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Managing Complex Projects

ISBN: 978-0-470-60034-4
416 pages
September 2010
Managing Complex Projects (0470600349) cover image


The application of project management techniques is considered standard practice in today's business environment. What is not widely known is that the learning gap separating good project management from exceptional project management is not as great as one might think—yet, the difference in the return on value can be quite significant. Many factors determine how projects are approached, such as rapid shifts in technology, a fluctuating market, changes in a business's organizational structure, and politics. As these forces add to a project's complexity and duration, project managers must develop strategies that allow them to think outside the box and create new on-the-go methodologies.

Managing Complex Projects delivers the tools necessary to take on an unpredictable economy with an adaptable battle plan proven to meet the differing needs of an ever-expanding set of partners and stakeholders involved in a project. This book shows how to solve some of the issues facing today's project manager, including:

  • Dealing with multiple virtual teams located around the world
  • Working with partners and stakeholders that may have limited project management tools and experience
  • Adjusting to long-term projects in which the stakeholders may change
  • Managing projects where stated goals and objectives differ among stakeholders

This book shows how companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Siemens are exploring new avenues to aid them in taking on complex projects by combining "hard" skills, such as risk management and scheduling, with "soft" skills that focus on interpersonal communication. Managing Complex Projects serves as a lifesaver for time-crunched project managers looking for new ways to maximize their efforts.

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Table of Contents



International Institute for Learning, Inc. (IIL).


Project Characteristics.

The Complexity of Defining Complexity.

Components of Complex Projects.

The Triple Constraint.

Secondary Success Factors.

Other Success Factors.

The Modified Triple Constraint.

Prioritization of Constraints.

Types of Project Resources.

Skill Set.

Three Critical Requirements.

Problem Identification and Solution.

The "Traditional" Project.

The "Nontraditional" (Complex) Project.

Why Traditional Project Management Must Change.

Traditional versus Complex Projects.

The Need for "Value" as a Driver.

The Benefi ts of "Value" as a Driver.

Elements of Complexity.

Types of Virtual Teams.

Virtual Team Competencies.

Virtual Team Myths.

Customer RFP Requirements.

The Need for Business Solution Partners.

"Engagement" Expectations.

Before and After Engagement Project Management.

Percentage of Projects Using Project Management.

Possible Complex Project Outcomes.

Long-Term Globalization Project Management Strategy.

Global versus Nonglobal Companies.

Quantity of Tools.

Project Management Software.

Areas of Best Practices.

The Collective Belief.


Changes in Focus.

Project Sponsorship (1 of 2).

Project Sponsorship (2 of 2).

Project Accountability.

EPM Methodologies.

Enterprise Environmental Factors.

Organizational Process Assets.

Weaknesses in Leadership Skills.

Project's Business Case.

Project Governance.

Project's Assumptions.

Alignment of Goals.

Expert Judgment.

Project Charter.

Project Decision-Making.

Go and No-Go Decision Points.

Project Replanning.


Poor Project Performance.

Project Justification.

Project Plan Ownership.

The Project Plan: Summary Levels.

Project Management Plan.

Project Approvals.

Project's Constraints.

Identification of Deliverables.

Change Management.

Change Control Meetings.

Conducting Meetings.

Partnerships and Alliances.

Ability to Change.


Project Boundaries.

Stakeholder Identification.

Requirements Collection.

Changing Product Requirements.

The Project Plan: Work Package Levels.

Project’s Deliverables.

Work Performance Information.

Verify Scope.

Control Scope.


Project Dependencies.


Activity List.

Project Schedule.

Purpose of Schedule.

Types of Schedules.

Published Estimating Data.

Project Management Software.

Top-Down versus Bottom-Up Estimating.

Three-Point Estimates.

Duration versus Effort.

"What-if" Scenarios.

Schedule Compression Techniques.


The Basis for Project Funding.

Project Funding.

Multiple Funding Sources.

Management Reserves.

Cost-Estimating Techniques.

Use of Earned Value Measurement.

Forecast Reports.


Fervent Belief.

Conflicts over Objectives.

Shifting Leadership.

Wage and Salary Inconsistencies.

High Stakes.


Multiple Cultures.

Multicultural Teams.

Shifting of Key Personnel.

Quantity of Resources.

Quality of the Resources.

Availability of Resources.

Control of the Resources.

Worker Retention.


Material/Service Requirements.

BOT/ROT Contracts.

Control of Vendors.

Regulations Governing Vendor Selection.

Impact of Stakeholders.

Adversarial Procurement Positions.

Multiple Contract Types.


"Satisficing" Zones.

Different Life Cycles.


Cost-Benefit Analysis.

New Quality Boundaries.


Complexity, Uncertainty, and Risk.

Risk Management.

Identify Risks.

Unequal Contingency Planning.

Risk Analysis.

Multiple Options Analysis.

Risk Prioritization.

Determining Risk Response Strategies.

Monitoring and Controlling Risk.

Technical Risks.

Management Reserve.



Stakeholder Commitment.

Getting Stakeholder Agreements.

Stakeholder Issues and Challenges.

Making Bad Assumptions.

Another Bad Assumption.

Value Creation.

Stakeholder Management Responsibility.

Changing Views in Stakeholder Management.

Life-Cycle Stakeholder Management.

Stakeholder Management—Macro Level.

Stakeholder Management versus Customer Loyalty.

Stakeholder Management—Micro Level.

Stakeholder Identification.

Classification of Stakeholders.

Tiered Stakeholder Identification.

Managing Stakeholder Expectations.

Managing Stakeholder Expectations: The Design of Health Care Products.

Perform Stakeholder Analysis.

Stakeholder Mapping.

Key Stakeholders.

Unimportant Stakeholders.

Perform Stakeholder Engagements.

Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Prioritizing Stakeholders' Needs.

Stakeholder Information Flow.

Virtual Teams.

Measuring KPIs.

Reporting KPI Data.

Summarized KPI Milestones.

Stakeholder Communications.

Project Review Meetings.

Stakeholder Scope Change Requests.

Linear Thinking.

Enforcing Stakeholder Agreements.

Stakeholder Debriefing Sessions.

Satisfaction Management Survey Factors.

Complex Project Management Skills.

Three Critical Factors for Successful Stakeholder Management.

Successful Stakeholder Management.

Failures in Stakeholder Management.

Final Thoughts.


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Author Information

HAROLD D. KERZNER, PHD, is Senior Executive Director at International Institute for Learning, Inc., a global learning solutions company that conducts training for leading corporations throughout the world. He is a globally recognized expert on project, program, and portfolio management; total quality management; and strategic planning. Dr. Kerzner is the author of bestselling books and texts, including the acclaimed Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, Tenth Edition.

CARL BELACK, PMP, is a Senior Consultant and Trainer for International Institute for Learning, Inc.

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LEARNING, INC. (IIL) is a global leader in training, consulting, coaching, and customized course development. IIL's core competencies include: project, program, and portfolio management; business analysis; Microsoft® Project and Project Server; Lean Six Sigma; PRINCE2®; ITIL®; and leadership and interpersonal skills. IIL delivers innovative, effective, and consistent training solutions through a variety of learning approaches, including traditional classroom, virtual classroom, simulation training, and interactive, on-demand learning. IIL is a PMI® Charter Global Registered Education Provider, a member of PMI's Corporate Council, an Accredited Training Organization for PRINCE2 and ITIL, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and an IIBA® Endorsed Education Provider.

For more information, visit www.iil.com

See a listing of IIL's webinars at www.iil.com/webinars

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