Project management tools and techniques

the contingency use and their impacts on project success

Dragan Z. Milosevic
Portland State University,
Dept. of Engineering and Technology Management

and

Boonkiart Iewwongcharoen
Portland State University,
Dept. of Engineering and Technology Management

Proceedings of the PMI Research Conference
11-14 July 2004 – London, UK

According to a Chinese proverb, “to do good work, one must first have good tools.” It is also true for project managers, who if they want to deliver good project results, must first have good project management tools. This leads to the questions of which project management tools are the ones to be used and when should they be used. However, with a large number of project management tools available, project managers cannot use 100 tools to manage a single project. What they actually need is a manageable set of tools that they can use effectively and efficiently. Additionally, the project managers need to select the tools that are appropriate for the situational factors of the projects. This study will explore the situational factors that impact the selections of Project Management Tools and Techniques (PMTT) and how the use of PMTT impact project success.

Introduction

As studied by Kloppenborg and Opfer (2002), research in the project management field has increased dramatically in the last few decades. However, research in this field is still relatively young, and lacks a theoretical basis and concept (Shenhar, 2001). Due to the intensifying global market competition, project managers are required to be able to reduce time-to-market, improve the use of limited resources, handle technological complexity, and provide stakeholder satisfaction (Cleland, 1998).

According to a study by Roberts (1995a; 1995b), many organizations worldwide practice project management as a way to survive competitively in the global market. In order to survive in today's market, speed in developing products and services to respond to market needs is essential (Maidique and Zirger, 1984; Stalk and Hout, 1990; Eisenhardt and Tabrizi, 1995; Moore, 1995; Iansiti and MacCormack, 1997; Cusumano and Nobeoka, 1998; Davis and Meyer, 1998; Gupta and Souder, 1998; Dinsmore, 1999). Vesey (1991a; 1991b) reported on a study of high-technology products showing that products that were six months late in entering the market but were within budget earned 33 percent less over a five-year period than they would have had they been on time. However, products entering the market on time, even if they were 50 percent over budget, had profit reductions of only 4 percent for those products. In many cases, fast product development resulted in lower cost because lengthy time in development tends to waste resources on peripheral activities, changes, and mistakes (Clark and Fujimoto, 1989; Stalk and Hout, 1990). Resource limitations and competition based on cost have become critical to surviving in the market (Roberts, 1995; Cooper and Slagmulder, 1999). With the low inflation rate and changes in competition in the Internet age, companies find that it is more difficult to charge high prices for the products and services (Drucker, 1988; Cleland, 1998; Cusumano and Nobeoka, 1998; Davis and Meyer, 1998). Often, workers have to work on multiple projects at the same time in order to maximize the use of resources (Pinto and Slevin, 1988; Cusumano and Nobeoka, 1998; Adler, Mandelbaum, Nguyen, and Schwerer, 1999; Fricke and Shenhar, 2000). Cost controlling is a key for pricing the products and services with enough margins that are profitable to the companies (Maidique and Zirger, 1984; Cooper and Slagmulder, 1999). As new products and services currently are a major source of companies’ profits (Cooper, 1986; Shaw, Brown, and Bromiley, 1998; Hippel, Thomke, and Sonnack, 1999), and technologies involved in creating new products and services are more complex (Iansiti and MacCormack, 1997; Cleland, 1998), project management is then one of the solutions when developing new products and services. This is because project management is typically used for handling high technological complexities and uncertainty (Kerzner, 1984; Nicholas, 1990; Thamhain, 1992; Meredith and Mantel Jr., 1995; Cleland, 1998; Dinsmore, 1999; Fricke and Shenhar, 2000; Kerzner, 2000), such as the Apollo project and the undersea England-France tunnel (Nicholas, 1990; Meredith and Mantel Jr., 1995). Finally, delivering new product development projects and other types of projects has to meet requirements of project stakeholders, including customers and host organizations (Maidique and Zirger, 1984; Pinto and Slevin, 1988; Dvir and Shenhar, 1992; Roberts, 1995; Lim and Mohamed, 1999; Kerzner, 2000). Evidence shows that many good products did not succeed in the market because they did not meet the expectations of customers (Roberts, 1995; Christensen, 1999). It is also pointed out by McKenna (1995) that, although time-to-market is important, acceptance from customers is the major key to success. By practicing project management properly, the host organizations can create a competitive advantage in global competition and respond to the issues of reducing time to market, maximizing the use of resources, handling technology complexity, and satisfying stakeholders.

