Project Categorization and Assessment Utilizing Multivariate Statistical Techniques to Facilitate Project Pattern Recognition, Categorization, Assessment and Pattern Migration Over Time


By Bob Prieto


Princeton, New Jersey, USA


Disclosure: One or more of the concepts, techniques or methodologies described in this paper are protected by various patents and/or service marks pending. Owners and clients interested in discussing any of these concepts further should contact the author.

Large scale projects, especially capital construction projects, are notoriously difficult to manage.  Project managers, or other stakeholders, require techniques to quickly assess a current state of their project and to better anticipate likely performance trajectories.  Ideally, project managers would be able to quickly compare their project against historical projects or known best practices in order to benefit from the wealth of prior experience that exists.  Unfortunately, there are very few techniques currently available to project managers that allow them to recognize the project’s state as being similar to circumstances related to other projects.

The Opportunity 

This paper focuses on understanding, categorizing, assessing and monitoring a project based on consideration of a large number of project values in order to create a pattern definition analogous to a “picture” of the project. The concept described herein is the subject of a patent filing and as such enjoys all the protections of that process.

The picture created through consideration of a large number of project values is then compared with other similar pictures and like pictures are similarly grouped and categorized where each category has certain common descriptive features and by extension some reasonably anticipated project attributes. This project picture may be retaken over time (the project lifetime, potentially including its operating phase) and its strength of correlation with its initially assigned group measured (is it more or less similar to its original group).

Changed Characterization 

Over time it is possible for a project “picture” to suggest that the project should be otherwise categorized. This may result from one of two circumstances.

The first would be a significant enough change to the project “picture” over time such that it no longer ideally fits in the originally assigned group. Such reclassification would suggest that the project has different common descriptive features and attributes and suggests changed areas of management focus and attention and new project areas of interest. This migration of project type allows the project manager to understand the nature of change that the project is experiencing and to seek out insights from better fitting project archetypes.

The second instance which might drive project reclassification would be the result of changes in the composite library of all project pictures such that groupings or the definitions of their characteristics changed as sample size grew. Such changes in the composite library, ultimately, will allow for more precision in project characterization at early project stages including at the conception and initial project planning stages when various execution options may be under consideration.


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About the Author 

flag-usabob prietoBob Prieto 

Senior Vice President


Bob Prieto is a senior vice president of Fluor, one of the largest, publicly traded engineering and construction companies in the world. He is responsible for strategy for the firm’s Industrial & Infrastructure group which focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide. The group encompasses three major business lines including Infrastructure, with an emphasis on Public Private Partnerships; Mining; and Industrial Services. Bob consults with owner’s of large engineering & construction capital construction programs across all market sectors in the development of programmatic delivery strategies encompassing planning, engineering, procurement, construction and financing. He is author of “Strategic Program Management” and “The Giga Factor: Program Management in the Engineering and Construction Industry” published by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) and “Topics in Strategic Program Management” as well as over 450 other papers and presentations.

Bob is a member of the ASCE Industry Leaders Council, National Academy of Construction and a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America. Bob served until 2006 as one of three U.S. presidential appointees to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), working with U.S. and Asia-Pacific business leaders to shape the framework for trade and economic growth and had previously served as both as Chairman of the Engineering and Construction Governors of the World Economic Forum and co-chair of the infrastructure task force formed after September 11th by the New York City Chamber of Commerce.

Previously, he established a 20-year record of building and sustaining global revenue and earnings growth as Chairman at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), one of the world’s leading engineering companies.  Bob Prieto can be contacted at [email protected].