Managing Complex Industrial Projects A comparison between holistic models

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Even though the management of large projects has been studied for many years, the track record is still poor, especially for those projects developing complex systems. This thesis studies projects such as these and attempts to find clues as to why some succeed while others do not. Among the challenges, is the specific yet basic need to create a shared understanding in a group of hundreds engineering specialists with their own ideas (biases) of how things actually work. Further, complex development projects are likely to change, especially those projects involved with new technologies that should be state of the art when they hit the market after several years of development time. Thus, there is a need for a tool that can be used to adapt to changes.An important part of this thesis is the evaluation of different diagram systems that have been used in different development projects. These diagrams function as a device to create a shared understanding of the project and enable those involved to maneuver the project through changes. The evaluation focuses on what the diagrams can express and how easy it is to understand their content. In terms of expressiveness, one of the three evaluated models: the Anatomy Model, answers the largest number of questions relevant to the total project manager. In terms of ease of use, the evaluation shows that the Anatomy did not only answer more questions relevant to the total project manager, but was also easier to maneuver through compared to the alternative models. The thesis concludes that when working with complex development projects, a model like the anatomy provides the project manager with a simple tool that can be used to maneuver through changes and create a communal understanding. Such a simplified model addresses more questions that are relevant to the project manager and is easier to update than the traditional tools that are suggested in most literature.