Project Complexity

As with any other field of endeavour, some projects and programs are inherently harder to manage than others. A practitioner who is competent to manage an easier, less complex endeavour may not yet be competent to manage those that are harder and more complex.

GAPPS has developed an approach to categorising projects based on their management complexity. The GAPPS framework uses a tool called the Crawford-Ishikura Factor Table for Evaluating Roles, or CIFTER. The tool, named after two major contributors to GAPPS, is used to differentiate project manager roles based on the complexity of the projects managed.



The CIFTER identifies seven factors that affect the management complexity of a project. 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 project.  This was used as the basis for development of two levels of Project Manager Standards, G1 and G2. G1 is a moderately complex project and G2 is a very complex project. Anything that scores below a G1 is considered to be a simple project. Such a project would be considered too simple to be used as evidence of competence as a project manager against the GAPPS Project Manager Standard. These simple projects are excellent opportunities for giving new project managers safe projects to run, learning and practicing their craft.

The CIFTER Table also provides a useful basis for categorising projects and therefore selecting the appropriate Project Manager based on their demonstrated competence.

The CIFTER factors identify the causes of project management complexity. For example, in some application areas, a project manager’s ability to control project costs is considered to be the primary factor in determining competence. The CIFTER provides a mechanism for matching competence to need by identifying the factors that affect the project manager’s ability to control costs.

Download the  GAPPS Project Manager Standards which includes the full CIFTER: