Adapted from a paper originally presented to an International Project/Program Management Workshop ESC Lille - Lille Graduate School of Management, Lille, France, © 2005.

Introduction | Different Strokes for Different Folks
Ad Hoc versus Systematic Project Categorization
Proposed Matrix for Systematic Categorization of Projects | PART 2

Ad Hoc versus Systematic Project Categorization

One approach to continued development of the discipline of PM is simply to allow this ad hoc segmentation or categorization to continue as it has for the past several decades. Some will argue that this actually has been going on since the inception of the age of modern project management in the 1960s. This ad hoc approach will no doubt continue to produce some beneficial results, but these results can be predicted to be somewhat uneven, perhaps wasteful of duplicate effort, and certainly un-systematic.

A systematic approach to this question is believed to be more desirable, since this will accelerate the progress and related improvements in the PM discipline, avoid duplicate efforts, and help to assure that all pertinent factors have been considered.

Research to date (see Crawford et al 2002, 2004, 2005 and others; see Figure 2) shows that there are many characteristics and attributes of projects that can be used, and in fact are being used, to categorize and/or classify projects. There are also many purposes and uses of the various categorizations. Crawford et al also make the point that it is not practical to categorize projects without considering the purpose of such categorization. A systematic approach to this problem requires that the purposes and the methods of project categorization/classification be interrelated.

Application area or product

Stage of life-cycle

Grouped or single

Strategic importance

Strategic driver











Figure 2: Attributes of projects used in various classification systems.
Source: Crawford et al 2002, 2004

Crawford et al (2004) list these common and specific uses and needs:

Common uses/needs
  • A language for naming and discussing
  • Facilitating communication
  • Storage and retrieval of knowledge
Specific uses/needs
  • Research
  • Ontological definition
  • Comparability
  • Building on previous results
  • Professional organizations
  • Development of BoKs
  • Internal organization (SIG structure)
  • Market positioning
  • Practitioner organizations?
Different Strokes for Different Folks  Different Strokes for Different Folks

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