Design complex projects

This unit covers planning and development of projects which may be reasonably complex in terms of scope, degree of risk, political, cultural and social factors that apply, consequences of failure and degree of control of the projects. It includes identifying project opportunities, undertaking scoping, analysing the feasibility of projects, developing project plans and managing the establishment of projects. Contract management requirements are not included as this aspect is addressed by units of competency within the Competency field of Procurement and Contract Management.In practice, designing complex projects overlaps with other generalist and specialist work activities such as acting ethically, coordinating resource allocation and usage, developing client services, undertaking research and analysis.No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Identify project opportunities and undertake scoping

1.1 A critical analysis of the need for a project is conducted in accordance with organisational policy and procedures.

1.2 A project definition study is undertaken, where necessary, to determine the scope of the project.

1.3 Project scoping is completed in accordance with organisational policy and procedures and identifies a rationale for the project that includes the purpose, outcomes/expected benefits.

1.4 Stakeholders are identified and canvassed to ensure that their requirements are addressed in project planning.

2. Analyse project feasibility

2.1 Research and analysis is undertaken to identify impacts and risks, constraining factors and alternate options.

2.2 Technical feasibility, supportability and cost effectiveness of the project are analysed and the outcome is reported to key stakeholders.

2.3 Alternatives for project design are assessed and a preferred option that fits the strategic direction of the organisation/work unit is identified and reported.

2.4 Relevant specialists are consulted to determine the extent of financial, technical, security, scheduling, whole-of-life support and probity, and other risks.

2.5 A business case is prepared and approvals to proceed with project development are obtained in accordance with organisational policy, procedures and guidelines.

3. Develop project plans

3.1 Project aims, objectives and impacts are defined in the project plan, and timeframes and resources to complete quality deliverables on time and within budget are identified.

3.2 Projected outcomes are recorded in measurable and achievable forms and indicators to monitor the performance of the project are developed and agreed by relevant parties.

3.3 Potential risks are investigated and identified in the project plan and a risk management process is established to analyse information and options to manage risks.

3.4 Skills, roles and responsibilities of team members and stakeholders are clarified and agreed, and reporting requirements are identified.

3.5 Management of project parameters is addressed in the project plan and evaluation criteria are designed in accordance with organisational policy and practice.

3.6 Project management tools are utilised for planning in accordance with project requirements and the project is designed and documented in consultation with specialists to meet user requirements.

4. Manage establishment of project

4.1 If required, stakeholders are lobbied in accordance with organisational policy and procedures, to negotiate endorsement for the project.

4.2 Terms of reference are written and agreed to by stakeholders and resources are obtained in accordance with organisational procedures to establish the project.

4.3 Project scope and objectives are reviewed and analysed, and a strategy is developed to establish work breakdown structures to implement the project.

4.4 Project infrastructure is identified and established in accordance with organisational policy and procedures.

4.5 Specialist and technical support relevant to the project is obtained in accordance with the project plan.

4.6 Project governance structure and processes are established as detailed in the project plan.

Required Skills

This section describes the essential skills and knowledge and their level, required for this unit.

Skill requirements

Look for evidence that confirms skills in:

using project planning techniques related to projects that may be reasonably complex in terms of scope, degree of risk, political, cultural and social factors that apply, consequences of failure and degree of control of the projects

detailing requirements, writing recommendations and preparing plans requiring precision of expression

negotiating timelines, roles and responsibilities with stakeholders and team members

scheduling project activities

communicating with stakeholders using a range of communication styles to suit different audiences and purposes

responding to diversity, including gender and disability

using project management tools suited to planning reasonably complex projects

applying risk management techniques in project establishment including risk sharing and transfer

using public relations strategies to promote and gain endorsement for projects

including workplace safety issues in project planning requirements

accessing/preparing information electronically or in hard copy

Knowledge requirements

Look for evidence that confirms knowledge and understanding of:

legislation, organisational policies and procedures that may impact on the project and management of the project, for example:

public sector codes of ethics/conduct

occupational health and safety and environmental and sustainability requirements

project governance requirements

financial management requirements

quality standards

risk management


human resources

equal employment opportunity, equity and diversity principles

project planning methods which may be reasonably complex in terms of scope, degree of risk, political, cultural and social factors that apply, consequences of failure and degree of control of the projects

project management tools suited to planning reasonably complex projects

principles relating to the planning phase of project management

the project specifications

market capability

resource plans

project approval processes

scheduling packages

cost schedule control systems

integrated logistics support

work breakdown structures

change management in the context of designing complex projects

Evidence Required

The Evidence Guide specifies the evidence required to demonstrate achievement in the unit of competency as a whole. It must be read in conjunction with the Unit descriptor, Performance Criteria, the Range Statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Public Sector Training Package.

