Measuring Project Complexity

IEEE 9th International System of Systems Engineering Conference

Most large projects are complex systems of systems themselves or effect changes to complex systems of systems or both. Project complexity is therefore a rich research field, but has yet to develop a generally-accepted industry standard that enables practitioners to utilise current knowledge.

A project complexity meta-framework incorporating key insights from existing frameworks has been developed to provide practical guidance and actionable information to project managers, and allow comparisons across organisations and industries.

This meta-framework measures inherent complexity characteristics and contextual factors that amplify or attenuate them. Algorithms have been developed to calculate the impact of contextual factors on inherent complexity and hence determine actual or experienced project complexity.

Inherent complexity is difficult to change, but contextual factors can often be addressed, at a project level and at a systemic organisational level. The meta-framework provides focus for these improvement efforts in socio-technical enterprises and a means of tracking their effectiveness.