The National Academies

SHRP 2 R10 [Completed]

Project Management Strategies for Complex Projects

  Project Data
Funds: $1,700,000
Research Agency: Iowa State University
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Shane
Effective Date: 9/1/2009
Completion Date: 7/31/2014

Project snapshot. More details below.

(Project Number)
Impact on Practice
Product Status

A five-dimensional approach to project management that adds project context and funding mechanisms to the three standard factors of cost, schedule, and engineering requirements.
Methods for assessing complexity factors will help managers make rational resource allocations and guide planning and implementation. The approach is fully scalable and can be used for all types of projects. It will also guide managers through a process to fully integrate project teams across the entire lifecycle, a foundation of project success. Project managers can proactively identify, plan for, and manage their projects to reduce the schedule and cost impacts that arise out of risk.
Case studies were conducted for complex projects such as: Capital Beltway HOV/HOT, Northern VA; Doyle Drive, San Francisco; I-40 Crosstown in Oklahoma City; and Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridge.

The report is available at www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/167481.aspx.
The guidebook is available at https://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/167482.aspx.

Rapid renewal projects cover a wide spectrum of project types, varying in engineering complexity, size, modality, jurisdictional control, financing approach, contract type, and delivery method. Each project calls for a distinct project management style with teams composed of different resident skill sets required for successful project completion. Because the project management issues in renewal are markedly different from the issues in new construction, new project management strategies are needed.

The objective of this project was to provide transportation agencies with tools that can be used to develop innovative and effective project management strategies that can accelerate sound decision-making during rapid renewal projects.

A literature review was conducted to investigate what makes projects complex and how this complexity is being managed. Following the literature review, 15 projects in the United States and 3 international projects were investigated through in-depth case studies to identify tools that aid managers of complex projects in delivering projects successfully. These 18 projects represent a number of different project types, locations, sizes, and phases of development. Based on the findings of the literature review and case studies, a guidebook and training program were developed. The guidebook is intended to be independent of the training, while the training is based on the information in the guidebook. The training is a day-and-a-half session that focuses on the five-dimensional approach to project management for complex projects, which adds context and funding mechanisms to the three standard factors of cost, schedule, and engineering requirements, and five methods that are best used in every complex project. The training workshop was piloted in sessions across the United States, which resulted in modifications in the method and order of the material. The project also developed 13 tools that may be helpful on complex projects and created a series of webinars about these tools.

Project Status: This project is active.

Product Availability: The final report and guidebook are available as prepublication documents. The training materials, case studies, and webinars will be available at a later date.

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