Software development projects still fail at an unacceptable rate although prior studies have identified

critical success factors needed for project success. This study contributes to the project management

literature by providing further insight into the nature and role of ‘top management support’ (TMS),

which is widely recognised as one critical factor in the success of software development projects. The

study seeks insight into the nature and role of TMS from the perspective of software development

project managers and their perceptions of actions required by top management in facilitating project

success. A qualitative case-based approach was employed. Sixteen top management ‘actions’ are

identified, and subsequently framed by a conceptual model consisting of three top management roles:

strategy, facilitate and lead. The study represents the first stage of an ongoing research program. The

model will be tested in the Asia-Pacific region in the second stage. The expected final outcome of the

research program is a framework that will support project environments by defining top management

actions needed to support a software development project in different stages of the life of a project.