Developing a Project Typology
Now that we have a feel for the full breadth and depth of project management,
the burning question is 'How is all this related to the real world of projects?'
Given a particular project to undertake, how can we decide what is important
and what is not? What priorities should we pursue? What organizational structure
will be most appropriate? What management style to adopt? And so on.
Since projects are essentially unique undertakings, and their range in objectives,
size, complexity and technology are almost limitless, it would clearly be beneficial
if projects could be brought within some manageable classification framework.
In this respect we are most fortunate.
Intensive study has been conducted over the last four years on a collection
of more than 120 projects for which detailed management data was available. Subsets
of these have been used for more detailed examination with a view to establishing
a project classification system. Up to 100 parameters have been examined for
relevance and suitability. The recommendations are both enlightening and simple.,,,
As a result of this research, a two dimensional project typology consisting
of Project Management Scope versus Technological Uncertainty has been proposed.
Within this typology, the primary considerations which emerged from the research
can be separated into three groupings. There are those that are associated with
an increase in Program/Project Management Scope, or complexity, and there are
those that are associated with increasing Technological Uncertainty, according
to the technology content. When projects progress along both dimensions simultaneously,
a third set of considerations emerge. These are shown in Figure
2: Project Management Trends: along Scope and Uncertainty Dimensions.
Figure 2: Project Management Trends along Scope and Uncertainty Dimensions
For practical purposes, the two continuous scales have been reduced to three
levels of complexity and four levels of Technology Content. This matrix is shown
in Figure 3: Proposed Project Classification
A. J., From Low- to High-tech Project Management, R&D Management 23, 3, 1993,
Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK, pp 199-214.
5. Shenhar, A. J., Contingent Project Management: A Classical Concept in a New Arena, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1994 (Working paper)
6. Shenhar, A. J., Some Projects are More Equal: Toward a Typology of Project Management Styles, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1995 (Working
7. Shenhar, A. J., & Dov Dvir, Managing Technology Projects: A Contingent Exploratory Approach, Proceedings 28th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 1995, pp 494-503.