Crafting and Implementing Project Execution Strategies by Dr John Davies


Lecture Theatre North (LT11/12) UNSW Canberra

9.00am to 5.00pm

Dealing with complexity is a key challenge with system acquisition becoming more interdependent with other capabilities (existing and emerging), rapid technological advancement, and greater emergence associated with end-user needs. To cater for complexity we need to ensure our project management approach caters for requirements emergence, technological uncertainty, and multiple stakeholder needs. The seminar begins with an overview of complexity, challenges associated with traditional approaches to dealing with complexity, and best practice approaches for dealing with complex projects. For those that wish to explore this topic in more detail, the second part of the seminar explores some of the key issues in depth through the use of workshops.

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Part 1: 0900-1200


  • What is Complexity? - Definitions, attributes, acquisition versus system boundaries.
  • Why do business as usual approaches fail to deliver value in complex projects?

Risk Management

  • Risk and uncertainty in complex projects
  • Risk allocation versus risk sharing
  • Early industry engagement
  • Collaborative approaches to risk management
  • Dealing with optimism bias

Selecting and Implementing Project Execution Strategies

  • A comparison of business as usual approaches
  • An overview of the key success factors of complex projects
  • Goal alignment
  • Positive relationships
  • Prudent risk management and allocation
  • A well-crafted Project Execution Strategy
  • Robust systems engineering and project management
  • Leadership
  • Implementing Project Execution Strategies
  • Dealing with multi party contracts and multiple contracts
  • Linking the Project Execution Strategy to the system development lifecycle
  • Driving the right behaviours
  • Governance and accountability
  • Off-ramps
  • Collaborative contracting arrangements

Part 2: 1300-1600

Workshops and Detailed Exploration of Project Execution Strategies


  • Public versus Private sector governance
  • Understanding constraints, motivations and drivers
  • 'best for program' issues
  • The importance of 'self-regulation'
  • Joint governance arrangements

Workshop - In this workshop we will challenge some of the assumptions that joint governance arrangements and risk sharing between the public and private sector are unworkable. A case study of alliance arrangements will be undertaken to examine governance constraints and how to deal with conflicts of interest and conflicts of duty.

Risk Management

  • Risk attitudes
  • Negotiated risk transfer approaches
  • Risk and Remuneration

Workshop - In this workshop we will examine a performance based contract to explore how remuneration strategies can create unintended consequences. In particular, we will explore how customers and suppliers can 'game the system'.

Project Execution Strategies in Depth

Strategic supplier selection

  • Incorporating gate reviews
  • Preserving 'trade-space'
  • The problems with templates
  • Relationship contracting
  • Dealing with disputes and issues

Workshop - Cobb's paradox states that "We know why projects fail, we know how to prevent their failure - why the do they continue to fail?"

What strategies can we employ to ensure success in complex projects?

Conclusions and Wrap up