Project Management Tools and Techniques (PMTT)

A crucial function of PMTT is to deliver successful projects more effectively and efficiently. This is because PMTT are considered an important element of project management processes as depicted in Figure 1 (PMI, 2000; APM, 2000).

Project management process per APMBOK (APM 2000)

Figure 1: Project management process per APMBOK (APM 2000)

The definitions of tool and technique provided by Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (1996) are as follows. Tool is defined as something (as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession (Merriam-Webster Inc., 1996). Technique is defined as a method of accomplishing a desired aim (Merriam-Webster Inc., 1996). In this context, PMTT mean systematic procedures or practices that are used for producing specific project management deliverables (Milosevic, 2003).

Many authors agree that the use of PMTT in general has impacts on project success (Might and Fischer, 1985; Cash and Fox, 1992; Hatfield, 1995; Thamhain, 1996; Milosevic, Inman, and Ozbay, 2001). Toney and Powers (1997) discuss potential benefits of an appropriate use of PMTT as follows: increase efficiency, reduce training, improve project predictability, increase stakeholder confidence, increase probability of project success, and improve communication. Additionally, they also suggest that project managers should have adequate knowledge of and experience in the use of PMTT as a requirement. A study by Might and Fischer (1985) shows that if project managers select which PMTT to use in managing projects by themselves, it will lead to a better chance of having successful projects. Kerzner (2000) notes that one of the weaknesses in implementing project management is the lack of focus on PMTT. Nicholas (1990) mentions that one reason for project failure is an inappropriate use or misuse of PMTT. Some field studies show that an inappropriate use of schedule/budget tracking and control tools and techniques can be counterproductive to overall project performance (Cash and Fox, 1992; Hatfield, 1995; Thamhain, 1996).

Literature Review

To lay the foundations for this research, a discussion on the literature regarding PMTT is beneficial. The literature on PMTT can be categorized in three major streams: applications of PMTT, contingency approach on the use of PMTT, and PMTT as critical success factors.

Stream 1: Applications of PMTT

This stream of research discusses how to use PMTT, when to use them, and what the benefits of using them are. For example, some authors discuss the use of Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) as a tool for project selection and risk management (Brenner, 1994; Mian and Dai, 1999; Dey, 2002), Earned Value Management (EVM) is considered as a tool for project monitoring and control (Brandon Jr., 1998; Fleming and Koppelman, 1994, 2000, and 2002;

Kaufmann, Keating, and Considine, 2002), and Monte Carlo technique is used for project risk management (Balcombe and Smith, 1999). However, disagreement in this stream exists due to some authors’ claim that a certain tool or technique can outperform others. For instance, Leach (1999) claims that using Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) for project planning and control can reduce project duration significantly compared with using other planning and control methods, such as Monte Carlo or Earned Value. Kinsella (2002) suggests that the use of activity-based costing can provide better results in cost estimating and budgeting compared to other methods. Nevertheless, the suggestions claiming a superior result by using a certain tool or technique are heavily based on conceptual claims or experience rather than empirical research.

Stream 2: Contingency Approach on the Use of PMTT

This stream of research examines the use of PMTT. The literature on project management, in general, discusses the use of PMTT with the universal approach in mind - where PMTT can be used regardless of project situations and characteristics - despite the fact that every project has its own situations and characteristics. However, another concept appears in the literature, which suggests that managing projects that have different environments requires different sets of PMTT depending on the situational factors. This concept is referred to as the contingency approach (Webster, 1982; Bu-Bushait, 1984; Shenhar and Dvir, 1996; Coombs, McMeekin, and Pybus, 1998; Evaristo and van Fenema, 1999; Payne and Turner, 1999).

The research in this stream is intended to address the practice of PMTT in project management. Attempts at empirical studies that have their primary focus on the use of PMTT then surface in the literature. For instance, a dissertation by Bu-Bushait (1984) attempted to identify the relationships between the application of project management techniques and project characteristics. Fox and Spence (1998) conducted a survey on the use of project management tools. (However, with the different interpretations of project management tools’ definitions, the tools in their study are all project management software.) Thamhain's study on project managers’ familiarity and use of PMTT (Thamhain, 1999) shows that, out of 23 PMTT, only three of them are used by more than half of the organizations that responded to the survey, and the project managers have only about 50% basic familiarity with those tools and techniques. From the list of 44 options of tools and techniques, White and Fortune (2002) found that project managers use only a few tools and techniques. Coombs et al. (1998) found that different PMTT are used in different phases and types of Research and Development (R&D) projects. Raz and Michael (2001), in a study focused solely on project risk management with 38 project risk management tools included, investigated the frequency of use, the perceived contribution of usage to project success, and the extent to which usage was associated with high performance of Israel's software and high-tech industries.

