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Task

Your task is to consider the following

1.Explain the causes, environments, and properties of complex projects.

2.Identify different tools and techniques to aid a project manager manage complex projects. 

3.Critically analyse whether different projects cases are complex projects.

The Macando disaster

In general, there is a natural tendency among all organisms including humans to evolve complex responses to the challenges encountered by them in their environment, which is known as complexity. Particularly in case of managing the projects, responding positively to the complexity in projects must occur on the part of the organization as well as individual practitioners. In order to react positively, transformational leadership plays significant role in complex projects along with collective creativity in order to develop the system appropriate for a particular project, shared knowledge among those involved in project as well as processes adaptive as well as improved as per the requirement of the project (Maguire & McKelvey, 2009). Project management is perceived as a powerful solution to the complexity because modular design of a project management system along with the output of the project overtly developed to reduce the complexity of the projects up to the manageable proportions. The competencies that could lessen complexity to a greater extent are passive empathy, active empathy, and persuasiveness.

The Macando disaster was not identified to be as the result of a coincidental alignment of contrasting technical failures where it led to the blowout, the team of Chief Counsel identified particular management failures associated with every particular technical failure. The management failure at Macondo affected various operational aspects of designing and drilling the well. The team of Chief Counsel found management failures such as ineffective leadership during critical situation, failure to provide appropriate procedures, ineffective communication and gathering of information, poor training and supervision of employees, inadequate use of technology, ineffective management and misunderstanding among contractors as well as failure to appropriately analyze and appreciate risk. Eventually, the companies sited excessive reliance on appropriate interventions and human judgment considering their failure to provide individuals with the adequate information, tools and training essential for effective performance.


The Channel tunnel known as Chunnel project connects endways with the LGV Nord and High Speed 1 railway lines and it is one of the largest private financed construction projects. The management of the project requires significant effort for the smooth performance but at the completion of the project, it was found to be over budget and late (Rice University, 2018). The causes behind missing the major costs and schedule deadlines along with the other issues were found to be related to the lack of effective project management (Veditz, 2008).


In management of such complex projects, project managers accomplish their work through other people, which is the project team that actually provides the end product. It becomes essential for them to develop these behaviors that could encourage and develop team (Payne & Turner, 2007). The project manager needs to motivate them to plan well as well as to prepare for implementation along with carrying out the actual implementation. It is always good to be prepared for the things not only to perform in accordance with the plan but also to be prepared to ask for help if anything get over their heads till then, project manager should manage and collaborate with all the stakeholders.

Causes, environments, and properties of complex projects

The Channel tunnel project


Most of the organizations have developed their own means of assessing the complexity of projects due to varying reasons such as assisting with the employment of suitable governance resources or management or positioning it within a portfolio of projects considered for financing. Usually such assessment schemes consider factors which include technology, scale, size, supply chain, geography, time pressure, stakeholders and various others (Stacey, 2010). Project managers deal with behavioral complexity but in some cases, they themselves add to complexity by responding to the disruption by taking decision that might lead to feedback loops with unintentional consequences and even catastrophic failure. The overall system or behavior of the project is known as system city of the project, however, when feedback loops begin to develop; simple behaviors might combine to cause complex behaviors to emerge for the system as a whole (Maguire & McKelvey, 2009). In addition, when the understanding of the project managers regarding tools and techniques for the purpose of managing the projects is incomplete or inappropriate, it adds to the complexity of the project (Baccarini, 2011). Complexity in projects also arises due to the assumptions inherent in traditional models of project management but is incompatible with the actual systems in the organizational environment of that particular project such as project manager might lack the required authority to manage the project in an effective manner. There are various other causes of complexity in projects as well. The environment also becomes highly complicated because of complex projects and it becomes difficult for the project managers to deal with such an environment such as unaccommodated or misaligned stakeholder opinions of success, tension between product success and project success, political and public relations pressure influencing against performing appropriate things, lack of understanding or acknowledgement of nontechnical risk, utilization of competition as a weapon, lack of opportunity for engagement between the government and industry, tools and decision processes unsuitable for analyzing the uncertainty and such others (Anderson, 2002). The properties of complex projects include hierarchy in the form of systems and sub-systems, communication through which information regarding the state of the system is passed between components of the complex system, control through which complex systems maintain the stability of the relationship between their components and maintain their existence in the form of a system (Kerzner, 2005). The emergence is a property on the basis of which stable interaction between different components at a level of the system. The complex adaptive system can unexpectedly undertake a new form in response to changing conditions. Even small differences in the initial conditions in a complex project might generate unanticipated and often catastrophic effects, however, in response to the changes in the environment, complex project adapts to accommodate and take advantage of the changes in order to maintain or improve itself (Lissack & Gunz, 2011).

