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System Dynamics

The traditional network model represents the project as a linear series of discrete activities. While many organisations may aspire to this model of project management practice, the reality is usually very different. System dynamics offers an alternative perspective with an emphasis on feedback and the softer features of project management. One classic problem in project management is the “90% syndrome”: a project is repeatedly reported as 90% complete and the forecast completion date steadily recedes into the future. There are many reasons for this difficulty in clearly identifying the remaining work, as illustrated in the figure below. System dynamics provides a method of making these difficulties more explicit, and more manageable. Traditional models support the project manager in the detailed operational problems within the process, while system dynamics models provide more strategic insights and understanding about the effectiveness of different managerial policies. The two approaches provide complementary support to project management; this suggests it could be of major value to integrate the best of both worlds.


System dynamics in project management: a comparative analysis with traditional methods

Rodrigues A, Bowers J (1996), System Dynamics Review Vol 12, pp.121-139.

The role of system dynamics in project management

Rodrigues A, Bowers J (1996), International Journal of Project Management Vol 14, pp.213-220.

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