Although studies on the use of PMTT exist in the literature, only a few address how to select PMTT when projects are dependent upon situational factors and how the use of PMTT correlates to project success.

Stream 3: PMTT as Critical Success Factors

Finally, the last stream of research treats PMTT as Critical Success Factors (CSF) of projects. PMTT (e.g., Gantt chart and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)) and/or the results generated by them (e.g., project plan and project schedule) are considered critical success factors that have impacts on project success, as appear in some studies (Might and Fischer, 1985; Pinto and Slevin, 1987; Pinto and Slevin, 1989; Pinto and Mantel, 1990; Pinto and Prescott, 1990; Balachandra and Friar, 1997; Morris, 1998). For example, Might and Fischer (1985) identify the Critical Path Method (CPM), Gantt Charts, and other planning and monitoring techniques as critical success factors. Pinto and Slevin (1987; 1989), Pinto and Prescott (1990), and Pinto and Mantel (1990) identify schedule and monitoring/control techniques as critical success factors in their studies. Beale and Freeman (1991) discuss systems and procedures, which include planning and control techniques, as critical success factors.

Although the literature in this stream views PMTT as critical success factors of projects, they are not the main focus of the research. Typically, the researchers include only a small set of PMTT. This small set of tools and techniques does not represent the comprehensive list of PMTT available.

Literature Gaps

Regardless of how important the use of PMTT impact project success, the literature on PMTT is still full of unexpected gaps, and two of those gaps are the cornerstones of this research. First, the literature on project management typically treats the use of PMTT with the universal approach, while there are some suggestions that the use of PMTT should be contingent upon project situations. Second, the literature generally does not offer evidence as to what PMTT contribute to the project's success under various project situations. Responding to those two gaps, we posit that the use of PMTT should be contingent upon project situational factors (or the contingency approach for the use of PMTT) and project success is dependent on the contingency use of PMTT.

Project's Situational Factors

To respond to the first gap, we will explore the contingency approach of the use of PMTT and the situational factors that impact the selection of PMTT. The underlying concept of the contingency approach of the use of PMTT is that the situational factors of the projects will have impacts on the selection and the use of PMTT (i.e., which PMTT to use and when to use it). Shenhar and Dvir (1996) mention in their study that projects of different kinds should use different sets of tools and techniques. Additionally, the situational factors can have great impact on project success. Therefore, understanding these factors can benefit project managers in several ways (Slevin and Pinto, 1987; Belanger, 1997; Dvir, Lipovetsky, Shenhar, and Tishler, 1998; Evaristo and van Fenema, 1999; Kloppenborg and Petrick, 1999; Payne and Turner, 1999; Phillips, Phillips, and Bailey, 1999; Shenhar, 2001; Crawford, Hobbs, and Turner, 2002). These benefits can be any of the following:

  • Improve quality of projects
  • Meet or exceed customer requirements
  • Reduce project planning time
  • Reduce costs of projects
  • Reduce duplication of work and effort
  • Improve the quality of communication among stakeholders
  • Select PMTT to fit with the projects
  • Assist researchers in expanding the research through meaningful comparisons among project situations and characteristics
  • Identify key performance indicators and critical success factors for different project situations and characteristics
  • Allocate projects and resources to the responsible department
  • Select project managers
  • Allocate budget
  • Prioritize projects and alignment with the host organization's strategies.

Generally, the situational factors are used in classifying project types. Yet defining types of projects in the literature is the area that is full of debate, as shown in a work by Crawford, Hobbs, and Turner (2002). We can say that the situational factors that have impact on project success are countless. To limit this study to a feasible scope, the situational factors that will be of interest are: phases of project life cycle, sizes, strategic foci, and types.

Phases of Project Life Cycle

The definition of project life cycle is that it models the processes of how projects are done (Cleland, Kocaoglu, Brown, and Maisel, 1981; Adams and Caldentey, 1997). As noted by Slevin and Pinto (1987), “The concept of a project life cycle provides a useful framework for looking at project dynamic overtime.” An example of a generic project life cycle model has four phases: conceptual, planning, execution, and termination. Throughout these four phases, the factors that have impacts on projects can change greatly from one phase of the projects to the others. In addition to the factors that change accordingly to the phases of the project life cycle, the use of PMTT also differs across the phases. For example, Coombs et al. (1998) discusses that different PMTT are used in different phases of projects, and that the metrics for project success change from one phase to the other. Mian and Dai (1999) mention that the use of Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) can be used through many phases of the project life cycle, and is contingent upon the inputs and objectives of each phase.

