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March 2013

Message from the CEO

Priya & Malar from the UK Cabinet Office inside Lancaster House

As we move into the second quarter of 2013, the pace in and around ICCPM’s activities continues to surprise me. The dedicated team around the world continues to make significant progress. Our global success is due in no small part due to the selfless support of our wonderful Headquarters Team, Board of Directors, Associate Partners, Research Leaders and many others.  Please feel free to contact any of our team if ICCPM can support your CPM program or research activities.

Before I go on to share more about our own activities, I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Dr Guy Ben-Ari who recently passed away. Guy was a leading light at the world renowned US think tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.  http://csis.org/programs/defense-industrial-initiatives-group/csis-mourns-loss-guy-ben-ari-1973-2013.  For the ICCPM family, Guy was long-time supporter of our work, a personal friend, and a visionary for all of us embroiled in the grand challenge of delivering better outcomes for government and industry in increasingly complex environments.

By its very nature, much of what ICCPM is doing very successfully to support its partners in the CPM space through our Associate Partner Network is too sensitive to publish. However, our new Deputy Chief Executive, Deborah Hein, and I are happy to discuss the options for support in a confidential environment.  Of course the executive education side is less publicly sensitive and I am delighted with the feedback we have had in UK, Canada and Australia for the various courses that have been delivered there. Of particular note is the recent series of programs delivered by Abby Straus and Dr John Findlay from Maverick and Boutique in Australia during March 2013.  Another major series of programs is being held in Brazil during May in collaboration with MundoPM and a number of other industry partners.

We are delighted with the response to the launch of our individual membership program. The program was launched as a response to an increasing number of calls from individuals who also want to be part of the ICCPM family.  The number of new members continues to grow rapidly. Members are entitled to a range of benefits as detailed on our website.  Included in these is the entitlement to use the post-nominal MICCPM or GICCPM for those who have completed an ICCPM CPM recognised post-graduate program.

Through its research arm, KD2, ICCPM continues to support CPM research.  The much awaited CPM Digital Gateway (Library) is close to being launched and is undergoing final development with input from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).  Our most exciting investment continues to be the preparation of a bid for the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Managing Complex Projects and Programs that will be presented for consideration by the Australian Government in June 2013.  In addition to the industry, government and international research partners, the essential Australian research partners include ICCPM, Curtin University, CSIRO, the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Adelaide, the University of Sydney and Queensland University of Technology. For more information on the CRC please visit the ICCPM web site at http://www.iccpm.com/content/cooperative-research-centre-managing-complex-projects-and-programs.  

The launch of our eBook series has gone particularly well with contributions from a broad range of international authors already on the publishing schedule. Many thanks must go to Reverend Michael Cavanagh in Ireland for agreeing to be the series editor.  Stay tuned to our website www.iccpm.com for the latest. We have also agreed to collaborate with the Queensland University of Technology and The PM Channel in the UK to launch a monthly Complexity Leadership video series.  Watch the website for further information!

An important note for our partners and members:  I am pleased to announce that our annual Research and Innovation Seminar is being hosted by the UK Government’s Cabinet Office in collaboration with the National Audit Office at Lancaster House in London on 8 and October. The Conference title is “Preparing for the Unexpected: Flexibility and Resilience in Project Design and Delivery” and more information on the theme is available on our Events page.  Special thanks to David Pitchford, Executive Director of the Major Projects Authority, and his team for their generous support.  This is set to be a prestigious event with a range of international speakers and is by invitation only.  ICCPM corporate and individual members are automatically invited at no cost other than the formal dinner. However, the number of attendees is strictly limited to 100 guests so I encourage you to advise Kate Hubbard of your interest as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

On a final note, on behalf of the Board and Membership of ICCPM, I would like to wish our Founding Member, Director and Fellow of ICCPM, Mr Tom Burbage all the best in retirement. Tom’s leadership and the support from Lockheed Martin has been a mainstay for investment in CPM and the establishment of ICCPM.  We look forward to continuing our work with Tom in his new life as well as his successors and our existing friends in Lockheed Martin.

As always, a special thanks to all of our partners and friends and we look forward to continuing the journey with you in 2013.

