Complexity Measurement of a Project Activity

Topics: Project management, Construction, Project manager Pages: 10 (2886 words) Published: May 26, 2013

Project managers and practioners in the area of project management frequently describe their projects as simple or complex when discussing management issues [1]. This indicates a practical acceptance that complexity makes a difference to the management of projects [2]. Complexity models provides project managers and leadership teams with direction on how to set up a project and manage it based on its level of complexity so that risk can be minimised [3]. Further there is an increasing agreement that understanding complexity is important for project management because of the difficulties associated with decisions making and goal attainment that appear to be related to complexity [4].It has been suggested that to achieve a better understanding of a project, its complexities should be measured so that fresh approaches can be developed for systematically reducing complexity [5].

Researchers are of the view that measurements are the key for controlling any process because it is difficult to manage what cannot be measured [6]. Further researchers developing a metric for overall cycle time effectiveness for concerted productivity improvement efforts in the service sectors also holds a similar view as what gets measured gets done and improved. However, there is no standard approach to measure service performance as each industry is unique [7]. Due to the unavailability of acceptable quantitative metrics, most companies do this task subjectively. However, the disadvantages of subjective estimates are myriad as they are lengthy and require much work from respondents and investigators [8]. Further it has been reported that they are inaccurate, biased and sensitivity analysis is not easily performed on them [9]. To improve this situation, there is a need to define a good metric which will reduce subjectivity while estimating complexity of a project activity.

Influence of Human Resources on Complexity
It is widely believed that complexity is largely connected to the subjectivity of the observer [10-15]. Subjectivity in complexity is based on the differences of what the problem solver knows and what is the adequate knowledge required to solve the problem [15]. In one of the scientific approaches usually known as the field of perceived complexity, considers complexity as subjective, since the complexity of a system is improperly understood through the perception of an observer. The other one, usually known as the field of descriptive complexity, considers complexity as an intrinsic property of a system, a vision which incited researchers to try to quantify or measure complexity [16]. A similar idea is being given by a researcher who considers project complexity through the concepts of technological complexity and organisational complexity [1]. Both approaches can apply to project complexity and project management complexity [17]. For all practical purposes, a project manager deals with the perceived complexity as he cannot understand and deal with the whole reality and complexity of the project. The information collected by researchers from 183 technical projects managed by general managers and project managers with an average experience of 5.2 years in project management agreed ‘unqualified project personnel’ as one of the factors responsible for project overruns [18]. As a consequence this paper aims at creating a metric for project complexity by establishing a link between ‘skill’ and the perceived complexity of the project manager. One weakness of these complexity measuring models is that they do not consider the effect of ‘skill’ of the involved human resources (project manager and workers) on the complexity, which is the most variable factor within the construction projects. The importance of human resources cannot be discounted because people have varied technical capabilities, skills and experiences whereas manufacturing systems come with fixed characteristics....
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