Managing Complex Projects


The disaster faced by the BP Company was one of the largest oil spills in the history. BP has been criticized for the management of disaster because it was supposed that BP initially underestimated the scale of disaster and overestimated their ability to address it. There was no initial action taken by the company for the purpose of crisis management and even after two days of the explosion, BP had equipped 32 vessels and 4 aircrafts, the number of aircraft had increased by one even after three days. However, BP eventually required 205 times the number of vessels and 32 times the number of aircrafts they initially used, the scale of the final response in comparison to the initial reaction of the BP was unambiguous (Swmoore, 2010). They utilized 32 boats initially and eventually needed 24 times the number of ships in the total Navy of the United States. This understated reaction seemed to be determined by the belief that the well was leaking 5000 barrels of oil per day but the actual situation was that the leak was 10 times more. It was found that BP did not understand the scale of project in which it was involved and that continuously highlighted its reaction to the disaster (BP Systems Ltd, 2018).


The Chunnel project is also a complex project and project management team considered communication as a vital role in the project not only for the project managers but also for all the team members. England and France worked together and there were communication gaps between the two teams which led to major delay of the project (Williams, 2002). The lack of effective planning for the project and none of them were aware about types of challenges during the project, every stage constituted of different problems such as reflected time factors which became the reason of increase in budget. Because of time delay and excessive budget, project faced ill-planned, poor change management, lack of effective risk management and lack of team work as well as communication, financial model optimistic led to the increase in costs (Eisner, 2005).

The causes of mishappening in complex projects are generally found to be lack of effective project management such as in BP project, lack of effective project management resulted in huge oil spillage. Similarly, the Chunnel project took a lot of costs and time resulted in over budget delayed project (Krasnoff, 2018). The environment was also affected due to these incidents such as company suffered lot damage to its reputation along with the financial loss because of the incident as well as Chunnel project was also delayed and became over-expensive because of the lack of effective project management. The projects can be handled in an effective manner with proper communication, managing the team along with proper planning, execution and implementation of the projects (BP Systems Ltd, 2018). The project managers of the company should take effective initiatives in order to accomplish the projects properly on time and within budgets. 

Causes of Complexity in Projects

Project management is considered as a challenging task and consists of various complex responsibilities. There are various tools available to assist the project managers in achieving the tasks as well as for executing the responsibilities, wherein, some require computer with supporting software while some require manual procedures. The project manager should utilize the most suitable project management tool for managing the project as per their style as there is no one tool to address all the requirements of the project (Maserang, 2002).


Network Diagrams are considered to be as one of the tools utilized by the project manager for the purpose of planning and is also referred to as “arrow” diagram as well because of use of arrows to connect the activities and represent priority and interdependencies between the activities of a project (Caietti, 2016). However, there are some assumptions that are required to be made during the development of Network Diagram. The first assumption in this sequence is that before the beginning of new activity, pending activities are required to be completed. The second assumption is that all the arrows indicate logical preferences due to which, the sequence with which the activities are required to be followed are represented by the arrows. The last assumption is that the network diagram should start from a single event as well as end with a single event as there cannot be multiple start and end points for network diagram. In order to calculate the total duration of the project through network diagram, project manager requires to define four dates for every particular task, in which, first two dates represent the date by when the task can be started while the second two dates represents when the task is complete. Through network diagram, project manager would become able to prevent the completion of project from getting delayed (Baker, 2010).


Critical Path Method (CPM) is also used by project managers for the purpose of monitoring the progress of the project in order to guarantee that the project is on schedule. The critical path for a project is the longest sequence of the activities in the network diagram and it is described by zero slack for all the activities on the sequence which means that smallest delay in any activity on critical path could cause delay in the overall timeline of the project (Sinnaps, 2018). So, it is essential for the project manager to carefully monitor the activities on critical path and ensure the smooth performance of the project. During the execution of the project, the critical path can easily shift due to the multiple factors and thus, are required to be continuously monitored by the project manager. In complex projects as BP Company is handling and Chunnel project, there might be multiple critical paths in the progression of the project.
The Program (or Project) Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) is also a form of Network Diagram and is used for identifying the critical path for the project. This technique simplifies the planning and scheduling of complex projects as well as to create more realistic estimates for the duration of every particular activity within the project (Milosevic & Iewwongcharoen, 2004). PERT consists of three kinds of estimates for each and every activity. The first estimate is the optimistic estimate which is represented as T-O and it considers all the factors that affect the activity. The optimistic estimates are slightly less than other estimates. The second estimate is the most likely estimate which is represented as T-M and assumes that the activity encounter some issues during execution and provides for possible defenses in the estimate. The third estimate is known as the pessimistic estimate which is represented as T-P and it assumes the wrongs that can occur during the execution of the activity (Chandana, 2018). It includes huge contingency buffers and is highest among all the estimates. The PERT network chart is conducted parallel as they are not reliant on each other and the duration of each activity is calculated using this method.

