Complex project management:
Complex project management is defined as the process of managing complex project. Notably, a project becomes complex or complexity occurs in the project when it reveals the following effects:
- It becomes extremely uncertain which implies that many disruption or changes are likely to occur in the project.
- It becomes very complicated which means that there are lots of interconnections and lots of parts in the project
- It becomes tremendously time-constrained such that there is no time to seemingly re-plan.
Complexity in project management starts when there occurs ambiguity in the project. Ambiguity is about dealing with unclear situations such as one does not know what to expect or how to deal with the situations (Ahern, Leavy & Byrne, 2014).
Causes of complexity:
The following are the causes of complexity.
- No awareness of causality and events;
- Inability or uncertainty to pre-evaluate actions;
- Unpredictability or the inability to know what will happen;
- Rapid rate of change;
- Social structure including several numbers and types of interactions;
- Existence of several interconnections and several interdependencies;
- Setting of unachievable project objectives by stakeholders;
- Disagreement between stakeholders regarding project results and benefits;
- Misunderstandings between influential key stakeholders (Peters & Elkind, 2015).
Human behaviour and complexity:
Human behaviour is a potential source of complexity in projects and it is decisive in the disentangling of complex projects. Delusion and deception are the two particular kinds of human behaviour that causes complexity in projects as such behaviour result in over budget and over time repeatedly (D'Agostino & Scala, 2014). Project managers that lead complex projects may have the following implications:
- In risk management, the psychological aspect along with all qualitative and quantitative assessment needs to be considered.
- If the frame of reference approach of viewing risk primarily influence someone’s risk-taking eagerness, then that frame can also influence other aspects of that person’s behaviour.
- If the managers of complex projects incorporate their emotion in decision-making processes then emotional intelligence can be considered as an important factor to managers (Cooke-Davies, 2011).
Controlling chaos – Values and challenges of applying complexity theory:
Complexity theory deals with complexity and complex system and determine the complexity of any well-defined task. Complexity theory is a mixture of ideas the try to explain the phenomena that is unexplainable by traditional theories. One facet of complexity theory that cannot be accepted is the implication that organization can be unmanageable and chaotic and this raises problem in the prediction of outcome. States varying from comparative order to chaos or complete disorder where system ignore control or prediction are described by the complexity theory (Hemaspaandra & Ogihara, 2013).
Systems thinking and the systems movement:
Systems thinking is referred as a management practice that deals with understanding of a system through verification of the interactions and linkages between the components that include the completeness of that defined system. Systems thinking is an integrated approach to analyse how a system’s constituent part is interrelated and how such system works within larger context of system. As per systems thinking, system behaviour results from the effect of balancing and strengthening processes. By applying the system thinking’s approach of computer simulation and using diagrams the system behaviour is modelled, illustrated and predicted (Nguyen & Bosch, 2013).
Systems movement is referred as multifaceted and through studies of both the natural and artificial systems. Systems movement is essential in order to understand the project management, complexity and the relationship between them (Ho, 2014).
Systems engineering and project management:
Systems engineering is a multi-disciplinary approach of engineering and engineering management that deals with the designing and management of the complexities and complex systems throughout their life cycles. Systems engineering account for the project risks’ technical aspects. Systems engineering manage complexity by using tools such as modelling, simulation, requirements analysis and scheduling. Unlike a manufacturing process, systems engineering process is a discovery process which starts with the discovery of actual problems that required to be resolved and identification of the most plausible or highest encounter failures that can occur and systems engineering aims to find solutions to these problems (Girault & Valk, 2013).
Project management is the process of planning and coordinating the work activities that are required to deliver an acceptable service or product. A project is referred as any activity that produces a particular result or output (Larson et al., 2014).
From the above discussion, it draws conclusion managing a complex project is a higher order management activity and must be handled accordingly. The discussion also shows how complexity theory provides a useful vision that can be used to study challenging projects. Further the discussion also point out that how systems thinking, systems movement and systems engineering helps to understand and resolve the complexity in project management.
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Cooke-Davies, T. (2011, August). Aspects of complexity: Managing projects in a complex world. Project Management Institute. Serrador, P., & Turner, R. (2015). The relationship between project success and project efficiency. Project Management Journal, 46(1), 30-39.
D'Agostino, G., & Scala, A. (Eds.). (2014). Networks of networks: the last frontier of complexity (Vol. 340). Berlin: Springer.
Girault, C., & Valk, R. (2013). Petri nets for systems engineering: a guide to modeling, verification, and applications. Springer Science & Business Media.
Hemaspaandra, L. A., & Ogihara, M. (2013). The complexity theory companion. Springer Science & Business Media.
Ho, J. K. K. (2014). Mapping and explaining the Multi-perspective, Systems-based Research sub-Systems Movement. European Academic Research, 2(9), 11880-11900.
Larson, E. W., Gray, C. F., Danlin, U., Honig, B., & Bacarini, D. (2014). Project management: The managerial process (Vol. 6). Grandview Heights, OH: McGraw-Hill Education.
Nguyen, N. C., & Bosch, O. J. (2013). A systems thinking approach to identify leverage points for sustainability: a case study in the Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 30(2), 104-115.
Peters, D., & Elkind, E. (2015, July). Simple Causes of Complexity in Hedonic Games. In IJCAI (Vol. 15, pp. 617-623).