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RP3: Contracting for Success in Complex Projects

Read the Outcomes Paper

This Research Project is now complete.

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.


Access the presentation slides used by Dr John Davies at the IACCM Annual Australasia Forum, July 2014.

Download the Final Outcomes Paper

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