Complex projects are in an increasing prospect and traditional three-dimensional project management theory based on optimizing the cost-time-quality may not be adequate to ensure efficient management of complex projects. The causes of complexity in projects could be grouped into three broad categories: human behaviour, system behaviour, and ambiguity. Project Complexity differs from project to project and it can be summarised as Organizational complexity, Technological complexity, Socio-political complexity, Environmental complexity, Infrastructural complexity, and Scope complexity. There is a need to systematically measure and evaluate complexity in construction projects and it can be done through surveys, case studies and mathematical models. We need to build a predictive model and tool to measure complexity factors according to the needs of different projects. Solutions can be made by evaluating complexity from the perspectives of risk management, by proper management style and by carrying out qualitative analysis for the establishment of management strategies and finding countermeasures. The seminar focuses on various construction complexities and its solutions
COMPLEXITY: A DEFINITION
TYPES OF COMPLEXITY
IMPACTS AND IMPLICATIONS
SOLUTION: COMPLEXITY MANAGEMENT
7.1 Complex Project Management
7.2 Planning Complexity
7.3 Risk Management, Management Style, Adaptability
7.4 Qualitative analysis – Establishing Management Strategies
In the twenty first century, projects are getting complex in terms of many factors. However, the construction industry is facing difficulty in managing the complexity. Complexity is a relatively new term introduced in the field of construction management, and understanding of complexity and managing complexity have significant importance. Low performances, cost overruns, and schedule delays in mega projects are partly due to complexity and underestimation of complexity. Project success is dependent on complexity and hence traditional project management methods are not enough in effectively managing the projects. There are various types of complexities involved in a project and understanding and finding negotiating measures is equally important. Being able to measure the complexity at an early stage in a project will lead to a better understanding of the project and therefore could be of great benefit in successfully managing projects and reducing the risks associated with complexity. Complexity has to be differentiated from traditional concept of risks and complex project management is the new evolution in project management theory, and it is an extension of traditional project management. Future aspects of complexity is of great research value.
COMPLEXITY: A DEFINITION
Complexity can be coined as a project characteristic or dimension having varied interrelated parts and operationalized in terms of differentiation and interdependency. Differentiation means the number of varied components in the project like tasks, subsystems, etc. and interdependency means the degree of interlinkages between components
Complexity is a highly dynamic concept which is difficult to define and harder to quantify. So one definition will not give a complete idea of complexity. So, in generalised terms, we can say that complexity is the property of project which makes it difficult to understand, foresee and keep control its overall behaviour, even when given reasonably complete information about the project system.
A distinction has to be made between complex projects and complexity. The first term relates to a specific class of projects and the second term is the aspect which define a project complex. Originally, the term ‘complex’ originates from Latin, cum (together, linked) and plexus (braided, plaited). Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘complex’ as consisting of many different and connected parts; not easy to understand; complicated or intricate. Viewing the above definitions, complex in general refers to something which has many parts that are interrelated or connected; and has an element of difficulty, obscurity and complication.
The meaning of complexity is wide and open and it can be interpreted to anything characterized by difficulty. As we say complexity is aspect to define a project complex, it is necessary to establish a threshold, and we have to implicate that every project have some degree of complexity. Thus, complexity is a variable and without measures for it, it is a term that is less than helpful. Two perspectives of complexity are the managerial perspective, which involves the planning of bringing together numerous parts of work to form work flow and the operative and technological perspective, which involves the technical intricacies or difficulties of executing individual pieces of work. This may originate from the resources used and the environment in which the work is carried out.
It is important to differentiate between the terms risk, uncertainty and complexity. Uncertainty can be regarded as the chance occurrence of some event where probability distribution is genuinely not known. This means that uncertainty relates to the occurrence of an event about which little is known, except the fact that it may occur. Uncertainty can be said as a context for risks as events having negative impact on project’s outcomes or opportunities as events that have beneficial impact on project performance. This understanding of risk implies that there is some knowledge about a risk, as opposed to uncertainty about which there is no knowledge. So we can say that risk is one of the implications of uncertainty. Complexity is often considered as being caused by uncertainties and so we can say that risk is an important contributor to the same.
Another useful map for navigating the concepts and field of complexity is “The Stacey Matrix” (Stacey, 1996), in which the complexity is analysed using the two dimensions, the degree of certainty and the level of agreement, on the basis of which it draws distinction between simple, complicated, complex and anarchy. It basically presents a method to select the appropriate management actions in a complex adaptive system based on the degree of certainty and level of agreement, focusing on the choice between management or leadership approaches and helping in sense making in decisions, importance of communication and coping uncertainty.
In Figure 1, we can see that it takes two dimensions into consideration, certainty and agreement, and based on these different zones, regions for simple, complicated, complex and anarchy are given. The two representations of this matrix are shown below; one is the basic zone classification and the other shows the key features and management characteristics.
