Contemporary methods for evaluating complex project proposals


Management Department Bentley University, 175 Forest Street Waltham, Massachusetts, USA


The ability to evaluate project proposals, assessing future success, and organizational value is critical to overall
business performance for most enterprises. Yet, predicting project success is difficult and often unreliable. A four-year
field study shows that the effectiveness of available methods for evaluating and selecting large, complex project
depends on the specific project type, organizational culture, and managerial skills. This paper examines the strength
and limitations of various evaluation methods. It also shows that, especially in complex project situations, the
decision-making process has to go beyond the application of just analytical methods, but has to incorporate both
quantitative and qualitative measures into a combined rational judgmental evaluation process. Equally important, the
evaluation process must be effectively linked among functional support groups and with senior management in order
to strategically align the project proposal and to unify the evaluation team and stakeholder community behind the
mission objectives. All of this requires leadership and managerial skills in planning, organizing, and communicating.
The paper suggests specific leadership actions, organizational conditions, and managerial processes for evaluating
complex project proposals toward future value and success.