ICCPM EBook Series

The first of the EBooks to be published by ICCPM

ICCPM launched its first eBook on 14 January 2013, addressing ‘Ethical issues in Complex Project and Engineering Management’, written by ICCPM Associate Partner Revd. Michael Cavanagh.  The initial deliverable from ICCPM Research Project 4 regarding Project Complexity Assessment will be published in the same format in April 2013, followed in May by well-known author Nick Obolensky’s summary of his work on Leading Complex Projects.  A subsequent series of equally authoritative eBooks are lined up for publication throughout this year, all of which will be available to purchase through Amazon. 

The ICCPM series of eBooks are designed to be easily digested but stimulating reads.  We shall be building a library of resources, some of which answer specific problems and questions, whilst others will address more general subjects in the area of Complex Project Management – examples being systems thinking, root causes of complex project failure, and how to develop requisite leadership capability.  There will be many others, all of which will be firmly based on deep practitioner experience and reflection.  Our vision is that the eBook series will encourage dissemination of information and stimulate discussion around the whole issue of Complex Project Management, as well as increase awareness of the management approach such projects require.

If you are a project or program manager working in a complex environment with questions that you are having trouble finding answers for then we want to hear from you.  What are the problems you are facing?  What do you think is missing from the literature available on project or program management?  What aspects of complexity in program management would you be interested in reading about? The worldwide ICCPM community may have the answer in the pipeline, tailor an eBook towards your problem; or be able to work with you to create a solution.

Equally, if you have a solution to a problem, real frontline experience or want to put forward a topic you would like to explore more fully, please contact ICCPM eBook Project Manager Kate Hubbard or series editor Michael Cavanagh with a brief (~150) word summary and rough idea of timescale to produce a first draft.

Clean Energy Regulator

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) is the newest Partner of ICCPM.  We are excited to welcome them and look forward to working with CER in the future on the programs and projects they are managing.  The Clean Energy Regulator is the Government body responsible for administering legislation that will reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of clean energy.  They administer a number of market schemes that will assist Australia in becoming a low carbon economy.

The Clean Energy Regulator works with a number of stakeholders and clients including Australian Government departments and agencies, industry bodies, liable entities and the community to deliver regulatory services of the highest standard to support a clean energy future for Australia.​​​​​​

The partnership between Clean Energy Regulator and ICCPM will provide opportunities to work together to assist the regulator achieve their required outcomes for Australia.

Moving to clean energy is a complex delivery for a range of reasons including a wide variety of factors impacting on the program some of which include a possible change in government, multiple stakeholders, community interest, funding, and the potential shifting goalposts, just to name a few.  ICCPM aims to assist CER in working through these issues to get to a ‘greener’ Australia.

Maverick and Boutique Workshops

In early March Abby Straus and Dr John Findlay from Maverick and Boutique in the US came to Canberra and Brisbane to run two different workshops, a workshop facilitation for the Asian Century Taskforce from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and a seminar hosted by the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), open to all of our Partner Employees, as an overview of the workshops they were running.

During the visit John and Abby took some time out of their schedule to meet current students studying the Executive Masters of Complex Project Management/Strategic Procurement at the QUT campus in Deakin.

The one day workshops were Taming Wicked Problems and Making Sense of Complex Projects. Abby Straus facilitated Taming Wicked Problems, a hands-on workshop teaching participants about polarities: what they are and how to map them to improve performance and results over time. Wicked Problems are often polarities and cannot be solved but can be managed by understanding how to work within them to obtain the best outcomes and results. Polarities can include short term views and long term views, building relationships and getting results, competition or collaboration, supply chain management or strategic sourcing, for example. Participants learnt how to identify and map polarities and develop strategies for leveraging the benefits of both poles to provide performance and track it over time.

Making Sense of Complex Projects with a Complex Adaptive Operating System (CAOS) was delivered by Dr John Findlay. The CAOS framework is designed to help leaders of complex programmes understand how their operating systems (methods, structures, attitudes etc.) fit with emerging trends and how they might upgrade these systems to be better aligned with their preferred futures and outcomes. Participants learnt how and when to apply traditional and non-traditional approaches to PM to different aspects of projects and programmes, understand the CAOS framework and how to apply it in different environments.

