The Project Complexity Assessment Tool

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Project complexity relates to the scale, scope and novelty of the scheme. Different approaches to managing the work will be needed depending on the complexity, and this also affects the support and advice a project needs.

Project complexity can be estimated across many different measures but the table downloadable below focuses on a small number of indicators to help gauge this.

When some or most of the outcomes are toward the higher complexity measures, then more focus needs to be made on structured project planning and on competent commercial, technical and managerial support.

It is often true that the greater the project complexity then the greater risks and uncertainties that come with it. This means that more consideration needs to be given to contingency planning and risk management. It is also advisable to look to ‘critical friends’ on the scenarios that should be planned for. Looking for lessons to learn from similar projects is a sensible activity.

As a project progresses and develops, the assessment of complexity should be kept under review to reflect emerging issues. If necessary the project should be ready to change the management approach to reflect, and control, any increased risk.

Where there are indications from this basic tool of higher levels of project complexity then it is a good idea to carry out a more formal review using an established more thorough complexity analysis tool and actions taken on the findings

Further Information

See the National Audit Office Delivery Environment Complexity Analytic (DECA) as an example of a deeper complexity assessment tool.