At Touchstone, we have many years of experience in implementing software for organisations of all different shapes, sizes and industries. One of the questions we are usually asked in the early stages of a project, or even in the early stages of pre-sales is “How long will it take?”
Now, this is a very valid question, and not least because it may well have an impact on the other big question “How much will it cost?” The answer to both of these questions will be affected in no small way by the complexity of your project.
When putting together a proposal for an implementation project, there will always be a number of “known-unknowns”, the experience and knowledge of our team means that we can often account for these and build contingency into our proposals, we would always rather give you a nice surprise at the end of your project, coming in under time and budget, than the nasty shock of running well over time and budget. We pride ourselves on the quality of our service and products, and our proposals will always be put together from knowledge based on time taken to understand your requirements and project need, as well as to understand any potential complexities for your implementation.
John Chapman, Touchstone’s Programme Director discusses the possible complexities of your implementation project, as well as the risks involved, and steps that can be taken to mitigate these risks.
There are three types of Complexity to consider:
Structural Complexity also termed as Blue Bucket ‘This type of complexity is related to traditional ways of assessing a project in terms of size and scope for example:
In other words, structural complexity is a measure of how many moving parts there are on your project’.
Types of project:
Management of structural complexity
For the project delivery we will define the work breakdown structure, develop the responsibility assignment matrix, a detailed project plan, resource plan, risk register and a fairly rigid approach to work. Project progress reviews will be based on % complete assessment against each deliverable. The individuals involved will understand the nature and scope of work. There will be few new processes implemented.
Emergent complexity, also termed as Green Bucket. ‘How much is your project and its surroundings changing as you are trying to manage it? Is the client or the team constantly changing or new stakeholders emerging? We already know that change is inevitable on projects, but some projects are more subjected to change than others. If you’re working on a highly innovative project or a project that is dependent on external world events, the emergent complexity will be high’.
Types of project:
Management of Emergent complexity
In addition to the planning activities that are required for Structural Complexity, be prepared for changes to the implementation workstreams of:
Socio political Complexity
Socio political Complexity also termed as Red Bucket. ‘This type of complexity is about soft skills, relationships, personalities and behaviours that arise under stress. It’s not obvious how to manage a group of clients and stakeholders who change their minds and who behave in infinitely complex ways, especially under pressure’.
Types of project:
Management of Socio Political complexity
In addition to the planning activities that are required for Structural Complexity and to an extent Emergent Complexity consider what would be the appropriate delivery method. Waterfall is unlikely to be effective, a more ‘Agile’ approach with definitions of time and cost but not functionality.
‘Complexity is a subjective notion, reflecting the lived experience of the people involved. … highly dependent on perception and influenced by conscious, subconscious, and affective factors’.
At project initiation we need to look at which type or types of complexity are relevant, and what activities to undertake to seek to minimise its impact. During delivery to continually reassess the complexity for it is likely to change as new information comes to light, unknown risks manifest themselves and the environment changes. On project closure to reflect, as part of our lessons learned, what can be learnt, and taken forward to the next projects.