Attendees to these events had this to say:

On the Workshop Facilitation: “John Findlay and Abby Straus from Maverick and Boutique recently facilitated our team’s planning day. Using Zing technology, they worked with us to help us ‘deep dive’ into the key complexities involved in the management of our project. John and Abby’s discussion questions and small group activities were specifically tailored to address our team’s objectives for the day. While intellectually demanding, the work carried out had immense practical application, was incredibly rewarding and increased the cohesiveness of our team.” Lily Dempster, Australia in the Asian Century Implementation Taskforce, Strategy and Delivery Division, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

On the Taming Wicked Problems workshop: "One of the best day's investment that I have made in a long time. This helped me immediately and changed the way I was looking at some project problems. I bought the book! I would definitely recommend it. "

On the seminar hosted by DMO: “Both the presenters were high calibre, suitably and substantially credentialed and also unique in their approach. Although only a quick taste of the available information it was very good.”

This was a successful visit and we are keen to bring John and Abby back to Australia in the future. In addition to facilitating workshops, John and Abby may be available for intensive one-on-one consultations. If you are interested in any of these offerings for yourself or your organisation, please contact Deborah Hein or Diane Hope to discuss your requirements. A list and summary of Maverick and Boutique workshops can be found here.

Systems Thinking and Complex Project Management Course

ICCPM, in conjunction with Queensland University of Technology (QUT), will be running a Systems Thinking and Complex Project Management three day course in Canberra from 3-5 July 2013.

The course is designed to introduce organisational leaders and core enabling staff to the concepts of complex project management and systems thinking. The course is not only suitable for experienced and aspiring program delivery leaders, but also for staff of complex projects and leaders of enabling functions who contribute to the success of complex projects. The course will benefit senior and aspiring project managers, key project management staff, commercial managers, supply chain managers, portfolio managers and key advisors, independent of sector or program type.

What will participants get out of it?

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Make sense of complex problems using soft systems methodology
  • Challenge project/problem boundaries and 'taken for granted' assumptions using critical systems heuristics
  • Use the viable system model
  • Understand organisational strategy and strategic alignment
  • Implement a complex program.

To register please visit our Public Courses webpage – registration for this course closes June 19. Please contact Diane Hope for more information on this, and other courses ICCPM has available.

ICCPM & IACCM Collaboration

ICCPM and IACCM propose to conduct a study to define the current state of alliances, including a list of the features of typical alliances, the problems created by alliances, and alliance trends. This will be a global exercise looking at both public and private sector alliances.

There is a rich literature exploring alliance contracts.  This includes exploration of the form of alliances, where they are used, what benefits are delivered, how alliance partners are selected, and the risks associated with these relational contracts.  The majority of the literature focusses on public sector alliances despite the emergence of alliances in private sector oil and gas projects.  More recently, we have seen a shift away from the use of alliances as governments and industry eschew higher risk projects, embark upon austerity measures/cost savings, and revert to more traditional contract bargaining in a post ‘Global Financial Crisis’ market.

Despite current economic conditions, a need remains for the delivery of high risk programs with demonstration of value for money in conjunction with a robust governance framework.  The alliance and other relational contracts are tools we can use to achieve these outcomes but what form of alliance is best suited for each project?  Many questions need to be answered so that procurement professionals understand how alliances work, where they should be used, and how they can be successfully implemented.

Research Projects Update

Literature Review and Digital Library on Complex Project Management (RP2)

ICCPM, CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology, University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney and Curtin University are collaborating to develop a Digital Gateway (DG) of materials on Complex Project Management and Complexity Research (CPMCR). Once established, the DG will become a core asset for ICCPM partners and Complex Project Management (CPM) researchers and practitioners.

The advantages of a DG centre on the quick and easy access to a variety of digital knowledge artefacts (for example, text and multi-media). The content is categorised and cross-referenced according to the Management of Complex Projects and Programs Framework proposed in the CPM Report, titled "Global Perspectives and the Strategic Agenda to 2025", released in 2011.

