Project Classification System Description
The proposed Project Classification System is shown diagrammatically
in Figure 2. Understanding the labels along
each dimension of this figure is important.
Figure 2: 4x3 Classification Matrix
The three levels of complexity are as follows.
Level 1 - Assembly. This represents a project consisting
of a collection of components and modules combined into a single
unit. A typical assembly may perform a well defined function within
a larger system, thus constituting one of its subsystems. Alternatively,
it can be an independent self-contained product that performs a
single function of a limited scale. A computer's central processing
unit, its display screen, or its printer are three separate examples
of the former, while radios, washing machines or a single family
home are examples of the latter.
Level 2 - System. This represents a project consisting of
a complex collection of interactive elements and subsystems within
a single product, jointly performing a wide range of independent
functions to meet a specific operational mission or need. Examples
include radar, computer work stations, any form of transportation
vehicle, or multiple-use high-rise buildings.
Level 3 - Array. This represents a program, rather than
a single project, where program is taken to mean a series of related
projects designed to accomplish broad goals and to which the individual
projects contribute. Often, arrays are dispersed over wide geographical
areas, or over an extended period of time, and consist of a variety
of project systems. Examples include any of a city's infrastructure,
inter-airport airside control, or any of the national defense systems.
The four levels of Technological Uncertainty depend on the technology
content of the project. The respective project types are as follows.
Type A - Established Technology. These projects rely on
existing and well established base technologies to which all industry
players have equal access. Although such projects may well be very
large in scale, no new technology is employed at any stage. The
majority of projects in the construction and road building industries
fall into this category.
Type B - Mostly Established Technology. Often referred to
as Medium-Tech, these projects are similar to Type A, but involve
some new technology or feature. While the majority of the work has
relatively low uncertainty, the new feature provides market advantage
but also a higher degree of uncertainty. Examples include many industrial
projects of incremental innovation, as well as improvements and
modifications to existing products.
Type C - Advanced Technology. Often referred to as High-Tech
projects, these are projects in which most of the technologies are
employed together for the first time. However, the individual technologies
already exist, having been developed prior to project initiation.
Defense industry projects typically fall into this category.
Type D - Highly Advanced Technology. Such projects require
exploratory development and may be referred to as Super High-Tech.
They call for the incorporation of technologies which are not entirely
existing, are emerging, or the solutions may even be unknown at
the time of project initiation. Project execution therefore involves
technology development, testing and selection from among alternatives.
Research and development projects fall into this category.
From Figure 2 it will be noted that a number
of variables may be associated with each dimension. Interestingly,
when progressing along both dimensions simultaneously (i.e. diagonally)
a third set of variables emerges, as is also shown in the figure.