Understanding project interdependencies: the role of visual representation, environment and process

Catherine P Killen / Cai Kjaer

Project portfolio management (PPM) is central to many organisations' strategic processes and requires consideration of multiple factors and inputs and the ability to envision alternative future consequences to support strategic decision making. Complex project portfolios with multiple project interdependencies are characteristic of many project environments, yet existing methods and tools do not provide the clear understanding of project interdependencies that is required to support strategic project portfolio decision making. The exploratory research reported here introduces a new type of visual representation and provides insights into the factors affecting an organisation's ability to understand project interdependencies. Visual project mapping (VPM), the creation of graphical network displays of projects and their interdependencies, is shown to provide benefits by supporting communication and strategic portfolio decision making. The research also highlights the importance of the environment and the processes, and indicates that they work together to improve an organisation s understanding of project interdependencies.