The changes of the factors and the use of PMTT in different phases of the project life cycle are a result of the objectives and the activities of each phase being different. In the conceptual phase, the objectives include selecting projects that respond to the organization needs and forming the project team that has all the required skills, etc. In the planning phase, the objectives are shifted to developing a detailed plan of projects (for instance, estimating the cost for conducting the projects), reviewing the risk associated with the projects, identifying the tasks needed, and scheduling all the tasks. During the execution phase, the main objectives are monitoring how tasks are performed compared to the plan and controlling the tasks with some adjustment if needed. Finally, in the termination phase, handing over results of the projects to the clients and postmortem analysis of the projects are the important objectives. All these objectives and activities impact the selection of PMTT. Thus, our first proposition is:

Proposition 1: Phases of project life cycle impact the selection of PMTT.

Table 1 provides examples of the activities in each phase of a project and the PMTT that may be used in each phase.

Examples of PMTT in different phases of a project life cycle Project Sizes

Table 1. Examples of PMTT in different phases of a project life cycle

Project Sizes

Project sizes, in general, can be determined by monetary value, number of tasks, lengths of durations, or number of people involved. The sizes of projects are usually termed as small, medium, or large. The increase in project size typically increases the complexity as well as the durations of projects. Beale and Freeman (1991) found in their literature review that large projects have a higher chance of project failure due to the uncertainty and complexity of the projects. Pearson, Green, and Ball (1979) note that increasing R&D project size creates problems of matching workload with capacity. Al-Arjani (2002), using size of projects determined by monetary value, found that the size of maintenance and operation projects influences the number of bidders because when the project size increases, the average number of bidders also increases. Banker and Slaughter (1997) found that the increasing of project sizes has a benefit to the cost of software maintenance projects by the scale economies. Akintoye (2000) found that the durations of construction projects impact resource requirement, budgeting, and bidding contracts. These can result in a profit or loss to the projects.

Project size has an impact on many factors concerning the projects because of the increase in uncertainty and complexity. The use of PMTT also varies depending on the uncertainty and complexity, which are influenced by the size of projects. For example, projects of smaller size require PMTT that are simple and can be easily used by the project managers. Projects of larger size, on the other hand, require PMTT that can handle the high complexity of the projects. Thus, our second proposition is:

Proposition 2: Size of projects impact the selection of PMTT.

Table 2 represents some examples of PMTT that are used in different sizes of projects.

Small Medium Large  

- Scope statement

- Responsibility matrix

- Gantt chart

- Progress report

- -Jogging line

- Project charter

- Gantt/milestone chart

- Risk response plan

- CPM/TAD

- Earn Value Management

- Progress report

- Change request

- Scoring model

- Project charter

- Stakeholder matrix

- AHP

- Monte Carlo

- Progress report

- Earn Value Management

- Milestone analysis

- Risk log

- Postmortem review

 

Table 2. Examples of PMTT in different project sizes

Strategic Foci

Project performance typically is measured by three factors: time, cost, and quality. Thus, these three factors are used as the objectives and constraints for project managers. Project managers have to balance project performance around these three factors as a basic requirement. However, at the critical point in the project life cycle, managers may have to focus on only one of the three factors and give a lower priority to the others. Hence, the project's strategic foci in this context mean which one of the three will receive the highest priority depending on the conditions of the projects. There are three strategic foci, schedule-driven, cost-driven, and cost-quality-driven strategic foci, as mentioned by Milosevic et al. (2001).

The different strategic focus of a project will lead to different elements of project success. For example, a project with a schedule-driven focus has a better chance of being delivered on time. However, it may increase the cost of the project significantly. Additionally, a different strategic focus will influence project managers as to how they select and use PMTT. The strategies of project management also depend upon project strategic foci (Milosevic et al., 2001). Kerzner (1982a, 1982b) surveyed 21 industries in different fields on the preferential tradeoffs among these three factors. He found that projects in different industries seem to have different strategic foci. For instance, construction projects tend to sacrifice time instead of cost, while engineering consulting projects tend to sacrifice cost to meet the deadline. With the different strategic foci, the PMTT that will be used by project managers can be different from one focus to another. For instance, a schedule-focused project requires a use of PMTT that helps accelerate the progress of projects with less concern about the cost, while a cost-focus project requires a use of PMTT that minimizes the cost of projects with less concern about how long it takes to complete the projects. Thus, our third proposition is:

Proposition 3: Strategic foci of a project impact the selection of PMTT.

