Published here August 2012

Introduction to the Books | About the Authors and Their Books
Book 1 - What Executives Need to Know about Project Management
Book 2 - What Functional Managers Need to Know about Project Management
Book 3 - Value-Driven Project Management
Book 4 - Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked in "Framework" / in "Integration"
Downside in "Communications" | Summary

What We Liked - in "Integration"

The contents of this chapter are very different from the contents of Chapter 4 - Project Management Integration in the PMBoK Guide. Whereas, the Guide describes the inputs and outputs of six processes, the authors describe thirty-one differences in approach to the management of "complex" projects to which project managers may have to adapt. In the comparison that follows, we have arbitrarily chosen to paraphrase as examples those observations that we think are the most pervasive.

Managing Traditional Projects

Managing Non-Traditional Projects

Project sponsorship is most likely a single individual from the funding organization and may or may not be at an executive level.

Project sponsorship most likely replaced by complex governance and fragmented throughout the main stakeholders, including executive management and even senior government officials.[13]

The project's business case is prepared by the user and project manager and reviewed by the project management office (PMO) for alignment with corporate objectives.

Business case development may be far more complex due to the multitude of stakeholders and their diversity of interests. Neither the project manager nor even the PMO may be involved at this stage. As a result the quality of the business case may be poorer and subject to change as the project unfolds over a prolonged period. Hence the need for a regular review of the business case.[14]

Once justified by valid objectives and approved, projects continue on unless serious issues emerge that mandates that the project be canceled.

Projects exist just for the duration of the funding cycle, typically yearly. It may then have to be re justified with new funding, especially if the stakeholders and their politics change, or market conditions change the expected benefits.[15]

The Project Charter represents the project manager's authority in decision-making as handed down by the project's sponsor. Hence, the project sponsor and the project manager control the decisions.

The project manager may have limited authority in decision-making. The greater the number of stakeholders, the more likely that consensus decision-making will be necessary, and the more localized the project manager's authority.[16]

The company may have a template for the Project Charter. It is signed by the project's sponsor and there is agreement on its contents

The authority needed for managing the project could be diluted over several project managers. The stakeholders of each may seek control over their group's project manager, and there may be separate project charters with no agreement amongst the respective charter contents. The result is that the distribution of project authority may be very unbalanced.[17]

Project governance is well understood and remains the same throughout the project.

The stakeholders will change. Politics and policies will change. Support will decline if the project runs into obstacles. An analysis of the stakeholders will not be stable. Hence, the project governance[18] is likely to change, creating obstacles to decision-making and achieving objectives.[19]

Focus is on project controls and balancing the constraints of performance, schedule and cost.

Focus is on excellence in leadership, motivation, and communication with a large number of internal and external stakeholders.[20]

The project manager and team leads prepare the project management plan covering all work packages, essentially for the entire project.

Because of the complex agreements involved, development of a single project management plan, together with associated sub function plans, may be impossible. Therefore, global targets may be contemplated but detailed planning takes the form of progressive or "rolling wave"[21] planning, work package by work package.[22]

Project approvals are relatively fast and do not compromise the schedule

There may be little sense of urgency amongst the stakeholders, even a desire to delay. Since decision-making may also be dispersed through the range of stakeholders, approvals may take an extended length of time that compromises the schedule and gives rise to serious financial claims.[23]

Decision-making techniques such as facilitated workshops, group creativity techniques, search for alternatives are all possible and can be conducted in a timely fashion.

Making decisions promptly may not be possible because of the number of stakeholders that wish to be involved, their individual lack of relevant information, and their differing perspectives. Therefore it may be necessary to single out the key or most influential stakeholders, in limited number, and work with them.[24]

Excessive optimism can exist but is quickly corrected because the length of the project is relatively short

Excessive optimism can lead to significant cost overruns because it engenders the withholding, even concealment of adverse information due to a desire to see the project continue and thus avoid criticism. On the other hand, this optimism is sometimes necessary to see the project through.[25]

This chapter highlights the many challenges that face complex projects. While it may offer few obvious solutions, just to be aware of the problems makes a valuable contribution to the knowledge base where complex projects are concerned.

What We Liked - in 'Framework'  What We Liked - in "Framework"

13. Ibid, pp80-81
14. Ibid, pp94-95
15. Ibid, pp116-117
16. Ibid, pp106-107
17. Ibid, pp104-105
18. "Project governance" here implies how the project is controlled through its life span, e.g. the number and timing of "stage gates".
19. Ibid, pp96-97
20. Ibid, pp78-79
21. Rolling Wave Planning: Cost and schedule planning where details are developed for the near term and general allocations are made for the out periods. [Comparative Glossary D04227] The "wave" of detail typically covers six weeks or three months.
22. Managing Complex Projects pp122-123
23. Ibid, pp124-125
24. Ibid, pp82-83
25. Ibid, pp112-113
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