Complexity Zone (Zone 5) is the zone of our importance and it called as the edge of chaos. It is a zone of high creativity, innovation and breaking from the past, where new modes of operation are created departing from the traditional management approaches.
It is important to know the cause/source of an issue before it can be managed, so in the case of complex projects, it is imperative to know the root cause of complexities in projects. There are many factors which adds to the complexity of a project. Main factors are the project size, variety of the construction project, interdependence, context and urgency.
Complex project are differentiated from traditional projects by degree of disorder, instability, emergence, non-linearity, recursiveness, irregularities and randomness which are present in them in at any given stage and condition. There is a dynamic complexity due to the changing interactions of parts in a system and due to the outcome of these interactions/reactions. Also high uncertainty about the objectives and their implementation, which varies depending on the maturity of individual or organization, high pluralist environment with multiple and divergent views existing across the stakeholders are important factors. Project strategy is emergent, requires constant renegotiation and require changing the rules of their development as they evolve over time.
Some factors were identified as having a greater impact than others. The organisational theme of project complexity is related to the people involved in a project and the relationships between project parties. Poor communication between project parties and having a poor brief at the outset of a project were cited as some of these problems. Having to deal with a large number of different stakeholders all with different interests or aspirations for the project was also often suggested as one of the issues which had the greatest impact on the project. These types of problems relating to the people involved in the project were also suggested to be the most difficult to predict and manage.
Issues regarding the technical or physical complexity were also identified as having an impact upon the project complexity, although it was recognised that these may be easier to contend with and predict than the organisational aspects of complexity previously discussed. The factors that were identified as having the most effect on project complexity relating to the technical or physical complexity of a project were those concerned with the interactions and interdependencies between elements of a project, having a high degree of leading edge technology and issues concerning the environment in which the project is carried out. Uncertainty is one of important influencing factor for the complexity and it is made up of following factors.
Lack of uniformity due to continuous change in resources
Lack of uniformity due to mechanical or other resource breakdown
Undefined work in a defined new structure
Undefined structure or poor buildability assessment
Lack of working drawings
Uncertainty resulting from overlap between design and construction
Lack of experienced local workforce
The factors contributing to project complexity are directly or indirectly related to the three main project elements, People, Product and Process, externally and internally to the projects. Some of the factors in the three categories are shown below in Table 1.
People Process Product
Number of Disciplines involved
Project Manager competence Organizational Structure
Project Management Process
Responsibility ; Accountability Number of Disciplines involved
Unusual type of design
Specific requirements that are technologically difficult
Bespoke software or hardware
TYPES OF COMPLEXITY
Based on the factors discussed above, different types of complexities are defined
The above types of complexities are collectively known as “Cube” of complexity and it can be represented as in Figure 2, along with parameters of complexity corresponding to each
Figure 2 – Cube of Complexity
Undoubtedly, organizations issues are major contributor to complexity and this type of complexity can be characterised by four parameters; contractual conditions, number of work packages, coordination of stake holders and project planning and scheduling. The coordination of various stakeholders could cause project complexity. Improper planning will cause delays and so schedule management play an important role adding complexity to a project
Organizational complexity is the most difficult to predict and manage. The organisational aspect is made up of the following factors:
1. Poor relationships between the project parties
2. Having a large number of project stakeholders
3. Problems with the client
4. Poorly defined project roles
5. Poor communication
6. Poor decision making
The functions of a project organizational structure include: definition of relationships in terms of communication and reporting; allocation of responsibility and authority for decision making; allocation of tasks. Construction projects are typically characterized by the engagement of several separate and diverse organizations, such as consultants and contractors, for a finite period of time. This leads to the creation of a temporary multi organizational structure to manage the construction project. An organization which have a complex structure makes the project complex. Improper division of labour causes complexity. So tasks are structured so that non-specialists can perform them, thereby lessening the skill requirements in a single job position.
Technological complexity is characterized by variety of technologies employed and technological newness of the project. The possession and deployment of technology are always problematic. Though technology transfer from developed world occurs increasingly, the continuing issue was how to adopt those technologies in the local construction conditions to fully utilize them, presented that the “use of a technology that is new to the organization” and “use of a technology that has not yet been fully developed” are the top characteristics of project complexity. In building projects, “Construction method” is a significant factor affecting cost and time performance.
