Systems Approach to Project Management

3758 Words16 Pages
All projects need simple processes in place to monitor and control cost, progress and quality. It is argued, however, that projects involving innovation and complexity, almost regardless of size, need a “systems approach” to project management. Discuss.

1. Introduction

This literature review will discuss Project Management and the apparent need for a systems approach when managing projects involving innovation and complexity compared to using a simple process. In order to conceptualise the discussion, the construction industry will be used to provide a framework for Project Management.

This literature review will firstly outline the context demonstrating the importance of the construction industry to the UK economy.
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* The contractual relationships formed through construction contracts enforce accountability; this rigid bureaucratic structure does not allow the organic nature of innovation to flourish (Walker 2007). * The internal conflicts that come to light when people operate or react to information according to their human needs (Dainty and Green 2007). * The skills of the Project Manager to be able to solve the complexities of interdependent interrelationships in order to meet the client’s objectives (Pryke and Smyth 2006). * The effective application of the systems approach to Project Management in order to add value for the client (Egan 1998; Latham 1994).

2.1 Simple Processes and Systems Approach

Atkinson (1999) details the simple processes in order to monitor and control cost, time and quality; this is known as “The Iron Triangle”. It is a structured way to measure project success but it has not lived up to the complexity of the construction industry. Atkinson argues that projects need to go beyond simple processes to be successful (Walker 2007; Atkinson 1999).

Ackoff (1974) states taking a systems approach consists of three elements, these make up the whole that can be divided into parts, but must be viewed together. * Firstly, the behaviour of each element affects
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