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Your task is to consider:-

  • the causes, environments, and properties of complex projects;
  • different tools and techniques to aid a project manager manage complex projects;
  • the degree and nature of the projects cases discussed in the unit in the context of the theories and ideas related to complex projects.

Then you must write an essay describing how you consider the points above are related to:-

  • projects with lots of parts and interconnections;
  • projects that contain a great deal of uncertainty;
  • project that are heavily time-constrained.

You should illustrate your points by identifying what are the causes, theories, tools and techniques, that might be relevant to complex projects. You should use examples taken from case studies and examples discussed during the unit.

The primary purpose of this assessment item is to help you to be able to define your thinking and allow you to classify the tools and techniques related complex project management. The secondary purpose of this assignment is to give you the opportunity to enhance your analysis, critical thinking and written communication skills; particularly in the areas of argument development and essay writing.

Project Complexity

Construction projects for a long time have been described as dynamic and complex. The construction projects are amongst the most complex undertakings. Even though there is no clear, universally accepted definitions of complexity, there has been many definitions of the term project complexity.

What makes up the complex projects? In most cases complex projects are viewed as complex due to their team size, budget, stakeholder engagements, strategic viewpoint and the impact of the dedicated teams doing projects based work that may span from one to five years with extensions. Usually managing complex projects presents a series of challenges greater than those experience in the typical project management (Hass, 2016, p. 274).

In the construction industry, organisations are under a lot of pressure to deliver high level of performance in order to satisfy the clients and other stakeholders within the given time frame. Due to that organisations in the construction industry are required to manage complex projects much better. The contractor in construction is at the forefront of managing projects; hence their influence and impact on delivery to achieve the goals and objectives of the complex project cannot be underestimated (Kerzner, 2012, p. 119).

The idea of complexity in managing complex construction projects have been established in two streams namely; Complexity in projects and Complex projects. The complexity in projects focuses mainly on projects through the lenses theory of complexity while on the other hand the highlighting of the dimensions of the projects complexity is done by complex projects.

The complexity of projects has increased in an alarming rate in the recent past which has forced the project managers to in the modern world to come up with new knowledge, works models, techniques and tools for managing the complex projects. Nevertheless, there is need to get a clear definition of the complex projects and their characteristics, hence this topic is to identify and discuss properties, environments and causes of complex projects in order to get a clear understanding of what the complex projects are. These ideas can have profound implications in the existing model of project management, bringing the harmonizing method of thinking the phenomena of this field and opening potentials for the use of new knowledge, tools, techniques and practices. Therefore, to sail in the complexity, it is necessary to discover new ways of managing it (Heaslip, 2014, p. 393).

The project complexity has a negative influence upon the process of managing in specifically on the project performance. The absence of consensus on the project complexity is a very serious problem as project complexity is closely related with the process of managing the projects at the same time the performance of the project managers. Hence the understanding of the project complexity and complex projects is of great benefits to address the problem of project performance. Below are some of the definitions of complex projects according to some of the authors

Definition

author

The complexity in projects is the number of different disciplines or departments involved in the project, as well as the complication of the design itself.

Larson & Gobeli (2009)

“Complexity in projects consists of many, varied and interrelated parts and can be operationalized in terms of differentiation and interdependence.”

Baccarini (2016)

Complexity in projects is characterized by the number of elements and their interdependencies, including multiple objectives and multiplicity of stakeholders, as well as the uncertainty of methods and goals

(Kerzner, 2012)

“Complexity in projects is the property of a project that makes it difficult to understand, predict, and to keep its overall behaviour under control, even if there are reasonably complete information about the project system.”

(Hass, 2016)

“Complex design is the one that exhibits a high degree of uncertainty and unpredictability, derived from the project itself and its context.”

(Kerzner, 2012)

Causes of Complex Projects

The causes, environments, and properties of complex projects

The complexity of projects has increased in an alarming rate in the recent past which has forced the project managers to in the modern world to come up with new knowledge, works models, techniques and tools for managing the complex projects. Nevertheless, there is need to get a clear definition of the complex projects and their characteristics, hence this topic is to identify and discuss properties, environments and causes of complex projects in order to get a clear understanding of what the complex projects are (Billows, 2011, p. 73). The above ideas are capable of resulting to adverse implications in the existing model of project management, which brings a harmonizing form of thinking the phenomena related to the field and opening potentials for the use of new knowledge, tools, techniques and practices. Therefore, to sail in the complexity, it is necessary to discover new ways of managing it (Wysocki, 2014, p. 667).

