“If I categorized and studied the correlations between all the factors (state variables) of project performance, then I could control and optimize the project’s performance, but gathering and computing this information would take too long, and the project portfolio’s state would change before I could interpret it.”
When we consider the many facets of enterprise project management we can quickly see we need a different way of examining the forest instead of analyzing each tree. Due to the lack of a standardized approach, the popular approach is to divide the various disciplines such as Risk Management, Resource Management, Project Management, Portfolio Management, Capacity Planning, Scheduling, and Finance and then approach each facet separately.
This approach while informative, lacks the ability to study the correlations and inter-relationships between each state variable and combinations thereof. This makes impact change analysis impossible at a macro level.
Looking at these facets holistically, as a single system, instead of a plethora of independent factors, and applying systems thinking to management questions and business objectives, we gain real insight and performance improvement.
First, we must list and categorize these factors. Lots has been done in this area, but we continue to grow this effort. Where it will stop, no one knows as mankind produces more and more innovative practices.
Secondly, with this categorization underway, the study of inter-relationships and performance correlations between the different categories can produce meaningful results. New macro-level policies and procedures can be put in place. Improvements to project portfolio performance begins. Management Techniques are defined and new intuitions developed.
Finally, when we begin to understand these correlations, we can apply effect-cause-effect thinking, identify and break performance constraints leveraging systems thinking.
At pmNERDS, the Center of Excellence is all about promoting and moving this practice of applying systems thinking to project management at all levels in the organization.