The operational and technological complexity is made up of the following factors:
High degree of technology
High amount of mechanical and electrical installations
Incorporating state of the art/leading edge or new technology
Performing a process for the first time
High number of trades involved
High degree of physically complex roles
High degree of technically complex roles
Role that has no known procedure
The inherent difficulty of the building process
Socio-political complexity is characterized by four parameters: administrative policies/procedures, number of applicable laws and regulations, local experience expected from parties, and influence of politics. Administrative policies/procedures are regulatory processes required before and during construction of transportation projects. Slow permits by government agencies is a delay factor in construction projects. Obviously, socio-political factors affected project implementation and increased project complexity. Laws and regulations applied to projects may be sometimes confusing and ambiguous. As a result, the implementation of projects may encounter many difficulties. In transportation projects, as it is typically spread out in large area and interfaced with various stakeholders, local experience and political influences have major contribution to project complexity. Lack of experience of project location is also an important cause of problems. Significant political/authority influences is one of top most defining characteristic of project complexity. Thus, measuring socio-political complexity helps estimate the level of complexity.
Environmental complexity is one of important component in complexity, especially for projects exposed to weather, sea like transportation projects, marine projects etc. Local climatic conditions have an impact on construction performance. Adverse weather could cause inefficiencies, cost overruns, and/or complete suspension of construction activities. In recent years, due to complex topographical, geological, and hydrological conditions, many projects have frequently encountered significant delays, cost overruns, and poor quality. Geographic conditions are also a major problems experienced during construction. Unforeseen site conditions and subsurface conditions of geology and ground water causes distractions in project. Also, the development of construction projects can cause a variety of environmental risks (noise, pollution, etc.). The existence of these risks obviously contributed to project complexity. It is found that “geological condition” and “neighbouring environment” are in top complexity factors for building projects.
The environmental complexity is made up of the following factors:
Sites in a restricted environment
Sites in a public environment
Sites in an ancient environment
Sites in an exposed environment
Sites on contaminated land
The effect of weather or climatic condition
Unpredictable sub surface
Understanding the legal environment
Infrastructural complexity is a critical component of complexity. Site compensation and clearance was a process in which a governmental agency negotiated with property owners to acquire land and obtain a right of way for a transportation project. Site compensation and clearance is one of the most complexity factor. This can be because of land ownership issues and the gap between market price and regulated price for site compensation. Many projects could be implemented slowly and costly when the project site was not ready and was protested by local communities. Transportation systems are another factor to characterize project complexity as they played a critical role in delivering equipment and materials to construction sites. In remote and isolated areas, development and maintenance of temporary road systems for construction activities are costly. Poor site access and availability is in the top problems in major construction projects. Lastly, qualifications required for contractors, the required level of experiences, capacities, capabilities, etc. from potential contractors to be eligible for working in a project, are another infrastructural complexity factor.
Project scope complexity is one of the component in project complexity, where the “ambiguity of project scope” and “project size in terms of capital” are the two factors attributable to scope complexity. Large transportation projects have difficulties in defining project scope due to limited experience of involved parties. Poorly-defined project scope caused various problems in downstream phases, i.e. construction. The ambiguity of project scope can cause design changes during construction. “Design changes” first in all complexity components, namely importance, frequency, and severity, are the causes of delays in construction. Ambiguity, consisting of uncertainty and emergence, was one of the three categories of complexity suggested by PMI (2014).
Project complexity is an emerging but critical topic in construction project management. Researchers have increasingly recognized the importance of complexity measurement in project diagnosis and sought to measure project complexity from multiple perspectives. The measurement methods can be summarized as case studies, surveys, and mathematical methods
This is a method of studying a particular project to have different finding and one of such can be the advantages and disadvantages of reducing complexity in mega project planning. An international research team’s detailed study of 18 complex projects was used to develop a complexity footprint. Their radar diagram displayed all of the complexity scores of each of the five project management dimensions for the projects studied. The project experts interviewed during the case studies were asked to rate their projects on each of the five project management dimensions using a scale of 10–100. Case studies are done in various levels, and an example is the case study to test the synchronous relationship between hidden workload and project complexity as well as to provide validation of their proposed method.
Researchers have established several approaches to survey models and questionnaire design. One of such survey method is creating a framework for characterizing project complexity based on a literature review and an empirical methods. Wood and Ashton (2010) created a model consisting of two stages, each containing a number of questions in relation to the five themes of project complexity, to measure complexity at an early stage in a project. Xia and Chan (2012) conducted a three-round Delphi questionnaire survey to measure the degree of building project complexity, and produced a complexity index (CI) based on the identified measures and their relative importance. Targeted data collection from experts has been a key area of focus for survey development in project complexity research. For instance, Maylor et al. (2008) developed a grounded model with an investigation into the perceptions of project managers; Remington et al. (2009) revealed a wide range of project complexity factors by interviewing 25 project managers; and Gidado (1996) collected the views and opinions of practitioners on the issue of project complexity through structured interviews with selected building industry experts.