There are many causes that makes a project complex some of them are as discussed below.

The level of details that are involve. There are many details that are involved in the construction of complex projects, there are many variables and interfaces that are experiences during the construction and implementation of the project which are in most cases not experienced in the other normal physical projects (James, 2013, p. 55).

Unpredictability, most of the complex projects are unpredictable in nature in that majority of the stakeholders are not aware of what will happen as the project implementation progress due to that some of the issues that arises are very challenging making it hard to solve thus making the project very complex.

Dynamics; There is very high rate of change on how the complex projects are managed and run, since they take a long period to be completed there are many changes that are expected. Usually there is change in the management and the technology that are used in the management and construction. Mostly project managers find it to be a bit challenging working under the environment where there is very high rate of change on how things are carried out and due to that most of them find the project to be complex (Alderman, 2013, p. 173).

Uncertainty in that the complex projects have inability to pre-evaluate the occurrence in action due to their massive size and the huge team of experts who are involved in the implementation of the project. In the situations where the project managers have inability to evaluate the occurrence of actions it becomes very complex to manage such projects.

Environments of Complex Projects

Social structure. During the execution of the complex projects there is a huge number b of interactions that takes place due to the high number of stakeholders who are involved. For instance, the personnel who are involved in the complex projects might be from different cultures and regions which makes it to be very hard for them to work together in some cases, some of them don’t have a common language to communicate and therefore it becomes a great challenge to manage such projects (Pierre-Jean Charrel, 2017, p. 223).

Environments for complex projects symbolizes a link between the processing of the project and conditioned for how it affects the progress of the project. Such an interaction is provided by numerous factors such as physical, ecological, operational, cultural, economic, social, financial, psychological, and organizational among many others. The environment of the complex projects does not only formulate the projects but also estimates it (Smyth, 2015, p. 296).

Usually the analysis of the project environment is carried out at the begging of the project. This technique identifies the lobbies and at the same time integrates the project stakeholders into the project group. All the impact factors are usually analysed in this analysis i.e.  The stakeholders and their interests, project risks and project chances, measures for the control. The stakeholder type is thus analysed. It differentiates passive and active type. The first group comprises of work council, authorities and all the parties who are affected by the project directly. The second group represents project managers and project team, the customers and principal (Building, 2016, p. 226).

Complex projects have the following properties

The complex projects have a significant external or political influence since most of the projects are termed to be landmarks of the nations where they are being constructed. Due to that most of the political class tends to have a lot of influence on how such projects are managed, since most of the complex projects are used to measure the wealth and might of any given country.

Most of the complex projects usually runs over a long period of time which exceeds the technology which they are constructed with that most of the project and managers and

Contractors usually use different technologies in managing and constructing them.

Most of the complex projects can only be defined by the effect and not by solution

Numerous tasks in that there are many activities that are carried out in the construction of the complex projects. For instance, in the construction sites of the complex projects there are many activities that are carried out at the same time in order to complete the project within the given timeframe (Faulconbridge, 2015, p. 335).

Properties of Complex Projects

In the construction of complex projects there are many interconnected components or elaborately interrelated components in that the complex project is made up of many components that are closely related which makes it very complex for on to manage a project with such many components.

It is a challenging task to manage complex projects as it involves complex responsibilities. Because of that reason, techniques and tools have been developed to help the project managers accomplish and execute their duties within the given timeframe. Some of the devices can be operated manually while others require a software installed to a computer for it to be executed. In most situations, project managers in charge of managing complex projects need to select a project management technique or tool that best suits their management style.

For the past few years companies; typically opted to carry out project effort, assigned all necessary resources and the project to an individual who was carefully selected. Even though the basic concept of managing complex projects are simply applying this concept (Robert, 2016, p. 662)

The process of managing complex projects normally comprises four key stages which include initiation of the project, project planning, execution and closure of the project. Below is the skeleton of the steps and the project management techniques that are used.

The techniques used by the project managers in this phase include;

  1. Determining of the team that will initiate the project. This technique encompasses the organization of team members who will aid in conducting the initiation activities of the project.
  2. Developing a mutual rapport with the customer. A strong bond is initiated when one understands the customers’ organization (Pryke, 2017, p. 511).
  3. Coming up with the project initiation plan. The plan defines the activities that will organize the team while at the same time working to set the objectives and project constraint.
  4. Establishing the management processes. This technique involves developing of a communication team and the reporting processes, job roles and assignments, Change of project procedure and how funding and billing of the project will be carried out.
  5. Determination of the project workbook and the management environment. The technique basically emphases on the collection and the organization of the tools that will be used in managing the project (Remington, 2012, p. 565).

