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Project Manager : Project Manager June July 2013
18 Project Manager •COVER STORY Ver non Ireland, the Director of Project Management at Adelaide University, provides an interesting ex ample of what constitutes a complex project. "Building a jet engine is complicated, but it's predictable. You don't get too many surprises, because you've got equations that relate to cause and e ect," he says. "Whereas dealing with ter rorism, suicide bombers, disputes between warring nations, the Global Financial Crisis, the Arab Spring -- none of that has a predictable nature. So we use the word 'complicated' to describe big, linear projects -- and putting the man on the moon is the perfect example -- and the word 'complex' for projects that are not predictable and not linear." A new toolkit Despite the fact that a solid CPM theory is yet to emerge, there is a general consensus that traditional project management tools are insu cient for dealing with complex projects. "A mistake that people often make is to try to control complex projects, but you cannot control complexity," says Atkinson. "You can envision it, you can in uence it, but you can't control it." As a result, says Atkinson, many of the performance management tools used for setting targets and goals within a non-complex or merely 'complicated ' environment break dow n in a complex environment. "If you start applying some of these tools in a comple x environment, it's like putting out the re with gasoline," he says. Hayes also says CPM must be approached di erently to traditional project management. "When you apply hierarchical linear methods to complex projects unilaterally, they don't cater for ambiguity and uncertainty, such as political in uence or a signi cant number of stakeholders," he says. "It is fair to say you can't use traditional techniques, because often, at the outset, you don't have a clear path to delivery. For things like the Murray Darling Basin or the National Disability Insurance Scheme, there are a huge number of stakeholders and the relationship between the state and federal governments to consider. So while you have a bright, shiny policy intent, program delivery can be quite di cult." IS COMPLEXITY A QUESTION OF SCALE? Not always. Although many large-scale projects contain complex systems, even small projects can be complex if they are prone to de-stabilising factors such as politics, a breakdown of the rule of law, numerous key stakeholders and culture. THE NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME Many key stakeholders and political factors. MURRAY-DARLING BASIN Many key stakeholders. BUILDING A SCHOOL IN AFGHANISTAN Small scale, but subject to unstable cultural, political, social and legal issues. EXAMPLES OF COMPLEX PROJECTS YOU CAN ENVISION IT, YOU CAN INFLUENCE IT, BUT YOU CANNOT CONTROL COMPLEXITY
Project Manager Apr May 2013
Project Manager Aug Sept 2013