Properties of Complex Projects


Gantt chart provides a graphic schedule for the purpose of planning and controlling the project as well as for recording the progress towards completion of all; the activities included in the project. The chart represents the schedule of the project in the form of bar chart and assists the project managers in identifying the delays as well as schedule overruns in the project (Carey, 2011). Through this chart, the critical path for a project can be depicted and in this way, Gantt chart helps in representing huge amount of information in a compact graphical form.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is also one of the most commonly used project management tool. It is a delivery oriented classified breakdown of work and is usually used to define the total scope for the project as well as to identify required deliverables for the project which enables all the stakeholders to attain understanding regarding the project scope. It divides every particular project deliverables as well as activity into smaller and more manageable components (Acornlive, 2018). The activities kept at the lowest level of the WBS known as Work Packages, can be scheduled, cost estimated, monitored and controlled particularly. It enables the project to be planned, executed and managed in an effective manner.
There are various other tools and techniques that can be utilized by the project managers depending upon the situation and the types of projects. The project managers of the BP Company could have diagnosed the severity of the incident, if they have utilized their knowledge and appropriate tools and techniques for the purpose of identifying the best suitable way to manage the project. In a similar manner, the Chunnel project also required effective management of time and costs through which, the project could have been completed on time without any extra costs. The utilization of one of these tools of project management could have enabled the project managers to deal with the issues existing from time to time during the project. The utilization of PERT and CPM is considered as highly suitable for complex projects like projects being handles by BP Company and Chunnel project. It is the responsibility of project managers to plan, execute and manage the projects in an effective manner and to accomplish the projects within the scheduled time period.

Degree and nature of the projects cases

The case studies discussed in this essay have been drawn from varied projects of research, which helps in the investigation of the nature and the implications of the projects which are complex that are extended over the longer term projects (Project Management Institute, 2001). The business now days are becoming increasingly confusing and complex. A lot of companies are spending huge amount of money on the projects around the world. As the effects of the risks within the complex projects are difficult in understanding without analysis so we have undertaken two project works to understand the degree and nature of complex projects. Many of the projects now days need novel approaches for handling the enhanced complexity and large uncertainty. Complex projects are the ones which have both difficulty in management and challenging tasks. Complex projects need more than just management (CPM Consulting, 2018). The two cases discussed in this report are associated with an underwater tunnel (The Chunnel) and the 30 billion dollar blowout of BP. ‘The Channel tunnel is 59-kilometer rail tunnel which links Folk stone and Coquilles’. Since construction, the tunnel has faced many issues. Both the fire and the cold weather have temporarily disrupted the operations of the project. Tunneling was the main engineering challenge with the main precedent being the undersea Seikan Tunnel in Japan. The main risk faced by the engineers was the water inflow because of the pressure from the sea above under weak ground conditions. It was also facing the challenge of time as it was privately funded and earl financial returns were paramount (Akrich, 2000; Ivory & Alderman, 2005; Pm4id, 2018).

The BP Disaster


The second complex projects discusses about the Deepwater explosion on the April 20, 2010. Explosions and subsequent fire exploded which resulted in to sink of the horizon of deep water and even lead to death of 11 workers on the ship (Pallardy, 2010). It was a complex project as it involved an unusual degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. The managers of the project were supposed to take some decisions in an environment in which much of critical factors which are outside their control should have been discussed. The disaster happened because of the user process and incomplete planning specification (Whitty & Maylor, 2007). The unrealistic cost expectations and failure in performing projection introduced the factor of lack of risk analysis. The principal observation that emerge from this case notwithstanding the technical complexity of material handling or sledding of the resources, was actually not the technical complexity that turned up the project activities towards complex mode. instead the main element corresponding with the complexities in the management of the activities attached with the project came across because of the changes that were coming ahead because of regulatory context and the requirement of the knowledge faced by the project (Ameen & Jacob, 2012; Ivory & Vaughan, 2004; Bourne, 2011).

