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Author: Dr.Joseline Edward, PhD

Project Management is not new. It is as old as we are. The projects such as the great pyramid of Giza, a monumental structure and Architecturestructures during Greek & Roman era shows that people were using project management many years ago. They might not use the latest and greatest tools we have today, but that shows that they have used some sort of mechanism to complete their projects.

Organizations regardless of their size perform projects. These projects are planned, executed and controlled to realize the business objectives. This might be to develop a new product or new service or to develop a new business or to meet Legal needs or even to address social problems. In simple terms, we can classify projects into two categories. One is short term projects and other is long term projects.

In general, short term projects require few resources and most likely get over within a year. The company might get immediate cost saving by implementing this type of projects. One example would be an IT project which would be launched to reduce automation errors 5 percent within a calendar year. On the other hand, long term projects, typically take more than a year; they will require more resources and create more cost saving over a period of time. An example would be implementing a business intelligence system to predict customer buying pattern.

Now let's go back to your question? How many projects can a manager handle? Does it depend on the duration of the projects? Or does it depend on the experience of a project manager or does it depend on the organizational structure? I would say it mostly depends on the complexity of the project? Why? Let's discuss now.

It's very difficult to define the term complexity. Let us go back to the original Latin word complexus, which signifies "entwined", "twisted together". This may be interpreted in the following way: in order to have a complex you need two or more components, which are joined in such a way that it is difficult to separate them. Project complexity can be classified into two types such as Technical complexity and Management complexity. An example of technical complexity is the situation of being unable to reuse existing code when developing (or adding) new functionalities when developing IT projects. Similarly, an example to management complexity would be a situation where the objectives of implementing the project are not clear, high customer impact can also be treated as a business complexity.

More complexity brings more uncertainty. More uncertainty means that more planning, co-ordination and more communication are needed to complete the project on time under a stipulated budget. A general rule of thumb is that managers spend 80% to 90% of their time to communicate. Hence, I would say that the number of projects a manager can handle depends on the complexity of the project. Even though organization structures, experience of the manager play a role when allocating projects. Project complexity is the most important factor that needs to be considered when assigning more projects to a project manager.

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About the Author

Joseline Edward is founder and CEO of Lucas Project Management Consulting Company which is offering 60 days PMP and CAPM Prep courses and Mock Up exams online. We provide the required training, including all the materials needed to prepare for the exam. Free mock up exams included to evaluate your readiness. Enroll Now Don't give up your Career Aspiration! Discover the manager in you. Check out the URL for more details.


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