Copyright: Joe Marasco © 2015.
Published here October 2015.

Editor's Note | Introduction | Definition of "Success" | The Team
Interaction between Project Class, Process Effectiveness and Team Strength
Commentary on the Nomogram | Conclusion | Editor's Postscript


Which is more important to the success of a project, the strength of the team (the people) or the effectiveness of the process they use (the process)? It depends. Projects come in many flavors, and one size does not fit all. Consider the wide variety of projects shown in Figure 1.




Illustrative Examples from Various Domains





Highly Creative

New discovery or invention, with little dependence on standards and procedures

Design and build a mega-skyscraper like Shanghai's Xtopia

Implement a new accounting system for a type of business that has never existed before

Architect and code a state-of-the-art operating system for a new hardware architecture


Moderately Creative

Uses previously proven work with significant additions or modifications

Design and build a 10-story office building with a few special features

Customize an existing accounting system for the special needs of a business

Architect and build a suite of applications to serve a line of business



Uses standard elements with room for personalization

Design and build a private residence on a tight budget

Install a standard accounting system and set up the chart of accounts

Build an application to fit into a line-of-business suite


Moderately Structured

Uses standard elements with minor variation allowed

Complete a kitchen remodel, where the electricity and plumbing outlets are fixed

Enter transactions into an existing accounting system; some judgment required

Build a simple application using standard components


Highly Structured

Mostly execution, only small cosmetic variation permitted

Doghouse: Choose a set of plans and build it

Most bookkeeping tasks

Modify an existing application

Figure 1: Five classes of Projects

Before we can discuss the tradeoffs between people and process, we must first choose the class of project. And even before that, we must define that slipperiest of terms, "success". Project success is easy to determine at the extremes, and much harder to evaluate near the middle, especially because the margin of victory is often very thin.

Editor's Note  Editor's Note

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