Team Complexity – The Underestimated Factor

Most people would agree to say that an IT project is complex if it has to cope with difficult technology and a challenging business context.
But it is not just technical complexity that threatens the success of a project. Team complexity is an important and often underestimated factor that highly affects the likelyness of success and failure of IT projects.
Even if you have a simple technical problem to solve, it can get much more complicated if you do it with a complex team.
The main problem is that effective communication is very hard to achieve with complex teams. But effective communication amongst the stakeholders, developers, business and operations is one of the key success factors for IT projects. Thus having a team with low complexity reduces risk and increases efficiency. But why is this often not recognized? I think the reason is that dynamic effects are hard to measure and invisible most of the time.
Inspired by the article Projects fail due to dynamic complexity (German) written by Prof. Dr. des. oec. HSG Stefan Grösser I thought about common factors that affect team complexity and therefore dynamic complexity.
To create more awareness in terms of those factors and make the subject more tangible I’ve created the Team Complexity Calculator. Its a fun tool that can be used to get a better idea of how those typical factors affect team complexity. It does not produce absolute results, so please don’t take it too serious. ;-)
If you know additional factors that affect team complexity, please let me know.

Those factors are based on experience I’ve made in projects ranging from small to very large sizes.

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