Units to be assessed together

Pre-requisite units that must be achieved prior to this unit:Nil

Co-requisite units that must be assessed with this unit:Nil

Co-assessed units that may be assessed with this unit to increase the efficiency and realism of the assessment process include, but are not limited to:

PSPETHC501B Promote the values and ethos of public service

PSPGOV502B Develop client services

PSPGOV503B Coordinate resource allocation and usage

PSPGOV504B Undertake research and analysis

PSPGOV505A Promote diversity

PSPGOV507A Undertake negotiations

PSPGOV512A Use complex workplace communication strategies

PSPPM502B Manage complex projects

PSPPM503B Close complex projects

PSPPROC502A Establish contract management arrangements

Overview of evidence requirements

In addition to integrated demonstration of the elements and their related performance criteria, look for evidence that confirms:

the knowledge requirements of this unit

the skill requirements of this unit

application of the Employability Skills as they relate to this unit (see table Following for examples)

complex projects designed in a range of (3 or more) contexts (or occasions, over time)

Resources required to carry out assessment

These resources include:

legislation, guidelines, procedures and protocols relating to project planning and management

workplace project documentation

scenarios and case studies

examples of project management tools

Where and how to assess evidence

Valid assessment of this unit requires:

a workplace environment or one that closely resembles normal work practice and replicates the range of conditions likely to be encountered when initiating projects, including coping with difficulties, irregularities and breakdowns in routine

complex projects designed in a range of (3 or more) contexts (or occasions, over time)

Assessment methods should reflect workplace demands, such as literacy, and the needs of particular groups, such as:

people with disabilities

people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people


young people

older people

people in rural and remote locations

Assessment methods suitable for valid and reliable assessment of this competency may include, but are not limited to, a combination of 2 or more of:

case studies







simulation or role plays

authenticated evidence from the workplace and/or training courses

For consistency of assessment

Evidence must be gathered over time in a range of contexts to ensure the person can achieve the unit outcome and apply the competency in different situations or environments

Range Statement

The Range Statement provides information about the context in which the unit of competency is carried out. The variables cater for differences between States and Territories and the Commonwealth, and between organisations and workplaces. They allow for different work requirements, work practices and knowledge. The Range Statement also provides a focus for assessment. It relates to the unit as a whole. Text in bold italics in the Performance Criteria is explained here.

Critical analysis may include:

internal and external environment scan

political imperatives

previous and current related projects

policies likely to be impacted

cost-benefit analysis

Policy and procedures may include:

government legislation (Federal, State and Local) affecting organisation's administration such as:

public sector management acts

financial management and accounting legislation and regulations

privacy legislation

environmental/sustainability legislation

government and organisational guidelines and procedures relating to:

project governance



strategic plans


risk management

procurement guidelines

designation approvals

industrial agreements

Stakeholders may include:

project sponsor/funding bodies

clients or customers (internal and external)


other agencies

general public

relevant interest groups


functional areas

the organisation's senior management


project team

steering committee members

end user

supplier/service provider

Constraining factors may include:










logistical support


Whole-of-life support may include:



technical data




packaging, handling

storage and transportation

support and test equipment

computing support

Approval may be required from:

project sponsor

business owner of the project

program manager

line manager

specialist project management office

chief executive officer, manager or management representative

funding body

customer or client

Project plan will include some or all of:

acquisition strategies

budget and financial management strategy

contract management

cost estimates

evaluation criteria

expected outcomes/measurable benefits of the project


inclusions and exclusions from project

information/communication strategy

intellectual property strategies



outputs/project deliverables and their acceptance criteria

people plan including human resource management and human resource development

performance criteria/indicators

project control mechanisms

project implementation strategy

project governance strategy


quality assurance

quality control

quality standards for project


required project resources

resource management

risk management

roles and responsibilities


task/work breakdown structure (WBS)

Risk management may include:





Management may include:

risk management

schedule management

financial management

communication, including reporting

resources management

logistics management

scope management

change management

quality management

people management

procurement management

occupational health and safety management

Project parameters include:

project scope - outcomes, objectives, project deliverables


skills required for project team

people required for project including specialist expertise

communications including reporting requirements

risks associated with project including people, environment, resources, technology change during the life of the project, if applicable

steering committee arrangements

timeframe and milestones


resources for project


organisational structure for project

project quality control and operational flexibility

project governance structure

monitoring through staged rollout

project delivery requirements

pilot outcomes

intellectual property

integration of project within organisation

transition arrangements

change management

project evaluation

Project management tools may include:

risk analysis

organisational project governance framework

communications plan

reporting framework

project management software and other tools:

Gantt and bar charts

Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) charts

Critical Path Method

cost schedule control system

logistics support analysis

life cycle cost analysis


recording systems - electronic and manual

Documented information may include:

reports detailing strategy

statement of requirement/work

industry development proposals

project plans

resource plans

project team work plans

risk and issues plan and log

performance evaluation criteria

reports to industry

whole-of-life support proposals

project definition study

Relevant specialists may include:




other functional areas

other relevant agencies


Work breakdown structures may include:

how the work is to be performed and how cost and schedule data are to be tracked and reported

identification of the project tasks (deliverables)

identification of specific management responsibilities for tasks

Project infrastructure may include:

staffing levels/need for recruitment action and training

equipment and technical support

resource requirements including travel, finance etc

project office accommodation

management infrastructure


Not applicable.

Competency Field

Project Management.

Employability Skills

This unit contains employability skills.

Licensing Information

Not applicable.