As I think through explaining complexity of a program to a client, I came up with an interesting way to assess the complexity of a program. The program complexity tool shown above helps determine how a new program stands on multiple dimensions of complexity.
One of the elegant features of the complexity assessment tool is that it produces a complexity profile which helps to visually depict the overall program complexity. The level of program complexity may have a significant bearing on the level of funding, resource allocation, and approved timing and schedule targets of the delivery effort. Additionally, it contributes to sharpening the focus of attention on the elements of highest complexity in order to reduce risk and ensure that they are appropriately managed.
The value of the above tool is multifold. Senior Managers/Directors can use the tool to help balance a portfolio of programs with an appropriate mix of low-to high complexity programs. It also helps them determine the level of skill and experience needed for the program manager and other key roles on the team to successfully define and execute a program.
Program Managers can utilize the tool to identify key risk areas for a program - high complexity usually means higher risk. In the example above, any program element shown as a complexity level of 3 or 4 should be evaluated in terms of risk to the program. The complexity information contained in the tool can also be utilized by program managers to develop and justify the amount of schedule and budget contingency needed for the program in order to increase the probability of success.
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