The DG on CPMCR will not replicate other repositories on CPM that have been available elsewhere in the world. Instead, the DG will focus on users experience by pointing them to the most useful references, after just a few clicks. Also, practitioners, such as Project and Program Managers, would be the prioritised customers/users of this DG.

A special characteristic of this DG is a search engine (developed by CSIRO) to allow users to search for the most useful and relevant information. This is how the CSIRO Search Engine would work:

“Having found a point of entry to the literature, or a relevant case study, or an email contact, the portal may then make use of summarisation and natural language processing technology to help members find their way around the information. For example, where one document cites another, our software can summarise the cited document with regard to the users’ context—so only the most relevant parts are highlighted. We may also consider, for example, using similar technology to automatically identify and highlight links between people and projects, projects and public reports, people and groups, etc. This again serves to make information more accessible, more useful, and easier to share.” (Paul Thomas – CSIRO, 2012).

Over time, with more and more use of the Digital Gateway, it will be straightforward to follow search patterns to uncover trends in the field; exciting new work; or which authors, institutions, and publications are of special interest to the ICCPM community.

We now have the very first version available for testing the relevance and usefulness of the DG. If you are interested in participating in the test or would like to more information about the Digital Gateway, please contact ICCPM

Contracting for Success in Complex Projects (RP3)

Business and governments today are enmeshed in a web of complex organisational communities where interdependence and co-dependency are the norm.  As a result of decades of outsourcing non-core organisational functions, and the specialisation of emerging organisations, no single entity holds all the pieces of the solution in a complex project.

Interconnectivity drives change and emergence that can have global effects. A traditional approach to ensuring value for money is obtained by promoting competition among suppliers may not be as relevant or useful in a market where several organisations hold part of the solution and need to be engaged in broader collaborations to deliver the required outcome.  Traditional adversarial approaches to contracting have been identified as an impediment to the development of effective collaborations and the delivery of long term benefits from complex projects.

This research project aims at documenting best practice acquisition and sustainment strategies in complex projects and programs. The research team has conducted a literature review, exploring project success factors and, conversely, features that lead to project failure. The literature review and other ICCPM research tasks have identified several recurring themes or attributes that lead to project success:

  • Clearly defined project goals and vision
  • Relationship/behavioural management
  • Prudent risk management and equitable risk allocation
  • An acquisition and sustainment strategy suited to the project at hand
  • A robust project management and systems engineering framework
  • Leadership and competencies of the team

In addition to these attributes the research team has identified another area which encompasses the environment.  This includes market cycles, depth and breadth of competition, regulatory frameworks etc. Whilst environment is typically considered as a constraint or issue, there is scope for managing the environment to deliver better outcomes.

These seven attributes appear to influence project success (and failure) more than others.  The next stage of the research is to conduct exploratory research to gauge the extent to which each element influences project outcomes through a survey of ICCPM and allied members.  This survey will encompass rankings of each attribute as well as open questions asking why the attributes are important and under what circumstances.  These results form part of an explanatory research phase to explore what projects or programs benefit from each attribute and during which phase of the project lifecycle. This will inform a better practice guide for managing complex projects and leverage from Research Project 2: Literature Review and Digital Library on Complex Project Management and Research Project 5: Measuring Project Success.

Complexity Assessment Tool (RP4)

There are many organisations around the world who deliver complex project or programs and often the level of complexity is not well understood. This understanding is important as it informs training, resourcing, investment requirements, project manager appointment levels, and the type of support that is required.

If complex projects or programs are to be successfully planned and managed, it is extremely important to understand the Complexity Assessment (essentially an additional component of a pre-project risk identification phase) at the earliest stages of the project lifecycle; on-going assessments maintain the currency of the analysis throughout, and are especially important when there are changes in team structures and composition, outcomes or external environments.

This project proposes to work with industry and government to develop an internationally recognised complexity assessment tool to support organisational investment decision making.

