Top Management Support, a key factor in IS Project Success?

5 Feb


In my previous blogs I discussed how IS fails, and how to avoid failure[1]. [2]. In this blog I am going to discuss a particular critical success factor (CSF), top management support, (TMS). In a recent blog post entitled, “Critical Success Factors (CSF)”, ronanisbp blogged about CSF’s [3]. This blog post will focus solely on TMS as Young and Jordan (2008) [4] have presented an intriguing article emphasizing its importance.

In their 2008, article, “Top Management Support: Mantra or necessity?” , Young and Jordan, (2008) [4], investigate the idea of top management support, (TMS), and the role it plays in IS success. “Practitioners and Researchers alike, have focused their attention on factors they can more directly control and appear to only pay lip-service to TMS.” This paper aims to reconsider TMS from the perspective of boards and top managers. The primary research question, “How important is TMS?”

Young and Jordan, (2008), opted to examine their research question in the context of IS projects, due to the critical nature of their success. “An issue demanding board level attention because of the high levels of investment and the strategic consequences of failure.” The authors provide a broad definition of TMS in their literature review, “Top management support is defined as: devoting time to the [IS] program in proportion to its cost and potential, reviewing plans, following up on results and facilitating the management problems involved with integrating ICT with the management process of the business.”

The research question is examined using the descriptive case studies of five companies in Australia. The appendix of the articles displays all 59 interviews with project sponsors, top managers, members of the project team, and stakeholders. In the research, five CSF’s were used to evaluate whether or not TMS was the most important factor for sucesss. The results from the five companies Tech Serv, TechMedia, ABS, Agency and Sky High can be seen in the table below. The most important CSF is the top one, (TMS), and the least important is at bottom, (Project Staff). The numbers next to each CSF are the, “conventional understanding of relative importance as suggested by Standish.”

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 16.25.09

In their analysis of the authors reveal that the results support their hypothesis that TMS is the most important CSF. “TMS is most dependent on the ability of the project sponsor to work with other top managers to authorize business process changes and make decision to mitigate or bear risk.”

This paper rejects project staff, high level project planning, user involvement and project methodology as CSF’s in support of TMS as the ultimate CSF. Do you think that TMS is the only CSF and the other CSF’s are not as important for IS success?


[1] “Why Information Systems Fail”,

[2]”Earned Value Management and EVM Lite”,

[3]”Critical Sucess Factors (CSF)”,

[4] Young, R. Jordan, E. (2008), “Top Management Support: Mantra or Necessity”, Volume 26, Issue 7, October 2008, Pages 713-725

3 Responses to “Top Management Support, a key factor in IS Project Success?”


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