This is the method in which mathematical models are made based on various principles like fuzzy analytic hierarchy process, fuzzy analytic network process, matrices etc. Vidal et al. (2011) used the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and formulated a project complexity measure model to assist in project managers’ decision making. As an extension of AHP, Nguyen et al. (2015) employed the fuzzy analytic hierarchy process (fuzzy AHP) method to determine the weights of the components and parameters of project complexity, and they proposed a complexity level (CL) to measure the overall project complexity. He et al. (2015) formulated a complexity measurement model using a fuzzy analytic network process (FANP). Shafiei-Monfared and Jenab (2012) measured the relative complexity of design projects using managerial and technical graphs and a complexity design structure matrix (CDSM). In their mapped complexity graph, the y-axis represents the initial ranking of projects based on technical and managerial complexity aspects, and the x-axis represents the relative complexity among projects. The relative complexity is the result of the product of the CDSM and the initial ranking vector; this measurement can be used by designers to facilitate resource allocation and cost estimation during the design phase for individual projects
In summary, many scholars have tried to adopt different methods to measure project complexity. Case studies are chosen on some construction projects for obtaining a comprehensive analysis and understanding of the rules. Surveys used for developing a complexity index combine the questionnaire survey and expert scoring to reflect the complexity degree of the whole project. Different parties have a different understanding of project complexity; thus, the evaluation system should consider the position of the various project stakeholders. Mathematical methods have some limitations that can only measure the specific project at a certain point in time.
Through these measurement methods, the research results were summarized as follows:
Measure factors attributed to project complexity and build frameworks in order to assist decision making. Complexity scales and subscales are defined in order to highlight the most complex alternatives and their principal sources of complexity within the set of criteria and sub criteria that exist in a given hierarchical structure.
Measure relative complexity to facilitate resource allocation, based on the complexity of individual projects. Relative complexity and similarity measures can be used to estimate required resources and associated costs.
Measure the complexity level for stakeholders to assess degrees of project complexity and better manage potential risks that might result in different levels of project complexity.
IMPACTS AND IMPLICATIONS
Direct effect of project complexity is on team communication and project performance and there is increased product, organization, and process (POP) complexity and increased communication challenges in the construction industry. Communication problems increase as complexity increases and effects of complexity on project team selection can enable the development and implementation of project actions. This promotes efficient complexity management of interconnected structures that link various objects, rather than management of the objects themselves. As project complexity (e.g., multiplicity and ambiguity) increases, higher and more sophisticated communication levels are needed to achieve optimal performance. A project activity’s complexity can actually be reduced with an increase in workers’ and project managers’ experience and skill.
Technical complexity and novelty are important characteristics of a project that have distinct effects on project performance. Socio-organizational complexity, if not managed, could lead to a reduction in performance. Project uncertainty is the most influential factor on project cycle time and project complexity has a significant effect on two aspects of project success: margin and schedule.
There is an effect of project complexity on the relationship between the leadership competence of project managers and their success in projects and the fact is that emotional and managerial leadership competences are correlated with project success, but are differently moderated by complexity. The two dimensions of project complexity (multiplicity and ambiguity) moderate the flexibility– performance relationship, and this moderating relationship is dependent upon the type of complexity faced by the teams. There is a positive monotonic relationship between goal difficulty and performance, but that it is moderated by project complexity. Complexity have major role to play on governance and performance of public-private partnerships and complexity strongly moderates the relationship between formal and relational contracting.
The project complexity is negatively correlated with project performance, meaning that increasing levels of complexity reduce project performance.
SOLUTION: COMPLEXITY MANAGEMENT
Managing project complexity is perhaps the final goal of project complexity research. Much of the research produced to date in the construction field to improve project performance is directed toward critical project management practices or strategies for dealing with project complexity and ensuring the successful delivery of construction projects
Complex Project Management Techniques
Complex project management focuses managing the five-dimensional sources of complexity. The concept of the “dimensions of complexity” was defined by Remington et al. (2009) as the “source characteristics of complexity.” In traditional project management principles, we take in to account, the golden triangle consisting of time, cost and scope. In five dimensional model, two more parameter are considered along with the other three. The five dimensions are stated as follows.
1.Scope: All the typical engineering requirements including scope of design and construction, quality, and need for integrated delivery;
2.Schedule: The calendar-driven aspects of the project;
3.Cost: Quantifying the scope of work in monetary terms;
4.Context: External influences impacting project development and progress; and
5.Financing: It’s not cost but the sources of the project’s funding.
The external factors that significantly impact complex projects can be grouped in two major categories: project context and project financing. Thus, complex PM involves an increase in the PM’s skill set from the traditional three dimensions to encompass five dimensions. Fig. 2 shows the five-dimensional model that is proposed for a complex transportation PM framework.
Figure 3 : Traditional Three dimensions and Complex five dimensions
Methods and tools for the complex project management with applicable dimensions are tabulated in Table 2 below.
