Project Return

Initiating Projects Blindfold? Think Again!

September 21st , 2016

Across the globe, organizations are lured by the opportunities to seek and pursue projects in all industries. The opportunities to impact the top line, bottom line, market share, be the first mover in the market are some reasons here.

In the hope of exploiting such mouth-watering opportunities, organizations many times make the mistake of bidding for and executing projects almost blindfold. This is especially true of organizations wanting to scale up and join the big league. The medium to large organizations does the same to be the Numero Uno or to outsmart the competition.

Do you see any problem with this? Maybe not!

You might consider it as being a risk seeker!

But, isn’t there more than meets the eye? Needless to say, the cost implications are high when projects don’t go as desired!

So, what is the point that is being made here?

Different types of projects and different industries have different levels of complexities involved. If organizations do not clearly review and assess the inherent complexities, project success ends up being a ‘mirage’.

What are the drivers of complexity?

Different researchers approach complexity differently. However, there are a few parameters which are generally common.

One way of understanding complexity is to review parameters such as:

• Team Size, Time & Cost

• Team Composition & Past Performance

• Urgency & Flexibility of Cost, Time & Scope

• Clarity of Problem, Opportunity & Solution

• Requirements Volatility

• Strategic Importance, Political Implications, and Stakeholders

• Level of Change

• Risks, Dependencies & External Constraints

• Level of IT Complexity

Harvard research describes three levels of complexity namely:

Project ComplexityProduct ComplexityExamples of Projects
AssemblyMaterial, Component, Sub-system, Assembly• Development of PDA
• Post-It notes
• Design of a single service

SystemSystem, Platform of Systems• Missile development
• New computer development
• New automobile model
• A single building construction
• Restructuring a production plant

ArrayArray, system of systems• New neighborhood construction
• Nationwide cellular network
• Missile defense system
• Large City Metro Train system

Source: The Diamond Framework to Project Management, Harvard Business Press

However, current trends and research indicate that projects are categorized differently by organizations and their complexities differ as well. These three categories include:

1. Developing New Products – typically Research & Development

2. Customer Driven Projects – external projects

3. Internal Driven Projects – aimed at efficiency and productivity enhancements

When we marry the complexity drivers discussed earlier with the above three types of projects, what we see is a clear matrix of project types.

Looking at projects this way, organizations would be better equipped to bid for, plan and execute projects thereby significantly reducing the impact of negative risks to different classes of stakeholders\


What do you think?

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