Subtitle Number 1 : Overview : Explaining the Basic Principles Involved
The article “Critical Success Factors for Configuration Management Implementation” written by Usman Ali and Callum Kidd speaks, as the title illustrates, about the identification of the critical success factors in the configuration management processes, factors that contribute to the improvement and to a better implementation of the process, as practitioners apply them in their work.
After presenting the CSFs in detail (as they have been found in the developed research), the study further develops by introducing a new concept – the CM activity model, defined as a tool used for comparing the existent practices in order to generate solutions for improvement. The authors demonstrate the significance of this model in the daily work of managers who apply CM process. The identified critical success factors categories are exhibited in a design, indicating their relevance for the CM process and the connection between categories.
Following a schematized model of the CSF categories, each category is approached separately and in relation to the other ones, to which they are linked in the designed CM model. This description is very useful for the professionals working with CM processes, as it reveals the actual importance of each category of CSF. The authors also explain why the CSF categories are relevant for the activity of professionals who apply the CM process. Knowing their actual functions in the CM process and the interconnections with the other critical success factors, professionals can improve their activity, by correctly applying each CSF category.
Subtitle Number 2 : Numerical Example : Showing Various Steps of the Methodology
The writers detail how the methodology was applied. The study benefited of a mixed methodology, triangulation, which combined face to face, telephone or emails interviews in the form of written questionnaire. This combined research method was used as an effective measure to increase the accuracy and reliability of the data gathered, hence, of the research as a whole.
Using the descriptive analysis, through the utilization of SPSS measurement tool, there were identified seven categories of critical success factors in the configuration management. Each of them is attributed a mean value and a rank, in accordance with their significance for the CM. The seven categories of critical success factors identified are: execution strategies, decision takers, performance monitoring, sufficient resources, effective environment, communication, defined boundary.
The study has formulated the hypothesis according to which there is a difference in identifying the CSF for implementing the best CM practice. The difference consists in the “academic qualification, work experience, qualification/training, and experience in key stakeholder departments” (Ali & Kidd, 2012).
The findings treat each of these categories separately, for identifying how the participants ranked them in relation to the CM practice. The tested practitioners reported a differentiated perspective upon the certification/training category, as being a critical success factor. On the other hand, regarding the academic qualification and experience in key stakeholder department, the values registered were similar, according to the respondents’ opinions. This indicates that the presented hypothesis was partially valid, solely for the certification/training categories.
This part of the research paper is based on numerical evidence, illustrating the data retrieved from the questionnaire. After processing the questionnaire, the results gathered where examined through a descriptive statistics process, using SPSS as a methodological step for indicating the critical factors and their value, as they appear from the respondents’ answers. Each CSF was given a mean value, according to their significance.
4≤ mean value ≤ 5
Based on this qualification, there where established the top three critical success factors, out of the 21 indicated by the respondents. These are: management support, obtaining a mean value of 4.78, CM process reaching a mean value of 4.67 and CM planning, with a mean value of 4.64.
Subtitle Number 3
A very good starting point in the article is that it presents its limitations to specific activity fields. This indicates that the entire research has the identified results in the mentioned activity sectors (aerospace and defense industry). Another advantage of the article is that the writers, Usman Ali and Callum Kidd define from the beginning of the research paper specific terms, necessary for understanding the study: CM or CSF.
The detailed description of how the critical success factors for the CM were identified, based on the underpinned research, is very valuable for the overall research paper, offering accurate technical information about the indicators used to reach the found CSF.
The paper is well structured and the information is coherent. Because of the technical subject, and also because of the utilized analysis method, the research sets certain difficulties in understanding the methodology design. Nevertheless, overall the paper is significant, as it defines the critical success factors implied in the CM process, although it limits to the aerospace and defense sectors. The model developed, based on the underpinned research (CM activity model) is consistent and it could be useful for being applied in other activity sectors, as the authors speak about each CSFs significance in the CM process, defining situations available for other activity domains.
Nevertheless, the article is not entirely easy to be read by readers who are not used with the business language or statistical domain. The vocabulary utilized throughout the article is technical and imposes a focused reading for the proper absorption of the facts and for the comprehension of the information provided.
The text becomes very much focused on its uniqueness, as it explains in maybe too many details that the critical success factors has not been studied before in relation to configuration management, which makes the results of the developed study highly significant for understanding how the two working processes are linked.
Further on, the research develops the findings of the underpinned study, presenting also a set of analysis that lead to the identified findings, and discussions upon them. This section sets a higher difficulty level on the article, making it less comprehensible for the reader not familiarized with statistical science.
Another limitation of the article consists in the fact that the literature review is not explicit enough, nor is it consistent enough to have a clear image on what was written regarding this subject before, in order to understand what information from the existent literature is utilized for developing the underpinned study.
Ali and Kidd explain in their article that they are using the descriptive statistics using SPSS, but there are no definitions for these methodological concepts. This is a limitation, because the authors solely address a specific target group with this article, a target group that is familiar with the concepts and terminologies. The readers of the article who are not familiar with the concepts cannot understand the “Findings, analysis and discussion” section entirely, as the article is limited to a specific target group, who already knows the concepts involved.