Underwater Tunnel Case


Fires incidents broke in the tunnel because of the heavy goods shuttles which were very close to the tunnel. Such errors does not occur because of one single isolated factor which can be error because of engineering, lack of effective systems of safety, failure in the follow-up of the procedures and roles for the varied systems that inevitably carried some imperfections (Youtube, 2015).


These types of imperfections cannot happen without any complexities and these complexities cannot be ruled out of the system; for instance, tight and more effective centralized controlling can be one reason as they are inevitable parts of keeping the functioning of the system in context of the demands which are conflicting in nature (Akrich, 2000).
For instance, the disaster of fire could have been avoided in case the signal man might have acknowledged the weight taken up by the goods train and set closeness with the tunnel. The century demands associated with the safety factor and the speeds were to coexist and these complex systems can never be coherent entirely. The issue of the competing demand with the complexity in system also shows their corollary in the projects (Project Management Institute, 2001).

Communication Gaps in the Chunnel Project


The projects are fragmented and rife with the various types of demands. Projects are inherently fragmented with contradictory demands of project. Even in simple level, there are some type of conflicting activities in the projects (Ivory et al., 2003). In the case of the underwater tunnel, the important things which were noticeable was that the project was having contradictions in between demands of the low costing, higher quality and quicker delivery nature (Ivory et al., 2003).

BP oil spill blowout Case

In the month of March, the rig source has experienced drilling and falling in the formation of under seal, sudden release of the gases and the falling of the pipe in the well and three occasions of leaking fluid. This particularly reveals that the process of regulatory basically increased the complexities in the project. Further, workers of BP not knowing what has to be done during leaking fluid case will be a great risk in future created regulatory complexity. Not only this many of the workers of the BP entered some wrong data for circumventing the system, that resulted into wrong perceptions of the safety of the rig (Pallardy, 2010).


Akrich (2000) has argued in his research that accidents in complex technical system have varied rather than one single cause. Complex technology system does not usually stiffed catastrophic failure because of the single component. Although the complex system is protected in depth by redundancy in the systems which helped in gaining alternate system; but still these type of systems are nevertheless undone in the multiple failure. In case BP oil supply outburst there were many minor failures that lead to the disastrous accidents. Being the complex project the project faced issues of multimodality and conflicting demands with complex systems. In case of BP oil burst out, initiating risk, which were manageable created causal loops that had effects much greater than expected

Conclusion

Using two detailed case study of long-term complex project, several characteristics of complex projects has been discussed and even implications for management have been discussed. The complex system metaphor need to encourage the project managers in seeing the projects as complex bound entities.

Each part of the case studies illustrated above describes the attempts for the management of the complexities being faced by the big projects. The project faced many difficulties and setbacks on various times but was still considered to be a successful one by companies involved and even by people who observed the scenarios. The projects do reveal some technical failure in their processing, but nevertheless, the implications associated with the project studies how failure and higher reliability organizations suggests the various type of principles and roles for the management of the projects which are complex (Akrich, 2000). The cases which have been discussed in the introduction sections reveals three types of issues which shows various types of complexities in the project. The complexities occurring reveals issues associated with multimodality, need of interventions and lack of organization (Williams, 2017). The cases reveal that the project which is complex requires the need for constantly intervening for the purpose of dealing with the complexities which basically stems from the tasks which are defined at hand room, the main attempt is for the management of the complexities (Akrich, 2000). It should be kept in mind that the complex projects are something which are new to employees and companies and it is very clear that the complex projects were also having a need for learning rapidly as every project progressed (Ameen & Jacob, 2012). The fact will always remain the same that complex projects do perceives in their own way to be delivering positive results as a testament of the varied efforts that are put in the project (Whitty & Maylor, 2007). All cases have revealed that employees working in the companies attempts hard to deal in with the complexities and issues occurring in the project for the purpose of reducing the complexities in complex projects (Ivory et al., 2003).


Moreover, the demand that was kept on the networks also remained quite contradictory. This lead to suggest that the arrangements that seek the complexities by breaking down elements, may simply be hiding the complexities from the immediate views (Ivory & Vaughan, 2004).