Development Methods Define Project Success factors All
Select Contract based on outcomes Scope, Financing, Schedule
Assemble Owner driven Project Team Context, Scope
Prepare Finance plan ; Early cost model Financing, Cost
Define Political Action Plan Context
Tools Incentivize Critical Project Outcomes All
Develop dispute resolution plan All
Perform comprehensive risk analysis All
Identify critical permit issues All
Evaluate applications of off-site fabrication Scope, Schedule, Cost
Determine required level of involvement in utilities Scope, Context, Cost
Determine work package Scope, Schedule
Design to budget Scope, Cost
Co-locate project team Scope
Establish flexible design criteria Scope
Evaluate Flexible Financing Financing
Develop finance expenditure model Financing
Establish public involvement plan Context
Table 2: Development methods and Tools
Method 1: Define Critical Project Success Factors
The critical project success factors are typically comprised of both subjective and objective inputs. On complex projects, the team needs a simplifying heuristic to guide decisions and analyses. The critical project success factors provide just such a simplifying heuristic. The point of Method 1 is to identify the legislative and political directives, gather input from agency and project leaders, estimate project resource requirements and determine if they are currently available, assess community needs and influence over project feasibility, and ascertain project characteristics. These inputs are then used to define critical success factors in each of the five dimensions of the 5DPM model.
In reality there are various factors outside the control of project management which affect the project success and these factors in the literature are referred to as Critical Success Factors (CSF). Project managers have to either focus or rely on these factors to ensure the project is on the desired track.
Method 2: Select Contract Based on Project Outcomes
Method 2 is one of three resource allocation methods in the complex management plan. Method 2 is intended to help the project team identify administrative resources (primarily procurement methods and contracts) that are best suited to the project and are most likely to facilitate project success. The most likely starting place for this is Method 2, Selection of Contracts, which should be part of a deliberate project management plan based on critical project outcomes and integrated with other resource allocation methods (Method 3 = Project Team and Method 4 = Cost Model).
Method 3: Assemble Owner-Driven Project Team
The owner’s team is the driver of the project, selection of the appropriate people at the appropriate time is important in successfully delivering a complex project. Not only is having the right people important but so is giving them the authority needed to effectively execute their responsibilities. The inputs are used to identify the critical skill sets required for project success. The project team can then assess internal capabilities and determine any gaps in required and existing skills. This gap analysis will inform the procurement plan described in Method 2, as any gaps in required skill or knowledge will need to be added to the team through contracts
Method 4: Prepare Finance Plan and Early Cost Model
Understanding the financial model, where the funding is coming from, where costs are being expended, and the limitations on design and context flexibility imposed by funding is important to project success. Inputs to be considered come from the complexity analysis, complexity flowchart, the complexity map, and the critical success factors identified in Method 1. The inputs are used to identify all current available sources of funding with have a high degree of certainty. The next step is to compare the available funding to the expected cost and scope of the project. If the available resources are sufficient, the project team can incorporate the funding flows into the procurement plan and develop a relatively straight forward cost model using standard project management tools such as resource loaded CPM schedules, earned-value analysis, or cash balance linked project draw schedules. However, if available project funding is insufficient, the project team must look for additional external funding sources or adjust the project scope or develop a phased approach to fit available funds.
Method 5: Define Political Action Plan
Legislators, community stakeholders, utilities, railroads, and many other individuals and groups may play a very important and influential role in a complex project, more so than in normal projects. Understanding the influence and how to positively direct this influence is important.
Political action plans can be targeted toward a specific stakeholder (such as attempts to change restrictive legislation to allow innovation on a specific project) or can be general in nature, such as a public information and communication plan aimed at improving project support across a wide range of stakeholders. The inputs are used to identify any “showstoppers” that will inhibit project success if they cannot be eliminated. This might include restrictive legislation, cooperation of utilities, acquisition of Rights of Way, expedited NEPA reviews, support of local community groups, etc. The most critical dimension should be analyzed first to determine the need for targeted political action plans, with subsequent dimensions analyzed in decreasing order of criticality.
Tool 1: Incentivize Critical Project Outcomes
Based on the previously identified outcomes there is a need to incentivize the designers and contractors on the project to meet these project goals. The incentives range from traditional schedule, cost, and safety incentives to the performance areas from various external factors such as social, environmental, public involvement, and traffic mobility.
Tool 2: Develop Dispute Resolution Plan
Realizing that complex projects offer greater numbers of dispute points a thoughtful dispute plan is helpful. The dispute resolution plans should be negotiated for neighbourhood groups, , and other indirect stakeholders, integrated into Political Action Plan, and contractually stipulated between designer and owner if scope agreement issues arise. The goal of the dispute resolution plan should be to proactively identify and manage conflicts before they have a negative impact on cost, schedule, or risk.
