Putting projects central

People like to discuss the pro’s and con’s of different models of project management and product/service development. Often they do so with much animo. Sometimes even with some fanatism. These discussions put models in the centre of attention. Just take a look at different conferences, seminars, discussion groups … Often the central theme is a specific model.
It would be nice to see that, as a community, we exhibit the same enthousiasm in discussing project differences. What characteristics make one project different from another?Which different classes of projects can we identify? What does this mean in terms of different approaches? This would put projects in the centre of attention. After all most of us are in the business of delivering projects, not models.

So, how do we differentiate projects? Many factors exist: size, technology, culture, novelty, and many more. We identify, two key differentiating factors – business uncertainty and user involvement – and projects are grouped into four project archetypes:

  • Routine projects: Implementation of standard service or product or routine performance improvements
  • Development projects: Development and delivery of non-standard products or services
  • Discovery projects: Potential breakthrough innovation of products or services or process
  • Sensitive projects: Development of technology or large infrastructure or large organisational change

Each project archetype has its own set of challenges that requires its own unique approach:

  • Routine projects require increasingly efficient delivery of quality;
  • development projects require the co-ordination of experts and the management of risk;
  • discovery projects require dealing with unknown unknowns; and
  • sensitive projects require ways to deal with possible conflicts between the stakeholders.
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