Wednesday 16 March 2022

Logical-structural approach in Project Management


The logical-structural approach (LSP) in project management is little known in our country. At the same time, it is very effective in all phases of the project life cycle, especially in the identification, development and monitoring of the project and is widely used in a variety of projects carried out by many international, governmental, commercial organizations. For example, LSP is the official methodology for project management in organizations such as the World Bank, UNICEF, USAID, TACIS, etc.

This approach is not opposed to other modern methods. It is a holistic methodology, contains the main well-known methods and effectively complements them in a number of important aspects of project management, in particular, paying special attention to such issues as:

  • Clear definition of the goals and content of the project based on a comprehensive analysis of the problems to be solved, taking into account the main conditions for implementation, the interests of the parties involved, as well as the risks and hypotheses inherent in the project;
  • Adoption of clearly expressed, quantitatively and qualitatively measurable indicators of the success of the project (program);
  • A clear and unambiguous definition of what the manager, members of the management team and other participants should be responsible for in the process of achieving the set objectives and why;
  • Highlighting the key elements of the project and determining their relationship, so as to facilitate analysis, implementation and evaluation;
  • Shifting attention in the evaluation of the project from the question "who is to blame?" to the question "what is the most realistic course of further work?".

In most organizations, the LSP procedures, forms and content of documents used are very detailed and integrated into the overall processes of project development and implementation, using well-known project management methods. At the same time, LSP as a whole or its individual components can be applied several times during the various stages of project development and implementation. It should be noted that in different organizations various structuring of work, terminology, forms of documents related to the development and implementation of projects are often used. For example, documents on the development of projects that are similar in content and purpose can be called the Project Proposal, the Project Preparation Report, the Feasibility Study, etc. Despite these discrepancies, the following main stages of the LSP can be distinguished [1-7]:

  • Stakeholder analysis.
  • Problem analysis.
  • Target analysis.
  • Formulation of the main assumptions and risk factors.
  • Determination of indicators of progress in implementation and the degree of achievement of project goals.
  • Drawing up a logical and structural scheme of the project (LASS).
  • Further development of the project.
  • Project management system.
  • Monitoring, reporting, evaluation of the project.

1. Stakeholder analysis.

 Includes the identification of individuals, groups, organizations whose interests the project may affect, the identification of their main key problems, conflicts of interest, limitations and opportunities (institutional analysis).

The tasks of this stage are solved by studying the available materials, conducting additional research, contacts and discussions with stakeholders.

One effective method of stakeholder analysis is to conduct a brainstorming business meeting in which key stakeholders participate. At such a meeting, it is possible to discuss the problems faced by stakeholders in the focus of the project, to consider issues, for example:

  • What do you (planners) need to know? Who has the relevant ideas and experience?
  • Who will make decisions on the project?
  • Who will act on these decisions?
  • Whose active support is essential to the success of the project?
  • Who is eligible?
  • For whom the project will be beneficial, can pose a threat?
  • One of the significant factors in the success of the project is the behavior and potential of the organizations involved in the project.

In order to analyse the participation of each of the organizations interested in the project, an institutional assessment may be undertaken, the tool of which is the SWOT analysis, by conducting a study of the organization on four aspects:

2. Problem analysis. 

At this stage, the formulation of problems, the definition of their cause-and-effect relationships and the construction of a tree of problems are carried out.

A problem tree is simply a hierarchical arrangement of problems. To build it, it is important to involve key stakeholders. Of the pre-formulated problems, each participant in the analysis is invited to choose one as the central one, i.e. such a problem that he considers the center of the whole problematic situation, and to submit his proposals in writing.

In its initial choice of a central problem, each of the stakeholders will be guided by its own interest in the project and its own problems. An example is a project supported by the World Bank (more precisely, IBRD, the main organization of the World Bank) to support and reform urban public transport in a number of cities in the Russian Federation. From the point of view of the heads of transport enterprises of the participating cities, the primary problem is the acute shortage of vehicles, and from the point of view of federal and local authorities, the inefficiency of the entire system of organizing the work and financing of urban public transport, including the problems of beneficiaries, insufficient efficiency of urban public transport enterprises, etc.

The full range of central issues should be discussed until agreement is reached on one central issue. It will be the starting point for building a problem tree.

When considering the second problem related to it, proceed as follows:

  • if the problem is the cause, it is placed a level below.
  • if the problem is a consequence, it is placed a level higher;
  • if the problem is neither cause nor effect, it is placed on the same level.
  • As the tree grows, the remaining problems are added to it according to the same principle Re-analysis of problems can lead to the appearance of another central problem at a later stage, which, however, does not reduce the validity of the analysis.

