Program Complexity

There are many different types of programs.  A program manager who is competent to manage an easier, less complex program may not be competent to manage a harder, more complex program.

GAPPS has developed a tool for categorizing programs based on their management complexity.  This is called the Aitken-Carnegie-Duncan Complexity Table for Evaluating Roles: the ACDC for short. The tool, named after three GAPPS contributors who played major roles in its development, is used to differentiate program manager roles based on the management complexity of the program.

The ACDC provides a mechanism for matching competency to need by identifying the factors that affect the program manager’s challenge.

The ACDC includes 29 detail factors arranged into 5 groups. Each factor is rated from 1 to 4 using a qualitative point scale, and the factors are totalled to produce a management complexity rating for the program. Each of the factors is given equal weight when evaluating the management complexity of a program.

The ACDC Program Complexity Table considers 5 aspects of complexity:

  • Governance Complexity
  • Stakeholder Relationship Complexity
  • Program Definition Complexity
  • Benefits Delivery Complexity
  • Resource Complexity


A summary of the GAPPS ACDC Complexity Rating Tool for Programs

The full GAPPS  ACDC  Complexity Rating Tool for Programs

Ratings using the ACDC table may go from a low of 29 (one on every factor) to a high of 116 (four on every factor). GAPPS has divided this overall range into three subsidiary ranges that reflect increasing levels of program management complexity:

ACDC Levels
Level ACDC Score Percent of Programs
1 29-40 ~20%
2 41-75 ~70%
3 76-116 ~10%