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Although organizational politics has negative impact on the implementation of information systems projects, sensible participation of project managers in organizational politics will make them have leverage in influencing such decisions as budget, functionality and the period for the implementation. Since death march projects are brought about by reduction of several aspects by about half, a firm that hopes to stop such projects must be willing to understand what causes them. Factors such as scheduled time for developing and implementing, financial cost, parties involved expectation of the managers and the expertise may lead to death march if political balance is not checked within the organization. It is important to avoid death march projects, since such projects are likely to end up either in failure or in high staff turnover due to overwork and underappreciation.
Studies have shown organizational politics is an epidemic phenomenon in an organization, and, therefore, it deserves more attention and critical empirical examination. Theoretical examination has shown that politics influences major aspects, such as decision-making, promotion, rewards and hence affecting productivity and performance in an organization (Krigsman, 2008). Organizational politics has been termed to refer to individual or group behavior purposefully designed to utilize individual interest and, therefore, influencing organizational goals and objectives or the objectives of other individuals.
There are many ways through which death march projects occur, and most of them have to do with organizational politics winning over logical leadership. It is also necessary to explain how such aspects of death march projects can be avoided to ensure harmony and sustainable profitability during project implementation. Reducing the time set for developing a project will interfere with the speed and effectiveness of the project (Yourdon, 1997). The developers will try to work as fast as possible while compromising the quality of the project. This can be caused by superiors who are in a hurry to implement new projects so as to maintain market share. Managers need to be advised that speed is not always an asset within an organization as hurried process is likely to fail or be defective.
Reducing employees involved in the development of projects jeopardizes time and the level of expertise involved. The organization may prefer to use junior employees to participate in project development rather than experts who ere experienced in an effort to cut costs. In the process, the developers will be overworked leading to inefficiency which is characteristic of most death march projects (Yourdon, 2004). A firm needs to find the right mixture between experienced personnel and new recruits to ensure that the outcome is of the right quality. In addition, projects can only be successful if the right number of employees is assigned to any given project. Firms that fail to recognize the danger of overwork are not likely to thrive, since treatment of employees is key to long-term success.
Death march was a term coined by System developers and project managers to refer to systems or projects which are doomed to failure or the risk of them failing is very high. But because of the influence exerted by their superiors they are forced to continue to work on them in spite of their unsuccessful nature. Such work will lead to overworking of employees and wastage of resources that could have been otherwise redirected to doing something productive. Firms that implement such projects usually end up dropping them in the future, and this reckless wastage of resources has been known to make companies go bankrupt.
Most of the organizational politics behavior mainly aims at serving self-interest, which involves propaganda, manipulation and illegal ways of attaining self-objectives. However, organizational politics should be viewed from the perspective of how people think about it rather than what it represents in reality. Politics represents an intricate concept when intertwined in an organizational setting. Discussing organizational politics without integrating power is very difficult because power is very influential. Power is potential capability or one social act used to avoid resistance in achieving a specific activity (Coopey & Burgoyne, 2000). Therefore, it can be used by managers or senior authority as one of the tools of forcing their will upon the affairs of the firm. This leads to death march projects in which assignment is usually dependent on one’s affiliation with power brokers. It is important that managers be shown that the firm’s needs must be placed ahead of individual concern and that the success or failure of the firm will affect all people including themselves.
When managers and superiors are faced with drastic changes and unpredictable circumstances, they will attempt to change market or products, influence competitors and customer behavior in order to reduce uncertainty and chances of being predictable. Universally, politics and power has been viewed as having negative connotation in an organization or any work environment setting. This is because power alignments within the workplace determines to a large extent the kind of projects a firm undertakes and how such projects are undertaken (Coopey & Burgoyne, 2000). While hierarchy is of some importance to a firm, management must review existing structures, if they encourage negative hierarchies which are fertile grounds for bad decisions. The kind of structures that encourage facilitative and consultative leadership are the ones more likely to enable better projects which will be translated to better returns for the entire firm.
Budgeting or funding of the project requires several political maneuvers to ensure enough financial support towards the development of selected projects. This shows how organizational politics plays a direct role in influencing projects. If the project manager has a close relationship with the senior managers, then he/she will have to use little effort to convince the senior managers. This means that people with great ideas but with little political influence within an organization are likely to be ignored for the sake of more politically connected employees in possession of bogus ideas. Finding a way of removing politics from project funding is vital for any company’s success or survival.
On the other hand, there are people who feel organizational politics can be harnessed for the good of the firm. An individual position in an organization determines and influences strategic planning, implementation of technology, evaluation method to be used, promotion criteria, information control and their unequivocal ability to influence certain range of decisions (Burnes, 1996). Most projects work best if the people working on them are able to connect and give their all to the project. Management can, therefore, identify how employees align themselves and group those with strong ties together in the hope that their bond will make them more productive.
Death march projects might be a strategy of saving resources in the form of time and money. In this highly competitive market, firms must find means of surviving or improving their profits. One strategy which has been shown to be an effective method is cost cutting measures. This means eliminating processes that are not necessary, and this might include laying off some employees. The only way to do so is to reduce the number of employees engaged in particular projects or limiting the time employees spend on any one project. Reduce cost of keeping a large workforce will translate to more revenue to the firm which can be diverted elsewhere to boost its productivity.
Most software developers and project developers are determined not to be involved in organizational politics, because they have discovered that they are not good at playing organizational politics, and also they find politics abhorrent (Krigsman, 2008). This kind of withdrawal might be detrimental to a firm, since lack of consultation and cooperation within departments has been shown to work against a company’s goal. Encouraging a healthy level of office politics will encourage cooperation across departments which might translate into better performance and more harmony in the workplace.
Having looked at the two opposing sides of organizational politics, it is clear that the negative attributes are more than the few perceived positives. While the counterarguments demonstrate that there are some ways in which office politics can be harnessed to aid an organization prosper, such strategies are too difficult to implement. This means that it is best to keep politics from designing projects and deciding who and what time the project needs. Organizations which continue to implement death march projects are likely to fail at one point or the other and the first place to begin in eliminating them is to root out organizational politics from important decisions.
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