In my book, Complex Project Management, A New Model, published last year, I presented a new project complexity model, developed as an outgrowth of significant research on topics such as complexity science, project risk management, project sizing and estimating, and project outcomes. The purpose of the model is to diagnose the complexity profile of projects, determine the complexity dimensions that are present on projects, and then examine management approaches to manage the complexities.
Initial Project Complexity Model
Version 1 of the model presented in the text looked like this: Exhibit 1 - Project Complexity Model, Version 1.
Validation of the Project Complexity Model
After an effort to validate the model with about forty (40) IT project managers, it was clear that the model was not yet comprehensive or complete. In addition, it did not appear to have effective discriminating criteria to correctly determine the project profile, resulting in almost every project being diagnosed as "highly complex" when clearly many were only moderately complex.
As a result, a new version of the model is emerging. At this point in the evolution of the model, it looks something like Exhibit 2 - Project Complexity Model, version 2. The key differences between the two versions of the model include:
- The addition of a fourth project profile, Highly Complex Program or "Megaproject"
- Rewording and tightening the verbiage that describes the criteria used to diagnose a project's complexity for each complexity dimension.
The Significance of Version 2 of the Project Complexity Model
To use the model, members of the core leadership team of projects (the project manager, business analyst, business visionary, solution architect, lead developer, change management expert) collaborate to select the appropriate cell that most accurately describes the project for each complexity dimension. Then, the following formula is applied.
Try using the model to diagnose the complexity of your current project. In future articles, we will present strategies to manage the complexity dimensions that are often present on highly complex projects or programs.
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Kathleen Hass is the president of Kathleen Hass and Associates, Inc., a consulting practice specializing in the business analysis, project management, and strategy execution. Ms. Hass is a prominent presenter at industry conferences, author and lecturer. Her expertise includes IT strategic planning, implementing and managing PMOs and BACOEs, facilitating portfolio management, leading technology and software-intensive projects, executive coaching, building and leading strategic project teams, and managing large complex programs.