Tool 3: Perform Comprehensive Risk Analysis
The risk analysis must include some clear and concise assignment of responsibilities and assignment of designated resources. The risk analysis must include not only traditional cost and schedule issues, but also context and financing issues, such as utilities, appropriations/capital bill allocation (use it or lose it funding), effect of delays on private equity viability. The risk analysis outcomes can be used to develop aggressive mitigation plans, including possibility of re-allocating contingency within project segments or phases to prevent delays or cost increases. Early involvement from contractor group or construction specialty review board is effective to retrieve input on means, methods, and material supply issues.
Tool 4: Identify Critical Permit Issues
Development of timelines for environmental and other critical regulatory reviews is critical for successful projects, especially very early in the project life cycle. Flexible response mechanisms for permit issues as well as flexible planning and design for minimal impact from the permit issues must be developed for the success of the projects especially where uncertainty is high (e.g., geotechnical and subsurface conditions etc.).
Tool 5: Evaluate Applications of Off-Site Fabrication
Off-site fabrication must be considered for not only schedule control purposes, but also quality control, minimal public disruption such as noise and loss of access, and environmental impact control. Considering that complexity on projects may come from context issues, off-site fabrication can be a good solution for external issues that minimize road closures, disruption to local business, traffic delays, detour lengths and public inconvenience.
Tool 6: Determine Required Level of Involvement in Utilities
Determination of the required level of involvement in utilities should be based on the critical project success factors. Even when contractual responsibilities for coordinating utilities are assigned to the contractor or design-builder, it is the owner agency and general public, which will ultimately suffer if, utility issues are not integrated into the overall project.
Tool 7: Determine Work Package/Sequence
Carefully designed work package/sequence can increase project success possibilities. Projects will suffer if the work packages are determined without consideration of available funding sources, available contractors’ capabilities, and stakeholder’s concern for the project’s impact. The work package/sequence must be prepared based on high-certainty funding sources, local contracting capabilities, available work force, bonding issues, procurement planning (division of internal and external work), road closure and detour options, and local access issues.
Tool 8: Design to Budget
Often, complex projects have complicated funding systems with fixed, expiring appropriations that cannot be exceeded and must be disbursed within a specified time frame, In other cases, portions of the project are underwritten by debt instruments and in some cases, entire project funding may not even be identified or secured. In these cases, designing within the budget is the only way to execute the project. However, design to budget should be administered strategically.
Tool 9: Co-Locate Team
Prior to the start of the project, it is very important to discuss the advantages and disadvantages concerning project team co-location. Some compromise may be necessary, but having the whole team together most of the time may increase the odds of achieving critical project success factors. Especially, on multijurisdictional projects, placing a dedicated, empowered, representative project team in a common location is important. Depending on project delivery system utilized, the co-location strategy can be incorporated for design-build partners or contracting team in later stages.
Tool 10: Establish Flexible Design Criteria
Establishment of flexible design criteria is closely related to project cost, schedule, and quality performance (e.g., designing to a budget) as well as critical permit issues as mentioned earlier. Flexible design criteria can minimize potential utility conflicts. Flexible designs can be achieved through use of design exceptions, need-based review and approval processes, performance specifications, and mechanistic designs. Whenever possible, implementation of procurement protocols should be considered because they allow designers to work with major material suppliers/ vendors early in the project life cycle.
Tool 11: Evaluate Flexible Financing
Alternative funding sources should not be overlooked to furnish the needed funds for a project. Several alternative funding sources are available, implementing hybrid forms of contracting such as public-private-partnerships project phasing to leverage different sources of financing, tolling and other revenue-generation approaches (congestion pricing, hotlanes, etc.), and monetization of assets and service options, such as franchising.
Tool 12: Develop Finance Expenditure Model
Project cash flows must be obtained and integrated into project phasing plans to balance anticipated inflows and outflows of funds. Utilization of resource-loaded project plans and network schedules is recommended to track expenditures and project cash needs.
Tool 13: Establish Public Involvement Plan
Stakeholder’s needs and concerns are frequently the driver in developing design options and project delivery methods for some complex projects. Extensive public outreach is required for project success, especially for complex renewal projects. Public involvement early in the planning phase can be important in mitigating public disruption (such as with self-detour planning) and dissatisfaction
Planning complexity is the understanding of whole problem before it starts. Upfront scope planning contributes to the project success and for a better planning, we have to identify between the “Must have requirements” and “Could have requirements”
•The Project cannot deliver on the target date without this
•There is no point deploying the solution without this requirement
•The solution will not be legal / safe / fit for purpose
The requirement is important but not vital
The requirement may be painful to leave out but the solution is still viable
The requirement may need some form of workaround
The requirement is wanted or desirable but less important
If the requirement is left out, the impact is minimal
So based on these concepts, the process of planning can be as in the figure 4
Figure 3 – Planning based on requirement type
So in the planning, the must have requirements are given top priority, and they are planned well before the construction starts. The system of planning can be illustrated as shown in figure 4
Figure 4: System of Planning
Risk Management, Management Style, Adaptability
The conventional idea is to look complexity in the prospect of risk. The traditional methods and strategies can be grouped into three main categories: risk management, management style, and adaptability.
