Systems Approach in Project Management

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University College London
The Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management MSc Project Enterprise and Management 2012-2013

TERM PAPER BENVGPM1 PROJECT MANAGEMENT
“All projects need simple processes in place to monitor and control cost, progress and quality. It is argued, however, that projects involving innovation and complexity, almost regardless of size, need a “systems approach” to project management.”

Sokratis Avenidis
SN: 110075446 S.Avenidis.12@ucl.ac.uk

Table of Contents
1. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................ 2 2. LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................. 3 2.1 THE HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF CONSTRUCTION AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT ........... 3 2.2 SYSTEMS APPROACH ................................................................................................................. 4 2.3 THE PROJECT MANAGER: ROLES AND OBJECTIVES ............................................................... 5 2.4 THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE PROJECT SYSTEM.................................................................... 6 2.5 CONSTRUCTION INNOVATION ................................................................................................... 8 2.6 UNCERTAINTY AND COMPLEXITY............................................................................................. 9

3. ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION..................................................................... 10 4. CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS .......................................... 12 5. REFERENCES............................................................................................ 14

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1. INTRODUCTION
In the construction industry the role of project management is one of the key factors in the success of a project. While the success of a construction venture can be defined in numerous ways, the only definition of success for project management is the satisfaction and delight of the client.

A construction project involves several tasks and procedures, with inputs and resources coming from different organisations. Because of this, there is an inherent sense of fragmentation and complexity within the construction industry. The level of complexity also increases by the fact that while construction projects are temporary and unique, organisations within a contract use construction projects as means for the fulfilment of their long-term ambitions and goals, aside from the aims of the client. Hence, there is also a conflict of interest between organisations and the client, which the project manager must address.

There are certain managerial objectives (cost, schedule and quality), which, for many years, have enabled the monitoring and controlling of a project’s process. These set clear goals for the successful completion of the project mission. This system of project evaluation derives from a hard-systems approach to management. Hence, it can be argued that while this model works well quantitatively, there are some qualitative elements that it lacks; one of these features is organisational flexibility.

Now is a very complex period for the construction industry. There are forces outside of construction, which can influence a project significantly; such as sustainability regulations, political decisions, the recession, etc. Innovation is a key factor to help organisations overcome or deal with these difficulties. Innovation can occur in either the project process or the final product. As a business strategy, innovation can improve the cost, time and quality objectives and also contribute to the satisfaction of the client. However, managing innovation is a complex process in an already complex industry.

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Thus, this papers compares, based on existing research, how “systems thinking” in management performs against the simple processes of monitoring and controlling projects. There is a special focus on projects...
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