This research project is now nearing completion and the brief findings are as follows:

  • There is a fundamental difference between ’complicated’ and ‘complex’ projects, and this needs to be reflected in the management approach adopted.
  • Performing an assessment exercise is actually more important than the result obtained – it prompts an awareness of this difference between complicated and complex projects.
  • The Assessment should be based on three complexity indicators:  Organisational, Leader & Team competence; Project-specific complexity drivers; and ‘Gut feel’ – the intangible wisdom derived from experience.
  • Credibility has to be established – there is a degree of cynicism around anything that appears to be a new fad to sell consultancy.
  • The Assessment must be shown to add value; it must not be unduly onerous or resource intensive; and above all, it must be compliant with existing lifecycle management guidelines.
  • There are a number of existing assessment approaches, some of which actually measure the degree of complication rather than complexity. Others, while addressing the real issue, are quite comprehensive and difficult to justify unless there is an awareness of what ‘complexity’ actually is. Early lifecycle assessment can help with the justification of a more in-depth exercise, but it must be regarded as triage – and resist the temptation to be too detailed.  

There will be two deliverables from the project:

  • Publication of the ICCPM eBook ‘Complexity Assessment’ in April 2013.
  • An updated version of the existing PCA tool, allowing for self-assessment using an online questionnaire, available in May 2013.
Measuring Project Success (RP5)

This research has been exploring how we arrive at better metrics for complex projects, curating leading practice and taking into account the characteristics of the complex social systems which are a feature of many complex projects.  Conversations with SROs highlighted the relationship between the 'political sphere' and the 'delivery sphere' as one of the determinants of the choice of metrics which account for the things that matter - that is, metrics which both reflect and account for the multiple, sometimes contested, often tacit, perspectives of all the stakeholders.  We have extended this research to include the perspectives of current and recent Ministers and this is proving a very interesting, insightful line of inquiry, drawing, for example, on new thinking and practice on social value as well as how to create the conditions for better dialogue in contested spaces.

ICCPM Partner Team at Booz Allen Hamilton Honoured by NASA

NASA staff and members of the Booz Allen team receive the Civil Service / Contractor Team Award in Washington, DC

Members of the Booz Allen team who developed the Polaris™ tool for integrated cost and schedule risk analysis were honoured at NASA Headquarters in November 2012.  The team was awarded the Civil Service / Contractor Team Award for their collaboration with the NASA Cost Analysis Division in prototyping and benchmarking the tool.  Polaris is a recognized Complex Project Management (CPM) tool and is in use across multiple NASA Centres and US Government agencies.

Booz Allen Hamilton is an international partner of ICCPM, based in the US. They have offices around the world providing technology consulting and management services, especially to organisations dealing with complex projects or programmes.

Polaris provides a framework for integrating cost, schedule and risk using existing artefacts to produce a cohesive analysis.  It is compatible with most industry cost, schedule and risk tools using either export functions or standardized Excel and/or MS Project templates. Polaris provides a range of potential cost and schedule outcomes.  It uses Booz Allen’s RealTime Analytics technology to allow real-time analysis of trade-off scenarios based on a synthesis of cost, schedule and risk. RealTime Analytics (RTA) is a ground breaking technology that performs analysis that previously took hours in seconds.  When used together, RTA and Polaris provide a framework for portfolio/investment optimization.

The Polaris tool is available through ICCPM; please contact Deborah Hein for more information.

Request for Research Survey Responses

PhD student, Gabriela Fernandez, is conducting research as part of the Management School at the University of Southampton.  The research topic is "Improving and Embedding Project Management Practices in Organisations" and as part of this research she is conducting a worldwide survey on this topic and would value input from ICCPM’s members. 

The purpose of this study is to develop a framework to help organisations to improve and embed project management practices in an effective way. While the literature on PM provides some advice, organisations need guidance on what PM improvement initiatives should they concentrate their efforts. A related issue is how to facilitate the embedment of these PM improvement initiatives in a sustained manner.

This survey is divided into the following parts:

  • Part A – Key factors for improving project management practices
  • Part B – Key factors for embedding project management practices
  • Part C – Project management practices
  • Part D – Some characteristics of the respondent and respondent’s organisation.

The survey can be found here and further information can be found here.


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International Centre for Complex Project Management
Level 2, Equinox 3, 70 Kent St
Deakin ACT 2600 Australia
Phone: +61 2 6120 5110

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