The following are some of the techniques used by the project managers to manage a complex project;

  1. Identifying the project scope and describing the project alternatives and conducting a feasibility test. It involves asking questions like the problems and opportunities the project will create? And also the results of the project and how they can be measured? Also how the project will be known that it is completed?
  2. Differentiation of the project into several tasks. It helps project managers to quickly break down the project and ensure the smooth progress of the project tasks.
  3. Preliminary schedule development. It involves allocating each task-specific time of completion. Helps the manager to quickly estimate the start and end time of the project (Forsberg, 2015, p. 776).
  4. Development of a communication plan which helps clear information and interactions between the managers, the members of the team and the customers.
  5. Determination of the project procedures and standards, whereby the deliverables are tested of how they were achieved.
  6. Risk identification and assessment. Source of the risk is identified, assess the consequence of the risk and how it can be avoided and solved.
  7. Creation of a primary budget that summaries the whole expenses and revenues of the project.
  8. Development of work statement that outlines the expected work against projected outcomes of the project.
  9. The project baseline should be set as it involves the provision of estimated tasks and the required resources (Quigley, 2013, p. 295).

The project management techniques involved in project execution include;

  1. Execution of the baseline plan. Project managers are entrusted with the authority of executing the project activities, acquiring and assigning of the project resources, training and orienting of the new team members of the project, making sure that the project stays on the planned schedule, and ensure the deliverables are of the highest quality.
  2. Comparing the project progress against the project’s baseline plan. It is an effort to ensure that the project continuation is progressing smoothly and according to the set target. It helps in minimizing any problems that may arise. 
  3. The project manager should also be able to manage changes related to the baseline project plan (Hillis, 2017, p. 553).
  4. Workbook of the project plan should be thoroughly maintained because it is the primary source for the production of reports related to the project. Wrong entries may result in inaccurate project reports hence poor results.
  5. Status of the project should be communicated which means the entire plan of the whole project should be shared with the project team members and any revised and changed plans should be communicated to the whole team and all interested parties. Effective communication helps to minimize minor errors by the team members who might delay the completion of the project and ensures the smooth progress of the project.

The following are project management techniques involved in the close down of the Project.

  1. Close down of the Project. All the interested parties are eligible to be notified of the completion status of the project. All the documents and records related to the project should be completed to enable the review of the project to be conducted.
  2. Conduction of post-project reviews. It helps to identify and define the weakness and strengths associated with the deliverables of the project and procedures of how they were created. Lastly, it helps to define the project management processes and how they were evaluated. (Pollack, 2015, p. 56)
  3. Closure of the customer contract. It is the final act of the project which ensures that all contracts related to the project were correctly entered and finalized in the required manner. It helps to avoid court cases and complains after the project has been completed.

The degree and nature of the projects cases

The project was constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries which is a company based in South Korea. Its main purpose was to identify and extract oil from the earth’s natural oil reservoirs (Williams, 2015, p. 66). It is 9 years old semi-submersible, floating, mobile dynamically-positioned drilling rig that could operate in water up to 10,000 feet deep. The rig was charted to the British petroleum from 2008 to 2013.

Reasons why the project failed

There are three main factors that have been attributed to the failure of the project.

Poor safety and testing measures

Equipment failures

A risk management plan that is poor.

In the long run, the explosion was instigated by a well honesty failure that was followed by a loss of the pressure fluid in the well. Normally, specific expedients are used to halt this occurrence. Failure of the devices resulted in the fiery explosion on the rig. Equipment failure was as a result of poor safety testing measures. The project was short of the required structure to safely convey the project.

Management of Complex Projects

Reasons for being a complex project.

The Deepwater Horizon was a project letdown of enormous magnitudes. It turned from an oil survey project to a huge program having many projects which included preventing further leakage of oil, cleaning the environment, dealing with the public, responding to human wants, dealing with the employees and shareholders (Pryke, 2017, p. 520).

With the failure of the project the mission and scope of the project changed greatly within a short period of timidity budget changed from $500 million to over $100 billion program with global reach and other projects. Also the incapacity of the project to stop the flow in a well-timed mode, the message difficulties by the project management and the long long-lasting undesirable media reporting.