The selection of PMTT for each strategic focus should consider that the central role, priority, most of managements’ attention, and primary basis of decision-making belong to the PMTT with such a focus. For example, a schedule-driven focus draws those characteristics around PMTT for scheduling and time management, while a cost-driven focus draws the characteristics around PMTT for cost management and control. Other PMTT that do not directly support the strategic focus will be adapted and have less priority.

Project Types

Defining types of projects in the literature is an area that is full of debate. A work by Crawford et al. finds a variety of factors on how to classify project types (Crawford, et al., 2002). The classification systems are based on many situational factors. Some already discussed in this paper include phases, size, and strategic foci. Nonetheless, among those dimensions that are used for project classification, a model using the technology uncertainty dimension and system complexity dimension for classification developed by Shenhar (2001) is among the well-accepted situational factors in project management research. For example, Dvir et al. (1998) found that project success factors are contingent upon the specific types of projects, where the types of projects are classified by technology uncertainty and system complexity. Not only is project success contingent upon project types using these two dimensions, the use of PMTT should also be tailored to fit the types of projects (Shenhar and Dvir, 1996). Adapted from Shenhar's model, we create a two-by-two matrix that features four major types of project (see Figure 2): routine, administrative, technical, and unique (Milosevic, 2003).

Some of the PMTT used in each type of projects are similar. However, when combined with a set of PMTT, each type of project has a different set of PMTT. Thus, our fourth proposition is:

Proposition 4: Project types impact the selection of PMTT.

Four types of projects (Milosevic, 2003)

Figure 2. Four types of projects (Milosevic, 2003)

Administrative Projects Unique Projects  

- Detailed, precise scope definition, large WBS (many levels)

- Complex PERT/CPM charts

- Detailed cost estimate and cost baseline

- Qualitative risk response plan

- Evolving scope definition and WBS (many levels)

- Fluid hierarchical scheduling (Gantt charts, milestones) with rolling wave approach

- Fluid milestone cost estimate

- Fluid risk response plan, Monte Carlo analysis

 
Routine Projects Technical Projects  

- Simple, precise scope definition, simple and stable WBS

- Simple Gantt chart, milestones

- Simple cost estimate

- Informal risk response plan

- Simple but evolving scope definition and WBS

- Fluid milestone charts, rolling wave approach

- Fluid milestone cost estimates

- Fluid P-I matrix, occasional Monte Carlo analysis

 

Table 3. Samples of PMTT in different project types

The Use of PMTT and Project Success

To respond to the second gap, we will discuss how project success is dependent upon the contingency use of PMTT. With an appropriate use of PMTT by selecting the PMTT that is suited to the situational factors, project managers should be able to deliver better project results. The appropriate use of PMTT can lead to some potential benefits such as increased efficiency, reduced training, improved project predictability, increased stakeholder confidence, increased probability of project success, and improved communication (Toney and Powers, 1997). Might and Fischer (1985) found that if project managers are authorized to select the PMTT to use for managing projects themselves instead of other stakeholders selecting the PMTT for them, the projects will have a higher chance of becoming successful. Using PMTT that are improper for the situational factors leads to abysmal results for the project (Cash and Fox, 1992; Hatfield, 1995; Thamhain, 1996; Toney and Powers, 1997).

For instance, in the conceptual phase, project managers should use PMTT that help with project selection, form teams, and identify tasks that need to be performed. Those PMTT can be project charter or WBS. Using Earned Value Management in the conceptual phase will not yield the deliverables that should be done at that phase. For routine projects, project managers only need to use a simple version of WBS. Using a large WBS with many levels will create confusion and delay the projects. Thus, our fifth proposition is:

Proposition 5: The appropriate use of PMTT has a positive impact on project success.

Toward a Contingency Model of the Use of PMTT

This paper explores the contingent use of PMTT in different project situations. Such situations include various project life-cycle phases, project size, strategic foci, and project types. The findings are a set of propositions, indicated in Figure 3. They are organized around mediating processes: strategic alignment, customization, and continuous improvement of PMTT.

