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System dynamics in project management: assessing the impacts of client behaviour on project performance

Abstract

The influence of client behaviour on a project is complex, including schedule restrictions on milestones, high demand on progress reports, delays in approving documents, and changes to workscope throughout the life-cycle. Quantifying these effects is important to project managers, in particular for effective communication with the client. Traditional planning and control tools have proved ineffective at providing quick and reliable information. Their tendency to incorporate more detail has increased their complexity, inhibiting practical strategic analyses. System Dynamics provides an alternative view in which these major influences are considered and quantified explicitly. This approach dispenses with much of the detail required by the traditional tools, but enables modelling of the systemic effects which traditional tools cannot model. The authors have developed a conceptual framework in which System Dynamics models are combined with traditional tools providing complementary support, and validated it in a large software project. This paper describes the use of this framework to assess and quantify the impacts of client behaviour. A practical example is discussed.

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Correspondence to A G Rodrigues.

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Rodrigues, A., Williams, T. System dynamics in project management: assessing the impacts of client behaviour on project performance. J Oper Res Soc 49, 2–15 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.jors.2600490

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Keywords

  • project management
  • system dynamics