Are your projects in the correct quadrant?


Does your company group all projects together, perhaps considering them all to be equal? This may lead to a costly mistake.


Most project components usually consist of the usual cost, time and resources approach. This is fine and quite correct. However, this oversimplified perspective may not take into account the following four project dimensions :


  •  Size

  •  Technical difficulty

  •  Uncertainty

  •  Complexity


Overlooking even one of the above could send project performance adrift very rapidly.  The challenge may occur when organisations move out of their usual activities and seek ways to diversify, grow, implement performance improvement initiatives or take on more challenging work and invest in product development.


A very simple matrix can be used to help position projects, preferably at their conception.





























Although the text within each of the quadrants are simple examples, what the matrix hopefully demonstrates is the density of PM effort required, depending on the projects categorisation. The two extremes are hopefully self-evident.


Apart from being able to assign a PM of the appropriate calibre with a budget to facilitate hands-on immersion, the above can help with:



  • Management reporting requirements (detail, quantity, format….)

  • Company risk management

  • Foresight on resource variances

  • Correct pricing in quotation


The calibre, capability and experience of the PM assigned to projects in different quadrants can be critical. Continually, assigning an experienced technically and commercially strong PM in a routine project could lead to boredom, distraction and a lack of attention. Placing a technically challenging project with high uncertainty in an administrative process may end in disaster.


In addition, applying the above matrix can help with resource management. To help increase the margin on the project, it may be worth considering if it can be delivered by the operational process, almost negating the need for PM support? This would require some detailed risk assessment but could help optimise cumulative delivery of standard projects.



Simple recommendations :


  • Assess potential projects at proposal stage.

  • Propose an execution methodology that aligns with the project complexity and uncertainty.

  • Propose, assign and price for the appropriate PM to safely execute the project.

  • Do not try and cut corners on a PM support for “Risking it all projects” or identified complex projects. This can be a high risk strategy compounding an already identified risky project.

  • Consider process optimisation to reduce operational expenditure on “paint by numbers” projects.


There is a danger in trying to replicate process optimisation for “Risking it all” projects. Because of the nature of these projects, they may become out of control if not regularly maintained with a hands-on immersed PM.