Early in the project planningstages, the project leadership team should analyse the factors of complexity ineach of the dimensions. This section discusses the development of 5DPMcomplexity maps, which help project teams to understand and define thedimensions of their project complexity and in resource allocation and toolselection. The team scores each dimension of complexity on a scale from 0 to100. Figure 4.1.
Scale for scoring projectcomplexity by dimensionNote it is much lessimportant for the team to agree on absolute scores than on relative scores. Inother words, the relative order of the scores (from 0 to 100) should match therank order of dimensions from least- to most-constrained. Once this isachieved, project complexity can be mapped.The project dimension thatrepresents the highest combination of complexity and constraint most likelypresents the greatest challenges on the project and therefore requires the mostmanagement attention. In addition, because complexity is created frequently bythe interaction between dimensional factors, creativity and innovation in theleast-complex/least-constrained dimensions can be used to minimize the impactof the most-constrained and most-complex dimensions. To map project complexity,create a spreadsheet with two columns as shown in Figure 4.
2. Figure 4.2.
Complexity mapping spreadsheettemplate The first columnin the spreadsheet contains the names of each of the five complexity dimensionsand the second column contains the complexity score for each of the dimensions (0to 100) for the project. The scores for each dimension are then charted, usingthe Radar Chart feature in Excel, for example as shown in Figure 4.3. Figure 4.
3. Example of resulting radar complexitymap for the five dimensions The resulting pentagonprovides a visual depiction of both the overall complexity of the project andthe specific nature of the complexity. This Guidebook shows how complexprojects need to be managed from concept through execution. The dynamicinteraction of the dimensions, methods, and tools can cause changes in thecomplexity map. Managing complexity never stops during the project and requirescontinual monitoring and iterations 4.2Iterative Project Mapping Project complexity is activerather than static and the relative complexity of each dimension changes as theproject matures.
Once a given element of complexity is handled effectively, thecomplex project manager needs to shift attention and resources to the nextcritical factor of complexity. Therefore, the mapping process needs to berevisited periodically during the project as a tool for refocusing the projectteam toward the factors most in need of resourcing to continue progress towardachieving project objectives.The complexity map can beused as a visual project-control metric. Because of the dynamic nature ofproject complexity, the area of the resulting pentagon can be used as a meansto measure current project complexity. In theory, as the project progressestoward successful completion, complexity eventually shrinks/is reduced.Fig 4.4 shows how a hypothetical complexproject’s complexity map changes over time.
The initial map was created at theproject concept stage and shows that Financing is the most complex dimensionfollowed by Context and Schedule. Figure 4.4. Sample project complexity map changesover timeThe 2nd complexity map ismade at project authorization. It shows that, in the intervening period, theproject team had successfully addressed the Financing Dimension, making Contextthe most complex dimension.
The 3rd map illustrates thecomplexity at the point where design and construction can begin. By this time,most of the Context factors had been dealt with, leaving Technical and Scheduleas the remaining dimensions that must be resourced to achieve a successfulproject. Note that the area of the resultant pentagon was reduced by roughlyhalf due to the endeavours of the project team to address complexity in theprevious phases.One final pointdeals with the changing composition of the project team. While the projectmanager and other key individuals should remain with the project throughout itslifecycle, the next layer of personnel will probably change as the projectmoves from planning to design to construction.Each disciplinehas its own unique view of project complexity that is a function of theirexpertise and ability to understand other disciplines’ roles in the project.
Therefore, as the project complexity map is revised over time, it remainsimportant for project team leaders to consistently score current complexity ineach dimension based on input from the other team members who are engageddecisively in the current project requirements. Table 4.1 shows the project team’s complexityscores at each stage of the project.
Complexity Complexity Complexity Dimension Score #1 Score #2 Score #3 Technical 70 70 65 Cost 50 50 50 Financing 90 50 50 Context 85 85 55 Schedule 80 80 70 Total Area 13,434 10,485 7,894 Table 4.1. Progressive complexity scores for sampleproject Revaluation ofthe mapping of the project as it develops is important. New or differentfactors will have more impact as the project develops.
Finally,complexity maps can be compared across projects to identify the nature ofcomplexity and make appropriate resource allocations as discussed in the nextsubsection. 4.3 Allocating Resources to Complex Projects Project complexity maps are useful (and powerful)tools for organizational leaders in assigning internal team members, developingeffective procurement plans, advocating for project needs to state legislatorsand policy makers, and allocating financial resources in the most effectivemanner.
Fundamentally, complexity maps elevate the visibility of the mostcritical dimensions at the earliest opportunity, so the project manager canidentify and resource possible complexity solutions.The primary objective is to do as much earlyplanning as required, rather than waiting for a particular phase of projectdevelopment to identify and resolve issues. Another angle on early resource allocation, basedon complexity mapping, occurs when an agency has more than one complex projectto deliver. By mapping each project’s complexity, the program manager candirectly compare one project to another and develop project teams based onassigning the most-experienced personnel to a project, where the highest degreeof complexity occurs in a dimension that lines up with their expertise. This report’sfoundational research clearly demonstrates that complex project success is tieddirectly to timely allocation of required resources to service the mostcritical dimensions of complexity.