Poor amount of integration and gaps reveals that the contradictions are happening because of the demands of the projects and also by nature. In case of conventional projects, the clients basically issue downstream, however for the purpose of collaboration, the projects which are of a long time meant that they would have to deal with varied contradictions in their life cycle (Ivory et al., 2003). for instance, in case the outburst of BP oil was to prove the difficulty level maintain, despite the intention of designing the structure in a well-organized manner, the ramification still might have been felt by the authorities (Turner, 2012; Project Management Institute, 2001).


The foundation of the good project planning is based on the assessment of the environment of the project which surrounds it (Ivory & Alderman, 2005). The assessment of the project offers varied information on which the execution plan of the project is developed. In case accurate assessment of the environment is neglected or missed, then the leadership of the project develops some sort of assumptions and develops the execution plan (CPM Consulting, 2018). The more information managers will get regarding the project, the more chances of enhancement in timings and assumptions will be replaced with effective information and better estimates (Whitty & Maylor, 2007).


The project environment basically constitutes of various types of conditions that have the capability of affecting the results of the project which are associated with its size, scope technical capability, cultural understating and language understating. Understanding of such influences and development of project profile develops the foundation for the building of the effective execution plan of the project (Gpmfirst, 2018; Vidal & Marle, 2010).


The complex systems have varied parts which interact with one another in varied and often unpredictable ways. They adapt towards the changes in the external and internal environment. Complexities into project management are not that straightforward as just classifying the certain project complex or not that complex. It is quite imperative to understand the varied sources of the complexities and how they impact the process of project progress. In this essay, we have tried to analyze and interpret some of the key complexities and made the attempt in understanding the practitioner's viewpoint of the complexity matches with that of those presented in the cases. Keeping in mind the dynamic and complex contents of the projects, the recognition of the project complexity is gaining a lot of attention in the market and varied researchers (Azim, 2010) have made attempts to better understand the terms. In the past years, there has been much discussion on the project complexity element and despite all that has been written and said, it has developed some confusions that the clarity as the complexities and the project complexities has interpreted in varied ways. The essay reveals that the project complexity is basically lined with the interactions and the dependencies in between the elements of the project and is also strongly related to the novelty issues related to them. Interdependency, interfaces and the issues of novelty were some issues which were found to be significant and which are also supported by the fact the project actuality is characterized by the unpredictability and collaborative interactions amongst the diverse participants (Bourne, 2011).

Overall Conclusion


After going through the analysis being done on the complex projects and the complexity element, the essay has tried to offer some vision towards the varied concepts associated with the terminology of project complexity. This approach has led to the proposition of the illustration of the concept of the complexity of the project, the description of which has been discussed above in the essay. The approach of complexity is a promising approach for the purpose assisting the managers of the project in their task and industrial environment;. The managers of the project have revealed their predictive theories for developing the skill set based on the earning occupied by the managers for designing the systems and activities associated with the management of the project set on the basis of the learning they, which would yield the results they wish for.


The metaphor of the complex system is that the managers of the projects doe believe that an accessible way of considering the projects can help in supporting the learning tricks of managers. The understanding of the complex project reveals that the risk affects the project activities and even structure of the risks associated with the project. This situation has bene clearly defined in the literature of the essay. The main considering point over here is that the imprint casual links are considered to be the reactions to the risks. In fact, reactions given by managers for completing the project before time and making decisions in heat of the moment also give rise to casual links. Often the risks which cause project runaway are not individuals risks, rather a combination of risk in casual chains which along with actions of management builds of vicious circles of disruptions (Whitty & Maylor, 2007; Ameen & Jacob, 2012; Williams, 2017; Gpmfirst, 2018; Veditz, 2008). The projects studied under the research basically wet through structural complexities, technical complexities, and directional complexities. Technical complexity was faced by projects as they were having business issues associated with products that have never been produced every before. The technological complexity stemmed from interconnection in between the multiple interdependent options of solutions. It is basically encountered in architectural and technical engineering projects. The directional complexity happened because in some projects the employees were not clear about hidden agendas of the company. Such kind of complexity seems from ambiguity associated with the multiple potential interactions of goals. The main view of the essay has mainly been on consistently focusing that the complexity element is the function of the theory of complexity and it also focuses on varied dimensions of every aspect of the project. This basically means that each and every project possesses some degree of complexity in the same manner it has some sort of size, degree of the technicality issues and the uncertainty degree.

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My Assignment Help. Causes, Environments, And Properties Of Complex Projects Essay. [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2020 [cited 16 June 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/ppmp20014-complex-project-management/managing-the-projects.html.

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