3. Analysis of goals. 

Based on the constructed problem tree, a tree of project goals is built, the achievement of which will solve the identified problems. At the same time, the following levels are distinguished (names in district organizations may be different):

  • Overall objective(s) is the objective of the higher-level project(s) to which the project is intended to contribute.
  • Project objective(s) is the contribution of the project to the achievement of the overall objective by using the results of the project.
  • The results of the project are the significant output products that the users of the project will receive after its completion.
  • The actions are required to convert resources into project results.
  • For example, in the World Bank project for the development of the Unified State Real Estate Cadastre:
  • The overall objective (the goal of the higher-level project, to which this project is intended to contribute) is to improve the business environment, to improve the management of the public sector.
  • The purpose of the project (the contribution of the project to the achievement of the overall goal by using the results of the project) is to promote the development of the real estate market, improve the quality of the work of the Cadastre Service.
  • The results (what users will receive) are faster and better processing of information flows.
  • When formulating goals, it is important to ensure that:
  • Reality is the possibility of achieving within the framework of given resources and limitations (financial, physical, temporary, etc.).
  • Certainty is the condition that the goals of the project are achieved through the project, and not for other reasons.
  • Measurability is the ability to quantify at an acceptable cost of funds and effort.
  • It is important to clearly delineate goals, results and actions and accordingly define the areas of responsibility, in particular, of project managers. Their definition is based on their manageability on the part of the project manager(s), which in turn depends on the assumptions inherent in the project and its inherent risks. The project manager(s) is responsible for the efficient use of resources and the achievement of results and cannot be held directly responsible, for example, for the use of the services provided by the project. But it can monitor the associated risks and assumptions for a certain period, and then it makes sense to include the need for said monitoring in the formulation of the project results. Example. In one TACIS project to promote higher education, the project manager is responsible for the outcome of the project in the form of "the acquisition of knowledge by trainees" instead of simply "organizing courses" or "training 200 participants". The same should be done when formulating the objectives of the project. Their achievement involves the use of project results by recipients who are beyond the possibilities of direct control by the project management. But it must monitor the assumptions and risk factors involved.

Actions and required resources in conducting LSP are defined in aggregate in the form of the main components of the project and resource groups and their detailing is carried out in the further development of the project.

At this stage, closely related goals are grouped together and the question of including them in the content of the project is decided.

After analyzing the goals, the project should be ready for detailed planning as a result of which it may be necessary to clarify the previously adopted formulations of goals, resource actions.

4. Formulation of the main assumptions and risk factors. 

For the successful implementation of the project and the evaluation of its results, it is important to clearly formulate the main assumptions and risk factors that are beyond the control of the project management and can have a serious negative impact on the implementation of the project. Analysis and development of appropriate countermeasures is carried out by known methods of risk analysis

Examples of assumptions in the project include:

  • Effective cooperation with the partners on the project.
  • Conducting the recruitment of adequate staff, locally and from abroad.
  • Return trained employees to work in the project.
  • Appropriation of the relevant budget.
  • Creation by the government of certain prerequisites defined by the strategic investor.

5.Determination of indicators of progress in implementation and the degree of achievement of project goals.

In order to effectively manage the progress of the project and to assess the extent to which its objectives have been achieved, it is necessary to identify appropriate indicators, methods and sources of information for their measurement. Indicators are required to reflect such characteristics as quality, quantity and time.The selection of indicators is carried out in four stages, for example:

  • Definition of indicator: improvement in education.
  • Indication of quality: an increase in the number of university graduates graduating from graduate school in relevant specialties.
  • Indication of the number: an increase in the number of university graduates graduating from postgraduate studies in relevant specialties, from up to 1000 to 1500.
  • Time reference: by 2010, the number of university graduates graduating from postgraduate studies in relevant specialties will increase from 1000 to 1500.
  • Care should be taken to ensure that the selected indicators are linked to specific goals, so that they truly indicate whether the goal has been achieved or not. It is necessary that those who are engaged in planning and those who implement the project have the same idea of the goals.

In organizations that have extensive experience in implementing projects, lists of recommended indicators are developed for projects that are similar in content.

6. Drawing up a logical and structural scheme of the project (LASS). 


Based on the results obtained at the previous stages, a logical and structural scheme of the project is compiled. It is presented as a table with four lines and four columns. In the left column are located at the top down the general goals, project goals, results, actions. In the next column from left to right- indicators of achievement, respectively general objectives, etc., in the third - methods and sources of measurement of indicators and in the latter are located the main assumptions and risks. It is recommended to first fill in the first and fourth columns, and then the second and third.

