Conquering complexity is a passion at Helmsman, and is fundamental to how we deliver sustained, tangible outcomes for organisations.

It’s in our DNA.

This commitment to delivering project performance is why we spent 9 years researching and analysing the impact and implications of complexity on over 1,000 projects worldwide.

Now this research is available as a ground-breaking project diagnostic. Our Project Performance Diagnostic helps:

  • Bring clarity on hidden issues that affect project performance
  • Distinguish the real issues from the ‘noise’
  • Determine the value in ambiguous or contradictory reports
  • Ensure the right resources and project sponsorship are in place
  • In defining when to intervene and best support the project team.

The Diagnostic was developed through research undertaken by Helmsman in partnership with the University of Technology Sydney. This was supported by broad industry participation and an Australian Research Council grant. By reviewing more than 1,000 projects, we were able to collect and statistically analyse a substantial set of data, and determine the critical factors that impact project success.

In distilling the analysis, we identified three drivers that need to be effectively managed to drive project performance. Complexity is one of these. The other two are the project controls and the competency of project team.


The Diagnostic looks at three key elements:

  1. Complexity Assessment – using the research IP developed, we defined a set of factors that measure project complexity. Just like the Richter scale measures earthquake intensity, project managers now have an objective way to measure project complexity. This offers guidance on what factors could be refined to reduce complexity.
  2. Recommended Controls – looking at comparable projects, the Diagnostic provides a set of recommended controls for the project.
  3. Controls Gaps – comparison with existing project controls highlights where project blind spots and risk may occur, enabling informed monitoring and response.

With the insights from the Diagnostic, project complexity can now be actively managed, appropriate controls established, and project team competencies clearly defined.

Helmsman/s Project Performance Diagnostic

By using objective research and analysis we can conquer complexity and help deliver consistent project performance, with all the benefits this brings to teams, organisations and society.


Complexity Conquered is Helmsman’s blog, focusing on understanding and managing significant and complex projects.


Helmsman are the experts in complex asset performance.  Our leading edge research into complex project management, carried out by the Helmsman Institute, identifies precisely what makes major projects and programs succeed or fail. From this, we have developed a suite of invaluable tools and services to assist our clients achieve performance outcomes in complex projects.