Change of project from a single oil exploration project to a huge program having many projects qualifies this to be a very complex project in that it involved many projects within one main project. Complex projects are characterized by having many projects such as for this project (Quigley, 2013, p. 763).

The project had a lot political interference. When the oil spilling occurred there was negative coverage by the media due to the impact on which the project had on the political classes of the given nations as most of the authorities tried to run away from the realities.

The project had many interconnected components or elaborately interrelated components in that the complex project is made up of many components that are closely related which makes it very complex for on to manage a project with such many components.

The project was only defined by the effect and not by solution in that the project was much concentrated on the effect it caused and not how they were solved. There were many activities that were carried out in the construction of this complex projects. For instance, in the construction sites of the complex projects there are many activities that are carried out at the same time (Remington, 2012, p. 67).

The Channel Tunnel is a 50.45 kilometres rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent, in the United Kingdom, with Coquilles, Pas-declaim, near Calais in northern France. At its lowermost point it is 75m deep below the sea bed and 115m above the sea level. This tunnel transmits high-speed Eurostar trains and the international cargo tunnels. This tunnel connects the LGV Nord and High speed 1 high-speed railway line. The concept of this project was a single-track rail tunnel having service tunnels, but without the shuttle terminals.

Techniques and Tools for Managing Complex Projects

The British channel group was made up of two banks and five construction companies at the other hand the French counterparts which was made up of five construction companies and three banks. The character of the banks in this project was to give advice regarding to the financial decisions and at the same time secure loan commitments (Quigley, 2013, p. 665).

The design and construction of this project was carried out by 120 construction companies. The French terminals and the boring from sangatte was carried out by five French construction companies. The British terminal and boring from Shakespeare Cliff was carried out by five English construction companies. The two partnership were linked by the Transmanche Link, which was a bi-national project organisation.

Theories and ideas specific to complex project management.

Strengthened project framework and foundation

The existing theory of project management does not adequately address the unique characteristics of complex projects. In the current theory the fundamentals of this complex projects are not well founded and some frameworks processes are either absent or are not adequately addressed. The reinforced project foundation must encompass.

  1. A structured and heighted focus on the owner readiness, not just the project readiness. In this situation three aspects must be addressed.
  2. Client’s framework process for the purpose of decision making due to that all the approvals must be streamlined and strengthened.
  3. Strategic business outcome must be clearly articulated, agreed to and regularly articulated.

Project readiness must be enhanced along the lines of traditional readiness elements but also expanded to ensure alignment and application big analytical from the planning stage.

For better managing of the complex projects the project basement must include a flexible basis of the design which encompasses all the traditional basis of design regarding meeting the client’s requirements.

Project delivery greatly focuses on decomposing a single project into a number of interrelated tasks and then managing the activities within each given task. The activities are then reflected on the network diagrams and schedules (Williams, 2015, p. 62). The management of complex projects must focus on the flow managements by.

Putting a lot of focus on the interface and the management which include the identification of the underlying constraints that may couple or desperate the entire project.

Greater application of the ‘last planner’ method and the enhanced workforce planning from the knowledge-based workforce.

Recognition that the previously developed   interface requirement many change as the underlying assumption and the condition migrate over time (Robert, 2016, p. 773).

The complex projects that are largely unbounded are subjected to the debilitating impacts of the stakeholders-delivered influencing the flows that sweeps across a project’s semi-permeable boundary, affecting its different transformational flows and the project tasks. In any complex project greater project transparency is very important if this engagement is to be successful.

Case Studies

In the recent past the construction industry in generally has reluctant to encourage the use of technology, but currently the situation is changing for the good. The application of technology in the construction industry is growing at a very high rate and the correct use of the appropriate technology can Assist in delivering successful projects.

Modern technologies such as drones, autonomous plant, mobile applications and the 3d printing has greatly helped to enhance the efficiency of the onsite operations (Hillis, 2017, p. 52).

Conclusion

In conclusion, in most cases complex projects are viewed as complex due to their team size, budget, stakeholder engagements, strategic viewpoint and the impact of the dedicated teams doing projects based work that may span from one to five years with extensions. Usually managing complex projects presents a series of challenges greater than those experience in the typical project management.

The idea of complexity in managing complex construction projects have been established in two streams namely; Complexity in projects and Complex projects. The complexity in projects focuses mainly on projects through the complexity theory of the lenses whilst complex projects aim at highlighting the dimensions involved in complexity projects.

