Modern Project Management

(ISSN: 2317-3963)

Risk Managing Complex Projects through Alliancing

Derek Walker
RMIT University, Melbourne - Australia Australia


Complex projects are characterised by not only known risks that present challenges in integrating technical and human related interface issues but also by uncertainty about unknown unknowns and ambiguity about that which is assumed to be known but is indeed a potential source of confusion.

How best to establish a project delivery approach for these types of projects? We know from government reports, audit office reports, academic research and often personal experience that typically such complex projects are delivered late and well over budget? Surely, there must be a better way to deliver complex projects.

One project delivery approach that has generally offered a great deal of promise to managing risk, uncertainty and ambiguity is through the use of alliancing. This paper draws upon evidence from government reports, academic studies and a wide body of risk management and project delivery theory to illuminate this issue and to suggest a way forward.

Several key points are drawn in this paper:

  1. Alliancing is not a panacea for managing any complex projects there are some important pre-conditions that need to be met and these are discussed further in the paper;
  2. Where alliancing has been used in both Australia and New Zealand it has been successful in delivering in terms of time/cost/quality as well as in delivering many intangible benefits, these delivery benefits are also briefly discussed;
  3. Alliancing requires additional skill sets, knowledge, personal attributes and experience of participants and this is perhaps the most important issue facing the future of alliancing and similar project delivery firms that are evolving from alliancing; and
  4. Australia and New Zealand lead the world in this form of project delivery.

A short section concludes the paper.

Keywords: project management, complex projects, alliances.



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