaluating and selecting new ideas are central activities in Project Portfolio Management (PPM). PPM dominant approach assumes that both ideas and decision criteria are clearly defined at their evaluation. It does not take into consideration ambiguous situations in which ideas are not fully understood, or there are opposing opinions about their classification. We explore evaluation of ideas when PPM decision makers experience ambiguity. We found that they allow ideas to be developed further, which helps them to understand purposes, reveal benefits and construct judgments. However, it also affects resource allocation because it requires resources that had already been assigned.

Keyword
Project portfolio management, idea evaluation, ambiguity, product development, decision making
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-102494 (URN)10.1142/S0219877014500308 (DOI)2-s2.0-84929580426 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20151016. Updated from accepted to published.

Available from: 2012-09-18 Created: 2012-09-18 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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