“Smooth seas don’t make for skillful sailors.”

Why are we referring to this proverbial quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt in a blog that revolves around complex project management?

To put things in perspective, project managers can see complex projects either as an overwhelming challenge or as an opportunity to showcase their efficiency and ability to thrive in difficult situations. 

Today, when remote work is the new normal, project managers have to quickly find a way around small and big obstacles to deliver projects on time and within budget. 

So, how complex projects are different from straightforward, typical projects?

Read on to know more about it. 

What Is A Complex Project? 

Do you consider a complex project and a difficult project as one and the same thing? If yes then you’ve got it all wrong. 

It’s important to understand how both are different. 

A project can be difficult due to factors such as cost or performance, but this doesn’t necessarily make for a complex project

A complex project is characterized by unpredictability and ambiguity. Some common indicators of a complex project are: 

  • Involvement of various teams and stakeholders
  • Dynamic interfaces and significant political or external influences
  • Inability to pre-evaluate actions
  • Rapid rate of changes in every stage
  • Several interdependencies and interconnections 
  • Budget/restraints 

While some projects are complex from the onset, even seemingly well-planned and straightforward projects can lose their plot and morph into something that they were not supposed to be in the initial stages. 

That said, amid all the uncertainty and challenges surrounding complex projects, there are some tried and tested strategies to simplify complex project management. Let’s dig deeper and find out more about it. 

How To Tackle And Simplify Complex Projects With Remarkable Ease 

1. Use a robust project management software

First things first, you would need to invest in robust project management software that offers all the right tools on a single platform. A survey by PWC discovered that project management software boosts performance and 77% of high-performing projects use project management software

A PM software ensures that all team members are on the same page, and seamlessly collaborate on tasks and projects. Project managers get to use features like Kanban boards, Gantt charts, Time tracking, Task Management, etc, which enables them to monitor individual performance as well as the project progress and make adjustments to the project timeline when required. 

2. Bring clarity to your project goals continuously

You should remember that if you and your team are unclear of the “why” behind your project then you cannot be successful. When your team knows what drives your project, they are likely to be more proactive in offering their ideas to the table. As a project manager, you should delegate tasks with clearly defined goals so there’s no confusion regarding job responsibilities. 

Project managers should take the responsibility for continuously clarifying project goals so team members have a clear picture of what they are working towards, why, how it will be accomplished, and how they are going to benefit (individually and group-wise) from successful project completion and delivery. 

3. Assess the project progress at regular intervals 

Many projects fail due to a lack of regular assessment and monitoring on the project managers’ part. They set goals, assign tasks, and only check in with teams when the project deadlines are nearby. If the project is not progressing as per set expectations, it gets too late to expedite things to ensure timely project delivery. 

So, project managers should analyze the project progress at regular intervals to find out what’s working and what’s not while they are in the middle of the project. If they come across any snag, they can make changes in time so that the project stays on track. Taking remedial actions in the concluding stages makes it difficult to impact the final results. 

4. Prioritize your tasks

Managing complex projects means you have to prioritize tasks to avoid spending valuable time on things that are of not much importance. You should categorize your tasks (urgent, important, less important, not important) and start working on high-priority tasks first. Set up deadlines or time estimates for each task, and hide less important tasks so that you are not distracted by them as you work on high-priority tasks. 

This approach will help you and your team to utilize time efficiently by working on tasks of high importance first. You’ll also be able to discover tasks that are of low or no importance so that your team doesn’t waste time on them. Also, by finishing urgent tasks first, your project has more chances of timely completion and delivery. 

5. Embrace flexibility

Complex projects are highly unpredictable; changes can occur at any time. No matter how carefully you plan your project, it will change. Therefore, project managers should embrace flexibility and implement changes to cater to clients’ requirements, or you risk losing them. 

Plan for both potential and unexpected hiccups early on and have a Plan B in place. Make sure all communication lines within the team are open so that important issues are discussed on time and no information goes unchecked by team members. Your team should be trained adequately to handle and respond to changes smoothly.  


Complex projects call for taking a different approach that you would take to manage typical projects. Complex projects are highly unstable, which means you have to be on your toes all the time to tackle unprecedented changes in project plan. 

Most of your challenges can be dealt with efficiently if you use the right project management software with all the right tools in a centralized location. This will give you greater control over your projects and teams as you navigate and monitor complex projects at every stage. 

Author Bio:
Nandini Sharma is the Assistant Marketing Manager at ProofHub. Nandini brings close to a decade of experience in the field and has successfully executed a number of brand-building and marketing campaigns throughout her career. A specialist in the field of marketing, Nandini is well-versed with technical know-how, and always stays on top of the latest trends in the digital world. You will find her constantly putting marketing strategies into motion with perfection. Over the years, she has triumphantly created a wide base audience on a number of popular online platforms. When she is not busy penning down out-of-the-box marketing ideas, she can be found channeling her creativity into art and craft activities.