Application of the systems approach to defining major projects for successful implementation
Despite advances in project management techniques and greatly improved levels of experience in managing major projects, a significant number of these projects still experience serious problems during implementation resulting in unacceptable loss of functionality with related cost and schedule growth, and sometimes outright cancellation. Research has shown that major contributors to these problems are systematic and can be associated with project size, complexity, technical uncertainty, schedule duration and urgency, physical and social environment, and government and politics. Several authors advocate that the application of systems problem solving methods and techniques during project definition could resolve these systematic problems and should be used to augment traditional project management approaches. This research is concerned with bringing together two important models, one concerned with traditional project definition (the Morris Model) and the other concerned with systems engineering (the M'Pherson Model), and harmonising the result with other systems methods and techniques to form a comprehensive model (to be called the MM Model) for defining major projects for successful implementation. The Morris Model is introduced in Chapter 2 as part of a study into the nature of major projects and what makes them successful or problematic. As part of the study, a compendium of project success criteria is compiled for later testing of the MM Model. Chapter 3 concentrates on discovering how systems methods and techniques, including those that can be categorised under the soft systems banner, could be used in project problem solving. The M'Pherson Model is introduced during the path through the Chapter. An important step in the early life of a project is the approval stage. If decisions regarding a project's viability are to be meaningful, appropriate information for gooddecision making must be generated during the project definition. Project approval is the subject of Chapter 4. The MM Model for project definition is formulated in Chapter 5 and tested firstly against the compiled compendium of project success criteria and, secondly, against three careful selected case studies; British Rail's Advanced Passenger Train, Thames Water's London Water Ring Main, and the Rolls Royce RB 211 Aero-engine. The first case study represents a cancelled project, the second a highly successful project, and the third a project that experienced extreme problems but resulted in a highly successful product. Finally, in Chapter 9 the author provides a reader's guide to the formulation of the MM Model, discusses the extent to which the objectives have been achieved, the contribution to knowledge and possible areas for further work.