Thursday, 30 October 2008

What do we mean by ‘complex’? Delivering complex projects; it’s not just about the project manager. Simon Henley

Programmes and projects are becoming more complex, sometimes spanning the lifetimes of several technologies, perhaps also with a dynamic project path. Through-life basis on which some projects are undertaken changes our attitude to completion – becomes full life management. Often can’t produce full work breakdown structure at outset.

Projects must be reduced to certainty wherever possible to allow management as we know it and use tried and tested PM techniques as introduced at MoD via their PPM specialism.

When is a project complex, not complicated? Characterised by uncertainty, dynamic interfaces and significant political or external influences.

Complex project strategies require:
• agreed definitions of desired outcomes
• critical success factors/measures
• planning for change
• appropriate tools and techniques
• incremental delivery of projects approaches.

Lead projects as systems:
• establish where certainty exists – manage it with traditional PM skills to deliver the known
• establish where uncertainty exists and establish strategies to manage
• cope with changing strategic needs while delivering coherent tactical solutions.

Programmes aren’t always analysed routinely for their uncertainty.
Appropriate governance requires:
• measure progress towards desired outcomes,
• organisational ability to make decisions with uncertain outcomes,
• appropriate approval/decision timelines,
• budget for incremental delivery,
• culture needed to make the above possible – dealing with uncertainty.

ICCPM (International College of Complex Project Management) seeks to provide international leadership to drive excellence in the management of complex projects.

Complex projects feature uncertainty, rapid rates of change and developing technologies among others– we need to find better ways of managing more of them.

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