The contingency approach model of the use of PMTT

Figure 3. The contingency approach model of the use of PMTT

Strategic Alignment

The purpose of PMTT is to enable the successful implementation of projects that will effectively support an organization in pursuing its competitive strategy and goals. To make this happen, one needs to fully align PMTT with the competitive strategy. For that reason, one of the propositions is directed at how organizations and their project managers need to select PMTT in order to be strategically aligned. For example, an organization with a strategy of fast time-to-market will emphasize schedule-driven strategic focus of projects. For this to be possible, the organization needs to use a schedule-driven PMTT as the central role, and the priority of the PMTT selection belongs to PMTT that can help accomplish project cycle time at the fastest possible rate (Proposition 3). These are schedule planning and control tools that set the tone for the organization's schedule-driven projects - Gantt Chart, CPM/PERT diagrams, milestone chart, etc. Simply, most of the management attention and time goes to these PMTT, and they also serve as the primary basis in crunch times for making key decisions. In contrast, an organization bent on the low-cost leadership strategy will have strategic focus on the cost-driven projects. In such projects, the primary attention and management time are devoted to cost planning and control PMTT. Even schedule PMTT are adapted to support the low-cost goals (Proposition 3). Gantt charts, known for their simplicity and low development cost, are the scheduling PMTT of choice, aiming at project durations that offer the lowest cost of project execution. Hence, we can conclude that strategic foci must be aligned with organization's strategy and dictate the selection of PMTT that will contribute to project success (Proposition 5).

PMTT Customization

Four propositions hint at how organizations perform customization of their PMTT, the second mediating process in Figure 3. As aforementioned, each PMTT is chosen to support a specific activity or managerial deliverable in the project process. Therefore, the first step is to lay down the project process according to the situational factors in projects, and then comes the selection of individual PMTT to support the deliverables in the process and the situational factors. For example, an organization looking at choosing individual PMTT will make sure that the selected tools support all deliverables in individual phases of the project life cycle (Proposition 1). Also, an organization dealing only with small projects will select and use a few simple PMTT that are sufficient to complete the projects of that size (Proposition 2). When the strategic focus is clear in an organization's projects, every effort should be made to have all PMTT that are required to finish such projects (Proposition 3). Those running technical and unique projects should ensure that they selected all PMTT they need to complete the projects (Proposition 4). In a nutshell, the customization of PMTT is performed to account for all project situations and contribute to project success (Proposition 5).

Continuous Improvement

The purpose of this mediating process is to put in place the rules for continuous maintenance and improvement of the customized PMTT. Without such improvement, PMTT will gradually deteriorate, losing the ability to support the projects, their situational factors, and eventually the competitive strategy of the organization. Avoiding such problems and sustaining the strategically aligned and customized PMTT can be achieved through identifying improvement mechanisms and improvement process. For example, an organization that has strategically aligned and customized PMTT will implement an improvement process that ensures that upgrades and improvements of PMTT will continue to support situational factors in its projects, including PMTT for various phases (Proposition 1), size (Proposition 2), strategic foci (Proposition 3), and types (Proposition 4). Such PMTT will contribute to project success (Proposition 5)

Conclusion and Contribution

This paper is an attempt to advance the literature on the contingent use of PMTT. It is a part of a larger research. However, at this stage, it contributes to the body of knowledge by synthesizing the pertinent literature and propounding a conceptual framework regarding the use of PMTT in different situational factors, something that has not been done in the extant literature. The situational factors have impact on the selection of PMTT, and the appropriate use of PMTT has positive impact on project success. Four situational factors are of interest in this study: phases of project life cycle, sizes, strategic foci, and types. These situational factors impact the selection of PMTT through three key mediating processes: strategic alignment, PMTT customization, and continuous improvement. By having an appropriate set of PMTT that matches the situational factors through key mediating processes, project managers will be more likely to deliver successful projects. Nonetheless, at this stage of the research, we still lack empirical evidence of the proposed conceptual framework.

In order to complete the scope of the research, the next stage is to empirically test this conceptual framework by conducting a nationwide survey in order to measure the use of PMTT in practice, and to measure how the use of PMTT correlates to project success. The contribution of the empirical study will provide information regarding what PMTT should be used in a given condition with the higher correlation to project success. We believe that the findings of this study will have a major impact on both practitioners and researchers. They will see what tools in which situations impact both the overall project success and the individual elements of that success (e.g., schedule only). Finally, this study will offer project managers a special benefit: a set of contingency guidelines, directing them as to what PMTT to use in order to match the specific situation of their projects and project success requirements.

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