Vulnerability of project management life cycle models failures and risks

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Vulnerability of Project Management Life Cycle Models: failures and risks

Carlos A. G. Fanha
BSc in Mechanical Engineering; MBA in Services;
MSc in Project Management – Oil & Gas student- University of Liverpool

A Project Management Life Cycle (PMCL) is as a sequence that encompasses five
processes in order to accomplish the project’s goal. These processes are the scoping, planning,launching, monitoring and controlling and closing. According to Wysocki (2012, p.38) there are
five different Project Management Life Cycle (PMLC) models, defined as Linear, Incremental,
Interactive, Adaptive and Extreme models. These five models are distributed in four quadrants
forming a continuum ranging from certainty about solution – where both the goal and solution
are clearly defined - tosome uncertainty about the solution - where goal is clearly defined and
the solution is not clearly defined - and finally to major uncertainty about the solution – where
neither the goal nor solution are clearly defined. The four quadrants are the Traditional Project
Management (TPM), the Agile Project Management (APM), the Extreme Project Management
(xPM) and the Emertxe Project Management(MPx).
Analyzing the vulnerability of the presented models in relation to failures and risks, one
could begin arguing about the close relation existing in between complexity and uncertainty
domain of projects and their probability of failure and degree of associated risks. The
complexity of a project can be a good indicator to the project manager (PM) in defining the
best fit PMLC modelapplicable to the project. Complexity is correlated to the four PM
quadrants models and as project complexity increases the PMLC travels from the TPM – less
complex - through the APM, xPM and finally to MPx models – most complex. Considering that
complexity and uncertainty are positively correlated to one another, as projects become more
complex they become more uncertain (Barki, 2001, p.40). Thesame applies to risk. Project
risks increase as the project falls in TPM, APM, xPM and MPx categories considering the fact
that in the solution is less known, indicating a strong necessity of more management effort in
risk monitoring and controlling (Wysocki, 2012, p.325, p.329). Another important issue has to
do with the probability of project failure which is associated to what extent there isprevious
experience with the identified risks and its assessment.
The Linear PMLC project types, where both goals and solutions are clearly defined, as
plan-driven and sequentially process conducted, present least complexity and least
uncertainty. Consequently they are the least vulnerable of all PMLC models and have the
smallest probability of failure and risks. In this category, theconstruction of a residential
building where the design is the same and a previous project had already taken place in
another location, would be a good example of a project using this type of PMLC model. The
mitigating strategies to these project types - considering the occurrence of failures - are the
application of conventional risk management process, which encompasses: identifying,
assessing,mitigation and monitoring of associated risks. Since these are repetitive projects,
using the history of risks and lessons learned from previous projects would be a good
The Incremental PMLC, associated to the TPM quadrant, have the same characteristics
of the Linear PMLC model, with the difference that it considers the release of deliverables in a
more aggressive schedule. This kindof project associated risks of failure are higher than the
Linear PMLC model since, in a certain way, each increment would introduce a greater number
of tasks and consequently increase the probability of failures to occur. An example of a project
Vulnerability of Project Management Life Cycle Models: failures and risks
using the Incremental PMLC could be the construction a complex of...
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