The complexity of a project leads to another, related network of interdependent risks. There have been attempt to address project complexity through risk management. The risk analysis must include not only traditional cost and schedule issues, but also context and financing issues
Risk management process basically consists of five process and can be schematically represented as in figure 5
Step 1 – Establish the context
Step 2 – Identify the risks
Step 3 – Analyse the risks
Step 4 – Evaluate the risks
Step 5 – Treat the risks
Figure 5: Risk Management Process
There are different methods in managing risks like analytical design planning techniques and design structure matrices (DSM) to manage design projects and matrix-based method for modelling risk interactions and re-evaluating risks in terms of various indicators. These approaches assists project managers in prioritizing certain risks and designing more effective response actions. For example, corrective actions are often designed for the critical risks such as a decrease in return profit and available cash flow decrease to reduce losses. It is found that complexity reduction strategies can be a beneficial approach for infrastructure mega projects, such as decision-making processes that accommodate outside influences and strategic input, to keep uncertainty within a manageable domain of risk. In an effort to improve the effectiveness and accuracy of stakeholder and risk analysis, the social network analysis method is effective, and modeling the interactive networks of different stakeholders in green building projects to identify potential risks within these networks is done.
It is crucial for a project manager to master project complexity Several researchers have investigated successful management with increasing levels of complexity and uncertainty in project environments. The reflective personal skills, competencies, and thinking processes underpin project managers’ high performance in complex projects, and practitioner development would focus more on enabling reflective practitioners rather than providing skilled technicians. The effects of leadership style and socio-organizational complexity and developed a framework that enables the management of the effects of socio-organizational complexity through a transformational leadership style. The advanced level of project management education and skill development required to confidently navigate dynamic organizational environments and complex projects facing project managers today.
Adaptive capacity is the ability to adapt to actual changes in context, or changes in the perception of context. The concept of adaptive capacity can be established using organizational learning theory, taking empirical data from a mega project to identify the moments of adaptation and to discern the mechanisms that enhance or limit adaptive capacity within the decision-making and planning processes. The ability to be adaptive and responsive as one of the approaches to managing complexity considering structural and dynamic characteristics of project complexity
As a new theory of project management, project complexity management is still in the early stages of development, we can make use of risk analysis, management style and adaptability in managing complex projects. By far, management research of project complexity either focuses on the management strategy or focuses on the methods and measures is based on qualitative analysis of project complexity. It is necessary to strengthen the attention on how to manage and control project complexity and carry out quantitative analyses on the different types of complexity for informing better management decisions.
Qualitative analysis – Establishing Management Strategies
Qualitative analysis can be said as a subjective approach which includes examining and reflecting on perceptions in order to gain understanding of social and human activities. A qualitative approach is often used when it is needed to reveal a person’s experience or behaviour, to create an in-depth analysis of a specific process of a single case study or limited number of cases, and to understand a phenomenon, about which there is very little information
For that there are some methods of project complexity evaluation and assessment. Some of these methods are used for assessing complexity in order to manage it; others aim to assess complexity in order to facilitate selection of project manager/team by matching competencies with levels of project complexity. Several practice-oriented methods, including the PMI method, the Project Complexity and Risk Assessment tool (PCRA) from the Treasury Board of the Canadian Government, the Helmsman Institute method, and the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards method are developed. These methods are discussed below.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a US based independent professional organisation for project management. In a recent update of the PMBOK guide, it introduced the concept of complex project management (CPM) (PMI, 2014). The evaluation of complexity in this guide is developed based on the work of Hass (2007), which introduces and evaluates dimensions of complexity that exist on a particular project, so that the project team can take the proper complexity management decisions. The dimensions include project time, team size, team composition and performance, project urgency, schedule, cost flexibility, clarity of the problem and solution, requirements validity, strategic importance, level of organisational change, external constraints, political implications, and level of commercial change. Rather than using a numerical score, each factor is assessed using a three point scale: highly complex, moderately complex and independent. Depending on the complexity profile of all factors, the whole project is also labelled using the same scale from a complexity perspective. Scale thresholds are defined for all factors in a project complexity formula; Table 3 shows an excerpt. Some of the thresholds are defined in explicit quantifiable terms, such as time, cost and team size, which will make the assessment easy for these factors. Others are defined in qualitative terms, such as team composition and performance; assessment of qualitative factors will not be as straightforward. Because the PMI guide can be applied in multiple sectors, the quantitative thresholds may not necessarily be appropriate to specific sectors. Another criticism of this PMI method, from the perspective of this study, is that the complexity factors are not sufficiently detailed.
