This chapter presents the chosen research methods and how the research in this study has performed toward answering the research questions. The intention of this chapter is to define the research process, research perspective, data collection techniques (through our multiple-case study and survey) and also data analysis.
The research process
The core idea of this study has been shaped by discussions with the Volvo Group based on the challenges that they have faced while moving to Agile approaches in their large scale organisation. Although the main topic of this thesis has been given by the Volvo Group to be investigated, we were free to decide which areas around this topic needed to be focused on more, and what methodology and type of research would be appropriate.
We started our research with several meetings at the Volvo Group in order to gain a proper understanding of their problems and the kind of issues that they wanted to address. These meetings helped us to define our research questions. Later we met a responsible person (consultant of development, runtime and support) from the methodology department of the Volvo Group and he described the Volvo Group’s formal implementation of Agile. At the same time, we started to conduct our literature review on the topic to identify previous research and studies. For the next step we used a combination of multiple-case study and survey. We conducted semi-structured interviews for our case studies in Volvo for each particular project. The idea was to conduct such interviews first, in order to establish the scope of the challenges that Volvo has mentioned and also the relevancy of the challenges that we have found during the literature review. Then we prepared a questionnaire for our survey by analysing the collected data from the interviews. The questionnaires went out much wider across the Volvo Group. For the next step, we analysed all the data that we collected and defined the general success and failure factors on implementing Agile approaches in large-scale organisations. Finally some solutions and recommendations regarding the challenges and failure factors provided to Volvo Group were made.
In this section we present some different research and scientific perspectives and identify their relevancy to our study. We briefly describe the difference between these perspectives and mention the dominant perspective in this study.
Interpretive or positivism
Interpretive and positivism are two major traditions or philosophies of research. Positivism uses research methods in social science, which are applied from natural science. On the other hand, in interpretive (also known as interpretivist) the main concern of researchers is on the meaning that people interpret from their world (Williamson, et al., 2002, p. 25).
Positivist research is known as a scientific approach, which believes that knowledge can only be based on observation and experience from an objective viewpoint. Positivists also claim that the same approach to investigations in natural science should be used in social science (Williamson, et al., 2002, p. 27). Positivism approaches are associated with deductive reasoning, which aims to reach a particular instance from a more general principle. Williamson & Bow (2002) continued “positivists see the world as a collection of observable events and facts which can be measured.” Therefore positivism is more related to quantitative methods- it requires highly structured and organised approaches (Williamson, et al., 2002, p. 27).
Williamson & Bow (2002, p. 29) noted that interpretivists believe that the social world is different from the world of nature. They claim that everyone has a different understanding and interpretation of a phenomenon; therefore it is impossible to define a common perspective of the world. Researchers, through the interpretivism perspective, deal with various realities, which are socially and individually different; in contrast, the main task of interpretivists is to understand how the different participants in a social setting build the interpretation of the world around them. Although interpretivists plan their research, it is less linear than positivists. Williamson & Bow (2002, p. 29) noted that inductive reasoning is mainly associated with interpretive approaches whereas inductive reasoning is the opposite of deductive style; it concludes a general statement from particular instances. This perspective is mainly associated with qualitative techniques but quantitative methods can be used (Williamson, et al., 2002, pp. 30,31).
Qualitative or quantitative
The first and main difference between quantitative and qualitative approaches is the measurement factor, which is employed by quantitative approaches but not by qualitative research strategies. Also as we mentioned above, qualitative approaches are mainly connected to interpretive, while quantitative approaches are connected to positivism. In order to get a deeper understanding of these two research strategies we briefly describe each of them.
Ghauri & Gronhaung (2005, p. 109) noted that quantification is not the only difference between qualitative and quantitative methods, but also research objectives and the reflection of different viewpoints on knowledge. Qualitative methods mainly focus on understanding from a respondent’s viewpoint and they are process oriented. On the other hand, quantitative methods focus on facts and are mainly result oriented (Ghauri & Gronhaung, 2005, p. 110).
Qualitative methods offer a more flexible and dynamic research environment to the researchers where they can use a variation of material in order to gain a deep understanding of the situation. This method can help researchers in hypothesis building and explanation, while quantitative methods emphasise more on testing and verification (Ghauri & Gronhaung, 2005, p. 111).
In this study our main focus is to reach an understanding of the challenges and obstacles of Agile adoption in the Volvo Group. In order to reach this goal, we studied different implementations of Agile by people related to the Volvo Group through interviews and questionnaires. By this description the main concern and focus in this thesis is based on interpretive perspective and inductive reasoning.
Ghauri & Gronhaung (2005, p. 110) mentioned that, although most researchers place emphasis on only one method (either qualitative or quantitative) for their research, it is possible for them to be combined and used in the same research (Ghauri & Gronhaung, 2005, p. 110).
In this study we take advantage of both qualitative and quantitative methods as Ghauri & Gronhaung (2005, p. 111) recommended a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods for inductive researches. They explained that at the beginning of the research when “the problem is of an unstructured nature” researchers could use qualitative methods. Later, when the researchers have some explanations or hypothesis of situations or phenomena that needed to be tested, quantitative methods are suitable – in this stage researchers may accept or reject the explanations or the hypothesis (Ghauri & Gronhaung, 2005, p. 111).
It is also important to mention that we collected data from both theoretical and empirical sources for this study. We used literature review to capture the result of previous works in the area of our research and gain a good overall view about our subject. The theoretical analysis helped us to recognise the current studied issues and discover the gap of knowledge in the previous researches. Our empirical data gathered through interviews and questionnaires helped us to capture the real-life problems that the Volvo Group face while moving to Agile approaches.
In this study we are conducting a multiple-case study on the adoption of Agile approaches in the Volvo group. As Yin (2009, p. 18) noted, we used the case study method to understand a real-life phenomenon in depth.Since the nature of challenges depends on the kind of project that is adopting Agile, we decided to investigate more than one project. We considered each of these projects as an individual case in our study, therefore we conducted a multiple-case study. We studied five projects in the Volvo Group that partly or completely adopted an Agile approach and recognised the challenges in moving to Agile. Each of these projects presents one case in our multiple-case study. The main source of information for cases was through semi-structured interviews performed with both the ITPM and the CPM of each project . Later, we explain how these projects were selected and what factors we considered in the selection of the interviewees.
1.2 PURPOSE AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
2 Theoretical background
2.2 AGILE PROJECT METHODS
2.3 PROJECT MANAGEMENT
2.4 PROJECT GOVERNANCE
2.5 MARRYING PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND PROJECT GOVERNANCE WITH AGILE
2.6 RELEVANT STUDIES .
3 Volvo Group setting
3.1 VOLVO GROUP
3.2 VOLVO INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY (VOLVO IT)
3.3 DEVELOPMENT METHOD IN VOLVO
3.4 THE IMPLEMENTATION OF AGILE IN VOLVO
3.5 CHALLENGES PRESENTED BY THE VOLVO GROUP
3.6 PREVIOUS THESIS IN THE VOLVO GROUP CONCERNING AGILE
4.1 THE RESEARCH PROCESS .
4.2 RESEARCH PERSPECTIVE
4.3 MULTIPLE-CASE STUDY
4.5 DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURE
5 Findings and analysis
5.1 INTERVIEW RESULTS OVERVIEW
5.2 SURVEY RESULT OVERVIEW
5.4 SUCCESS FACTORS
5.5 FAILURE FACTORS
6 Discussion and conclusion
6.1 METHOD EVALUATION
6.2 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
6.4 FUTURE WORK
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
Applying Agile methodologies within the context of traditional project governance