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

PART 1 | Project Categorization Methods | Multi-dimensional Classification of Projects 
Classifying Projects within Categories and Sub-Categories | Conclusions

Classifying Projects within Categories and Sub-Categories

There is usually a wide range of projects within each project category or sub-category in large organizations. The project management process for each project category must provide the flexibility to choose the proper level of planning and control for large, complex, high-risk, 'new territory' projects compared to smaller or 'old hat' projects. It is probably desirable for purposes of the proposed system to further classify projects within categories or sub-categories using some of the attributes identified by Crawford et al (2004) cited earlier, or using some of the following classifying characteristics:

Project Size: Major and Minor Projects Within a Category

It is useful to identify at least two classes of projects within each category. For purposes of discussion here we will call these major and minor projects, although each organization can probably define more descriptive names. The distinction between these major and minor classes will be noted in the following definitions:

Major Projects are those whose large size, great complexity and/or high risk require:

  • Designation of an executive Project Sponsor.
  • Assignment of a full-time Project (or Program) Manager;
  • The full application of the project management process specified for the particular project category for major projects (all specified forms, approvals, plans, schedules, budgets, controls, reports, frequent project review meetings, with substantial levels of detail in each.)

Minor Projects are those whose size, simplicity and low risk allow:

  • One project manager to manage two or more minor projects simultaneously;
  • Less than the full application of the complete project management process for the project category (selected basic forms, approvals, plans, schedules, budgets, controls, reports, less frequent project review meetings, with less detail required in each.)
  • No formal assignment of an executive Project Sponsor; sponsor role retained within the line organization.

Project Complexity

The complexity of a project is indicated by the:

  • Diversity inherent in the project objectives and scope
  • Number of different internal and external organizations involved, which is usually an indication of the number of required specialized skills
  • Sources of technology; and/or
  • Sources of funding

The customer

  • External or Internal Customer
  • Degree of Customer Involvement in the Project

Levels of risk in projects

  • "Mega" Projects or Programs
  • "Stand-Alone" Versus "Create Supporting Infrastructure" Projects
  • "Standard" Versus "Transitional" Projects
  • And so on

The result of placing projects within the appropriate category (or sub-category) and then classifying them using one or more other attributes will produce an
n-dimensional matrix. For practical purposes this will probably most often be displayed in 2 or 3 dimensions. Source: Archibald 2004, p 7-9.

Multi-dimensional Classification of Projects  Multi-dimensional Classification of Projects

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