Dimensions Project Profile
Independent Moderately Complex Highly Complex
Time / Cost ; 3 months
$250K 3 – 6 months
250K – $750K ; 6 months
Team Size 3 – 4 team members 5 – 10 team members ; 10 team members
Performance Strong project leadership
Team staffed internally, has worked together in the past, and has a track record of reliable estimates Formal, proven PM, BA, SE
methodology with QA and QC processes defined and operational Competent project leadership
Team staffed with internal and external resources; internal staff have worked together in the past, has a track record of reliable estimates
Contract for external resources is straightforward; contractor
Semi-formal methodology with QA/QC processes defined Project manager inexperienced in leading complex projects
Complex team structure of varying competencies, (e.g., contractor teams, virtual teams, culturally diverse teams, outsourced teams)
Complex contracts; contractor performance
Table 4 shows comparison of various other methods like the Project Complexity and Risk Assessment tool (PCRA) from the Treasury Board of the Canadian Government, the Helmsman Institute method, and the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards
method (GAPPS Method)
PCRA Tool Helmsman Institute Method GAPPS Method
Measurement criteria 64 indicators are identified and categorised into six groups. For each indicator numerical rating is a 1-5 scale. 47 factors are suggested and categorised in five areas. A 1-
10 scale evaluates the complexity level of each factor. 7 complexity factors suggested and a 1-4 scale of low, moderate, high ; very high measures them.
Scoring method The aggregation of indicators scores to produce a project complexity score. It then ranks the project in one of four levels, sustaining, tactical, evolutionary and transformational. Aggregation of factors’ scores obtains project complexity score. The aggregation of factors’ scores linearly calculates the final complexity level.
Strengths List of indicators, categorisation and numerical rating is provided
For each score a management level is suggested Method is accepted and used by both public and private sector
Simple assessment method Simple to apply
Limitations No theoretical background for each element of method
Identification of indicators is not consistent
No weight or rank for factors Scoring is very subjective without any rating criteria assigned to scaled
No weight or rank for factors Only few factors are identified
Subjective scoring due to lack of ratings
No weights for factors
Table 4: Comparison of other methods
Construction projects are often referred to as being complex; however, there seems to be no universally accepted definition of the term project complexity in the construction industry. There has not been a comprehensive framework that includes and integrates all the identified aspects of project complexity in the context of construction projects. Based on these findings, it is suggested that future research should focus on which specific factors drive project complexity for different types of construction projects. Influencing factors of project complexity from different perspectives within a project, such as owners, designers, and contractors should also be identified and analysed within different phases of the project lifecycle.
Indices of project performance are usually carried out at a macro level and lack practical applications. In addition, researchers themselves have more often investigated the general concept of project complexity in project management, seldom taking into consideration the characteristics of the construction industry.
One important potential direction for future research should focus on the relationship between project complexity and success outcomes. Successful project management requires analysis of how project complexity affects project constraints, such as quality, time, and cost. Project managers need this knowledge in order to efficiently manage the dynamic nature of large-scale construction projects.
By researches, it is necessary to adopt a more robust approach to measure project complexity, taking in to account a project’s structural, dynamic and interactive elements. Also these is a need to build a predictive model and tool to measure complexity factors according to the needs of different projects. In managerial prospect, strengthening the attention on how to manage and control complexity have to be done and we need to address project complexity when the level of complexity changes throughout the project life cycle.
The realization of complexity and its importance is highlighted by the following quotation,
“I think the next century will be the century of complexity”
– Stephen Hawking, January 2000
With project complexity increasing internationally across the construction industry, traditional project management approaches are not enough to ensure successful project outcomes. As a result, project complexity has become an important topic for researchers and industry experts exploring effective management practices.. There is no universally accepted definition of project complexity in the construction industry, but in the words of David Baccarini(1996) it can be coined as a project characteristic or dimension having varied interrelated parts and operationalized in terms of differentiation and interdependency. There are various approaches to measuring project complexity, with most studies addressing conceptual frameworks of project complexity. It is now widely accepted that project complexity has a negative effect on project performance. So there is a need for a proper management system, and traditional project management concepts cannot be effective in managing the complexity. Five dimensional management is introduced in this prospective, adding dimensions financing and context. Future of construction complexity rely on various areas like influencing factors of project complexity from the perspective of different stakeholders and different phases of a project’s lifecycle; the relationship between project complexity and project success; project complexity measurement that takes into account structural, dynamic, and interactive elements; and management of project complexity for different project types and increased project complexity during a project’s lifecycle.
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