The Nature of Projects Generally
Projects are not only unique undertakings but their range in objectives, size,
complexity and technology (areas of project management application) are almost
limitless. To aid in sponsorship planning and decision-making, it would clearly
be helpful if projects could be categorized into some meaningful and practical
To this end, Shenhar et al conducted a series of studies over the period 1993-1998
based on a collection of more than 120 projects for which detailed management
data was available.
The authors found that as technological uncertainty increases so does the need
for increased technical management and that as complexity increases so does the
need for higher and more formal project management. However, as both increase
there is a third dimension in which there must be much higher levels of process
and component integration and testing as shown diagrammatically in Figure
Figure 2: Uncertainty versus Complexity
Subsets of these projects were then examined more closely for parameters that
might be relevant and suitable. Up to 100 parameters were identified, but for
practical purposes a simple but enlightening classification system emerged. Based
on their findings, the authors proposed a two dimensional project typology consisting
of Project Management Scope versus Technological Uncertainty.
Again, for practical purposes, the two continuous scales have been reduced
to four levels of Technological Content and three levels of Program/Project Management
Scope. This matrix is shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Project Classification
The descriptors along each dimension of Figure 3 are briefly
described in the next section. Fuller descriptions are provided in an earlier
paper in this series.
Shenhar, A.J. , From Low- to High-Tech Project Management, R&D Management
23, 3, 1993, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK, pp. 199-214.
6. A.J. Shenhar and D. Dvir: "Toward a Typological Theory
of Project Management."śResearch Policy, Vol.25, pp.607-632, 1996.
7. A.J. Shenhar: "From Theory to Practice: Toward A Typology
of Project Management Styles." IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management,
41,1, pp.33-48, 1998.
8. D. Dvir, S. Lipovetsky, A.J. Shenhar, and A. Tishler: "In
Search of Project Classification: A Non-Universal Approach to Project Success
Factors." Research Policy, Vol.27, pp.915-935, 1998.
9. Shenhar, A.J., & R. M. Wideman, Improving PM: Linking Success
Criteria to Project Type, Proceedings Project Management '96 Symposium, Calgary,
AB, May 1996, pp.71-76.