A systemic exploration of risks in mobile application development projects and environments

Master Thesis


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Purpose - The aim of this research is to develop an understanding of the most common risks encountered during mobile application development projects and identify the interrelationships that exist between these risks to highlight the core risk drivers that negatively impact these projects and outcomes. Research design and methodology - This study adopted a holistic approach using Warfield's Interactive Management (IM) methodology to understand the risks that hinder MAD projects and understand the interrelationships between these risks to identify the core driving risks. IM can be divided into four phases. In the first phase, Idea generation, participants were asked through a survey to define their role and list the risks they perceive as most important within their environment. The second phase, Idea clarification, was actioned through online video calls where participants discussed the risks to get a shared understanding of each risk. The third phase, Idea structuring, was also executed through online video calls where participants agreed on the relationships that exist between each risk through pair-to-pair comparison using Interpretive Structural Modelling (ISM) software. The final phase, Interpretation, required participants to review the interpretive structural model and agree on the core risks that mainly negatively impact MAD projects. Research finding - The research revealed three core risks that significantly lead to other risks that will negatively impact MAD projects and environments within the context of this study. These risks include ‘Lack of platform knowledge', ‘Poor team skills and capabilities', and ‘Poor quality and observability of data/analytics to understand user behaviour'. Value of the research – This research contributes to the following: 1) Risks that are identified and prioritised as dominant risks can be compared to the lists from existing studies that aimed to highlight unique risks in MAD projects, 2) By understanding the inter-relationships between risks, a few root causes/risk drivers can be highlighted which should receive more attention throughout the project, 3) By adopting a systemic approach, it helps to reveal context-specific issues which may not be available in existing literature, and 4) The collaborative learning nature of the IM approach adds to research on the sustainability of complex MAD projects implemented in pluralist and coercive environments.