To an extent, every project – indeed every future venture - has an inherent degree of complexity. We live in a constantly changing world. No-one can predict the changes in the external ‘PEST’ (Political, Economic. Social, Technological) environment with anything like 100% certainty.
In the simplest projects, such changes are unlikely to have much effect; but the level of project complexity grows in direct proportion to the number of areas of uncertainty, and there is a point at which possible changes in both the external environment and the capability of the internal organisation, demand that the level of complexity is identified and addressed. We term these areas of uncertainty ‘Complexity Drivers’ – not all of which affect every project to the same extent. They comprise any element of the project that interacts with its environment and other components, whether these be people, organisations, technologies and/or processes. Project Complexity Measures will thus be the combination of any given project’s complexity drivers, their depth, the number of interactions between them, and the organisational/ project team capability to deal with them.
There are two Complexity Driver dimensions.
Capability drivers are relevant to the organisation and the individuals who make up the project team;
Complexity drivers are project –specific; what is complex in any one given situation is not necessarily so in different circumstances
If complex projects are to be successfully planned and managed, it is extremely important to perform a Project Complexity Assessment (essentially an additional component of a pre-project risk identification phase) at the earliest stages of the project lifecycle; ongoing assessments maintain the currency of the analysis throughout, and are especially important when there are changes in team structures and composition, outcomes or external environments.
The PCAssessment process involves senior project team members independently completing a structured on-line questionnaire designed to quantify the level of the above Complexity drivers; the results are combined, analysed and presented back in a workshop environment, in which anomalous assessments may be discussed and resolved, and an accommodated Project Complexity measure agreed and documented alongside areas of significant weakness. This enables both mitigation and continuous monitoring to be achieved against the original baseline, in addition to identifying the need for the application of ‘2nd Order’ Project Management Tools and techniques.
The questionnaire contains 100 statements (weighted across all complexity drivers, some applying to more than one individual driver) against which respondents offer their own personal viewpoint on a 6-point scale: Strongly disagree, Disagree, Unsure but doubtful, Unsure but probable, Agree, Strongly agree.
Respondent confidentiality is preserved by the use of an individually issued token system. Replies are analysed using the following data:
• %tage score for each individual question – e.g. 30% strongly agree, 20% agree…etc
• Areas of significant agreement/ disagreement (both positive and negative)
• Weighted %tage score as above for each set of questions that relate to the same complexity driver group
• 6 by 6 Matrix Scatterplot of respondent’s capability scores vs. complexity scores