Tag Archives: complex projects

Stakeholders in complexity

The new CPM is ‘Complex Project Management’ and whilst most of the current project management tools and practices including risk management, scheduling and EVM remain important, they are not sufficient to successfully manage a complex project according to Stephen Hayes, from the Canberra based International Centre for Complex Project Management ICCPM.

ICCPM Ltd was established by Australian, UK and US government bodies and major defence industry corporations, and is now a substantial network of global corporate, government, academic and professional organisations committed to the better management of complex projects across all industry and government sectors focused on improving the success of complex projects.

ICCPM

Whilst all projects have a degree of complexity (see: Project Size and Categorisation) CPM is focused on the major projects undertaken in response to ill-defined and often mutually-incompatible stakeholder requirements and are subject to uncontrollable external influences and almost continuous change.

Successfully managing this type of project needs outcome focused leadership that is capable of developing context specific innovative approaches to issues backed by the tenacity to deliver ‘no matter what’!

The latest report facilitated by ICCPM in conjunction with Global Access Partners and a range of leading public and private sector organisations is entitled “Complex Project Management: Global Perspectives and the Strategic Agenda to 2025” (available from https://iccpm.com/).

This report has developed a framework for on-going research into CPM under six broad themes:

  • Delivery leadership – the ability to navigate through uncertainty and ambiguity to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Collaboration – working as one team to a mutually agreed goal and equitable reward (including operating the entire supply chain as a single entity).
  • Benefits realisation – understanding and delivering through-life product value.
  • Risk, opportunity and resilience – taking good risk, seizing emergent opportunity, and successfully responding to the unexpected.
  • Culture communication and relationships – maximising the effectiveness of the human asset by understanding and responding to human behavioural need.
  • Sustainability and education – continuous learning, maintaining currency in leadership capability and knowledge transfer across generational boundaries in order to sustain through-life capability.

Against each of these a basic set of policies and actions have been developed to define the future work and research agenda of ICCPM, its partners and academia.  To this end ICCPM is working to develop a permanent, co-ordinated global specialist research agenda for CPM.

With support from the UK Cabinet Office, the Australian Government, universities including QUT and DAU, professional associations including IPMA and APM, and companies such as BAE Systems and Thales (to name but a few) this initiative may prove successful.  Two glaring omissions from the list of supporters though are the AIPM and PMI –maybe this blog will trigger some action.

Certainly the emergence of stakeholders at the centre of complexity means stakeholder management and engagement will be a topic of increasing importance which is only to be encouraged.

Note: The contents of this post are based on the executive summary of the ICCPM – GAP CPM Task Force report: www.iccpm.com

New CIOB Contract for Complex Projects

The Chartered Institute Of Building (CIOB) has launched a new contract for construction and engineering projects. The CIOB Contract for Complex Projects has been written for the 21st Century. It is designed to permit the CIOB’s Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects to be put into practice.

The contract can be used for collaborative design with a building information model (BIM) and anticipates and encourages competence in the use of computerised transmission of data. It requires collaborative working in the management of risks and transparency of data used in such management.

The contract has been drafted to be used in any country and legal jurisdiction around the world to provide a means of managing the causes and consequences of delay (the single most common cause of uncontrolled loss and cost escalation in complex building and engineering projects) where the design is produced by the employer, the contractor with or without a building information model.

The key principles embedded in the contract design include:

  • It is written in plain English, suitable for both building and engineering projects and may be adopted for other types of work. It can be used for turnkey, design and build, for construction only, or for part contractor’s design, both in the UK and internationally.
  • It permits a variety of contract documents including BIM (building information model) and requires electronic communications either via a file transfer protocol or a common data environment for collaborative working.
  • The contract contains new roles for the Project Time Manager, Design Coordination Manager and Auditor, as well as the Contract Administrator and the design team.
  • It requires complete transparency in planned and as-built information in compliance with the CIOB’s Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects. It is currently the only standard form of contract available which requires a resourced critical path network, a planning method statement and progress records to a specified, quality assured standard, with significant redress for a failure to comply with the contract requirements.
  • The contractor’s schedule (or programme as it is called in other contracts) is to be a dynamic critical path network in varying densities, described and justified in a planning method statement. It is to be designed in different densities compatible with the information available, reviewed and revised in the light of better information as it becomes available, updated with progress and productivity achieved and resources used and impacted contemporaneously to calculate the effect of intervening events on time and cost (see more on Schedule Density).
  • The contractor’s schedule is not only the time control tool but also the cost control tool against which interim valuations are made and the predicted cost of the works is calculated contemporaneously permitting out-turn cost and total time prediction on a daily basis though the updated working schedule.
  • The contract contains detailed requirements for the identification and use of time and cost contingencies, defines float and concurrency and sets down rules for their use. It provides the power for the contractor to keep the benefit of any time it saves by improved progress as its own contingency, which cannot be taken away.
  • It contains a procedure for contemporaneous expert resolution of issues arising during construction. In the absence of reference to experts specified issues concerning submittal rejections and conditional approvals are deemed to be agreed, helping to avoid doubt about responsibilities and escalation of disputes. The experts used during the course of the works can be called as a witness by either party in any subsequent adjudication and/or arbitration proceedings and, in order to help to give transparency to the way dispute resolvers deal with the contract and help to make sure it functions in the way it is supposed to, the adjudicator’s decision and/or arbitrator’s award is to be a public document, unless the parties agree otherwise.