The complex projects have a significant external or political influence since most of the projects are termed to be landmarks of the nations where they are being constructed. Due to that most of the political class tends to have a lot of influence on how such projects are managed, since most of the complex projects are used to measure the wealth and might of any given country.

The techniques used by project managers to manage complex projects during initiation include; determining the project initiation team. This technique involves organizing team members to aid in conducting the project initiation activities. Developing a mutual relationship with the customer. By understanding the customers’ organization will foster a stronger bond. Coming up with the project initiation plan. The plan defines the activities that are required to organize the team while working to set the goals and project scope. Establishing the management procedures. This technique involves the developing of communication team and the reporting processes, job roles and assignments, project change procedure and how the project funding and billing will be carried out. Determine the project management environment and the workbook. This technique focuses on the collection and the organization of the tools that will be used in managing the project (Building, 2016, p. 633).

Conclusion

Techniques used by project manages during planning of complex projects include: Identifying the project scope and describing the project alternatives and conducting a feasibility test. It involves asking questions like the problems and opportunities the project will create? And also the results of the project and how they can be measured? Also how the project will be known that it is completed?

Differentiation of the project into several tasks. It helps project managers to quickly break down the project and ensure the smooth progress of the project tasks.

Preliminary schedule development. It involves allocating each task-specific time of completion. Helps the manager to quickly estimate the start and end time of the project.

Development of a communication plan which helps clear information and interactions between the managers, the members of the team and the customers.

Determination of the project procedures and standards, whereby the deliverables are tested of how they were achieved. Risk identification and assessment. Source of the risk is identified, assess the consequence of the risk and how it can be avoided and solved. Creation of a introductory budget that sketches the revenues and expenses and revenues. Development of work statement that outlines the expected work against the projected outcomes. The project’s baseline should be set as it involves the provision of estimated tasks and the required resources (Billows, 2011, p. 568).

References

Alderman, N., 2013. Managing Complex Projects: Networks, Knowledge and Integration. 4th ed. Chicago: Routledge.

Billows, D., 2011. Managing Complex Projects. 1st ed. Sydney: Dick Billows.

Building, T. C. I. o., 2016. Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects. 3rd ed. Chicago: John Wiley & Sons.

Faulconbridge, I., 2015. Managing Complex Technical Projects: A Systems Engineering Approach. 3rd ed. chicago: Artech House.

Forsberg, K., 2015. Visualizing Project Management: Models and Frameworks for Mastering Complex Systems. 4th ed. Sydney: John Wiley & Sons.

Hass, K. B., 2016. Managing Complex Projects: A New Model. 3rd ed. London: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Heaslip, R. J., 2014. Managing Complex Projects and Programs: How to Improve Leadership of Complex Initiatives Using a Third-Generation Approach. 6th ed. Perth: John Wiley & Sons,.

Hillis, W. S., 2017. Managing and Modelling Complex Projects. 3rd ed. Chicago: Springer Science & Business Media.

James, W., 2013. Managing and Modelling Complex Projects. 4th ed. London: Springer.

Kerzner, H., 2012. Managing Complex Projects. 4th ed. Chicago: John Wiley & Sons.

Pierre-Jean Charrel, 2017. Project Management and Risk Management in Complex Projects: Studies in Organizational Semiotics. 7th ed. London: Springer Science & Business Media.

Pollack, J., 2015. Tools for Complex Projects. 4th ed. Chicago: CRC Press,.

Pryke, S., 2017. Managing Networks in Project-Based Organisations. 3rd ed. Paris: John Wiley & Sons.

Quigley, J. M., 2013. Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems: Ensuring Product Integrity and Program Quality. 4th ed. London: CRC Press.

Remington, D. K., 2012. Leading Complex Projects. 1st ed. Berlin: Gower Publishing, Ltd..

Robert, M., 2016. Executive's Guide to Project Management: Organizational Processes and Practices for Supporting Complex Projects. 1st ed. Chicago: John Wiley & Sons.

Smyth, H., 2015. The Management of Complex Projects: A Relationship Approach. 2nd ed. London: John Wiley & Sons.

Williams, T., 2015. Managing and Modelling Complex Projects. 3rd ed. London: Springer.

Wysocki, R., 2014. Effective Complex Project Management: An Adaptive Agile Framework for Delivering Business Value. 3rd ed. Texas: Ross Publishing.

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