Risk, process maturity, and project performance: An empirical analysis of US federal government technology projects

Anant Mishra, Sidhartha R. Das, James J. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent years, there has been increasing pressure on the US federal government to reduce spending and improve the management of its technology projects. Mitigating the adverse impact of risks on the performance of these projects presents a significant challenge for its stakeholders. Our research examines this challenge in two steps. First, we identify and define a set of salient risks in federal technology projects - specifically, complexity risk and contracting risk in the planning process, and execution risk in the execution process. Next, we investigate whether higher levels of process maturity, assessed by the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) framework, mitigate the negative effect of project risks on project performance. The analysis of time-series data collected from 82 federal technology projects across 519 quarterly time periods indicates that each of the three types of risks has a significant negative effect on project performance. This finding highlights the practical significance of managing these risks in the federal technology project context. Further, we find that increasing levels of process maturity attenuate the negative effect of project risks on the performance of federal technology projects. However, the attenuation effects are consequential only at high levels of project risks; at low levels of project risk, increasing levels of process maturity can adversely affect project performance. To demonstrate the financial implications of increasing process maturity levels in federal technology projects, we examine the magnitude of project cost savings (and overruns) across different levels of CMMI and project risks. In summary, our study contributes to the sparse literature on public sector operations by addressing the understudied context of federal technology projects, and provides a nuanced examination of the implications of process maturity in managing the risk to performance relationship in such projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-232
Number of pages23
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Federal Technology Projects
  • Process Maturity
  • Project Management
  • Project Risk
  • Public Sector

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