The Chartered Institute of Building would like to receive your comments and criticism on the Review Edition of the CIOB Contract by Monday, 30 July 2012. All comments will be acknowledged and taken into consideration in future review and revision of the form and its constituent standard form documents. To review the contract see: http://www.ciob.org.uk/CPC

Defining Complex Projects

There has been a lot written about ‘complex project management’ over the last few years much of which as confused projects with programs, complexity with big and complexity with complicated technology. For an overview of complexity theory see: A Simple View of ‘Complexity’ in Project Management.

A sentence in the paper ‘Translation and Convergence in Projects: An Organisational Perspective on Project Success’ (Project Management Journal, Sept.2011) triggered this post and sums up project complexity nicely: “The key difficulty with complex projects is that those managing them will often be ‘feeling their way’ towards a solution rather then following a reliable blueprint or project plan”.

Our view has consistently been that complexity is a function of complexity theory and it is a dimension of every project and program. This means every project has a degree of complexity in the same way that it has a defined size, a degree of technical difficulty and a degree of uncertainty, and all 4 dimensions interact and affect each other. These four dimensions are discussed in the Mosaic White Paper at: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1072_Project_Size.pdf.

What the thought from the paper above highlighted is the very close linkage between complexity which we see as being primarily a function of the project’s stakeholder community and the degree of uncertainty associated with the project outcome. Our blog post, Projects aren’t projects – Typology outlines one way of measuring uncertainty based on a model by Eddie Obeng.

I’m not sure how to measure this empirically yet, but I do have a feeling there is a need to define a measurement system that incorporates the type of uncertainty within the overall matrix of stakeholder engagement and supportiveness already embedded in the Stakeholder Circle® methodology – any thoughts will be appreciated.

See our earlier posts on Complexity.

Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects

Wiley and the Chartered Institute of Building have just published a new book, the Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects. The primary purpose of this Guide is to set down the standards necessary to facilitate the effective and competent management of time in complex projects. It defines the standards by which project schedules will be prepared, quality controlled, updated, reviewed and revised in practice and describes the standards of performance which should reasonably be required of a project scheduler.

Delayed completion affects IT, process plant, oil and gas, civil engineering, shipbuilding and marine work contracts. In fact it affects all industries in all countries and the bigger the project, the more damage delayed completion causes to costs, to reputation and sometimes, even to the survival of the contracting parties themselves.

In simple projects, time can be managed intuitively by any reasonably competent person, but complex projects cannot and a more analytical approach is necessary if the project is to succeed. Although much has been written about how to apportion liability for delay after a project has gone wrong there was, until recently, no guidance on how to manage time pro-actively and effectively on complex projects.

The Guide has been developed as a scheduling reference document capable of wide application. It is a practical treatise on the processes to be followed and standards to be achieved in effective management of time. It can be used in any jurisdiction, under any form of contract, with any type of project and should be identified as the required standard for the preparation and updating of contract programmes, progress reporting and time management.

I may be biased, my partner was part of the team that developed The Guide and it recognises the importance of involving stakeholders in the development of the schedule, but I feel it has a lot to offer project planners and schedulers on any type of project.

For more information;
in Australia see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Books.html#CIOB_Guide elsewhere, http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-144433493X.html

Planning the planning

Developing an effective schedule for a complex project is an art. The schedule has to be an effective communication medium at many different levels:

  • Communicating strategy and the overall concepts of the project to senior management (ideally on one page)
  • Providing direction to managers within the project on what’s required of their section (eg, design or procurement)
  • Coordinating issues between sections
  • Providing details of the work to be done this week by maybe 2000+ people.

The Guide to Good Practice in the Effective Management of Time in Complex Construction Projects (CIOB, publication mid 2010) invokes two concepts to achieve this task. The first is the idea of ‘schedule density’ discussed in my November ’09 post. The final draft of the standard maintains the recommendations of planning the overall project at ‘low density’, expand the work for the next 9 months to ‘medium density’ and the next 3 months at ‘high density’.

The second concept is the idea of schedule levels, potentially aligned to a WBS. The schedule levels in the standard are very similar in definition to those in Mosaic’s Planning White Paper, ‘Schedule Levels’ this means the CIOB standard is generally aligned with long established practices pioneered by Bechtel, Flour and other major contractors.

Melding these two ideas into a plan for the management of schedules on a major project is not so straightforward, particularly once the role of individual contractors is taken into account. The diagram below, Figure 7 in the final draft, shows one possible solution:

CIOB Schedule Levels / WBS

CIOB Schedule Levels / WBS

Using dynamic linking between the different schedules in the coloured boxes the intent of both levels and density can be accommodated.

If this is achieved, the project schedule should change from a static tool used as evidence in disputes after the event to a proactive management tool focused on achieving the best possible time for completion of the project. Which was after all, the reason CIOB started on this task and why many volunteers from around the world (including me) have been happy to contribute time and resources.

Even if you are not in the construction industry, this standard will be a valuable resource – watch this space for news of its publication!