The LSS provides a concise and easily visible view of complex projects, their objectives, the main components and relationships between them, the resources required, the assumptions and risks important to the success of the project, and the identification of the responsibilities of project managers. The LSS is the basis for the further development of the project, and the second and third columns, in particular, are used to build a monitoring and evaluation system for the project. Graphically, the LSS and the principle of its filling are as follows.

7.Further development of the project. 


After drawing up the LOSS, you can proceed to further development of the project, which will be a detailed description of the decisions taken in the development of the LSS. Traditional issues of project planning are solved here, such as drawing up work schedules, determining the necessary resources, developing budgets, determining the characteristics of the effectiveness of the project (economic, commercial, etc.), determining the sources and methods of financing, designing organizational management schemes, developing procurement plans, choosing risk management methods, etc.

When solving these issues, methods and approaches well known in national and international practice are used, such as drawing up various aggregation structures of necessary work, scheduling, methods of budgeting, determining the effectiveness of projects, risk management methods, etc.

The scope and detail of the development are determined by the nature and scale of the project, as well as the regulatory documents for the development of projects adopted in a particular organization. For example, in organizations that finance relatively small projects, the volume of planning documents is usually not large. This can be an application for investment, often in a free form, an investment proposal, a project concept, a business plan, a feasibility study. In the case where large-scale and complex projects are financed, planning covers a wide range of aspects and requires a lot of effort. The approaches taken, in particular for investment projects, are based on well-known UNIDO methodologies and relevant national and corporate guidelines.

8. Project management system. 

The project management system is formed in the early phases of the project life cycle and is largely determined by its subject area, scale, composition of participants, and environment. For large and medium-sized projects, a multi-level management system with a division into strategic and operational management is characteristic. At the same time, strategic management is usually carried out by the highest levels of departmental, corporate governance or specially created Coordination Councils, especially in the case of complex projects with a large number of participants. Operational management is carried out by the Project Management Group (PMU). Among the organizational solutions used for the STATE Unitary Enterprise, the following can be noted:

  • Use of consultants (consulting companies).
  • Transfer of the functions of the PMU to one of the existing units of the implementing organization or a higher body in addition to their existing responsibilities. In this case, various options for matrix organization of project management can be used.
  • Creation of a new structure with administrative subordination to one of the leading participants of the project.
  • Transfer of the functions of the PMU to another GUP, which already conducts projects of a similar nature and has the necessary experience.
  • Separation of the functions of the PMU between the executing department (subdivision) with the assignment of functions related to the content of the project and one of the current and experienced SUEs with the assignment of specific management functions to it.

9. Monitoring, reporting, evaluation of the project.

Project monitoring is given special attention and is carried out at all levels of project management, and independent experts can also be involved. The processes of procurement and expenditure of funds and the compliance of the planned project objectives with the current situation are subject to particularly strict control.

When building a monitoring system, they proceed from the objectives of the project, the structure of work, the indicators of achievement of goals defined in the LOSS, the indicators of implementation of specific measures to eliminate previously identified problems, etc. The frequency of control and reporting depends on the level of management, the state of the project, its nature and for the projects under consideration can vary from once a week to once a year. Various forms of reporting are used, containing the main financial and physical indicators defined in the logical-structural scheme, work schedules and expenditure of funds. In addition, the progress of the project is regularly reviewed through joint discussions by key stakeholders, an assessment of the status of the project and the development of plans for further action.

Measures to manage the progress of the project may range from joint efforts to resolve problems encountered to changes in project objectives (project restructuring) or premature closure and cancellation of unspent funds, in case of inexpediency of further continuation of the project.

One of the means of monitoring the preparation and implementation of the project is to conduct regular evaluations of the project, usually after the end of preparation, in the middle and after completion. The main goal is to determine the compliance of the state of the project with its goals. At the end of the preparation of the project, an independent evaluation helps to determine the validity of the project objectives and the correspondence of the level of development to the selected objectives. Interim evaluations provide an opportunity to determine whether the project objectives remain relevant and whether the status of the project is consistent with those objectives. After the end of the project, the evaluation determines the degree of achievement of goals, the main problems of implementation, analyzes the main causes of these problems, formulates recommendations for future projects of a similar nature. Evaluations are carried out by special units of lead project participants on the basis of monitoring documents, additional studies or special missions.

Different criteria are used in the evaluation. Thus, in the EU organizations, such criteria as adequacy, economy, productivity, efficiency, impact, economic and financial viability, self-functioning are used. More generalized criteria may apply. For example, in the World Bank, when reviewing the project portfolio, indicators are used: implementation rating, goal rating, overall efficiency [8]. Based on the assessment of these indicators, each project is assigned one of the rating values: satisfactory, unsatisfactory, extremely unsatisfactory.

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