Infrastructure projects are complex and involve multiple stakeholders, from engineers and architects to construction workers and project managers. To ensure the success of these projects, it's crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the problems and goals associated with them. Problem analysis and goal analysis are two essential techniques for identifying the key issues and objectives of infrastructure projects.
In this article, we will explore problem analysis and goal analysis in the context of infrastructure projects. We will discuss how these techniques can help you identify the root causes of problems and establish clear and achievable goals. We will also provide practical examples of how to apply problem analysis and goal analysis in real-world infrastructure projects, as well as tips for selecting the right tools and frameworks for your needs.
Whether you're working on a small-scale infrastructure project or a large-scale urban development, this article will provide you with valuable insights and strategies for conducting effective problem analysis and goal analysis. By leveraging these techniques, you can enhance your project management skills, improve your decision-making process, and increase the likelihood of project success.
The identification of the project implies the existence of obstacles to development in the relevant field, which can be successfully overcome through the development and implementation of the project. The primary sources of infrastructure projects should be national, regional, and local development strategies, plans, and programs.
In developing these documents, critical issues for the region should be identified by applying a systematic approach to development issues and methods of SWOT analysis and STEP analysis.
In the end, the project is a consequence of identifying essential problems in the development of the region.
What is Problem analysis
Problem analysis (situation) identifies the downsides of the existing situation and establishes the cause-effect relationship between the current problems.
Problem analysis includes:
- Precise determination of the framework and object of analysis;
- Problem identification;
- Ex-ante evaluation of the relative importance of the problems;
- Further analysis of problems;
- Determining the interconnections between problems;
- Illustrating problems as a diagram.
The main problems that the target groups and beneficiaries face are identified, and a list of problems is drawn up.
The identified problems are evaluated in terms of the discrepancy between the desired and the actual state. Some assessment of their importance is made, and they are prioritized. Priority problems are identified, which should be addressed further.
Each high-priority problem is subjected to a more detailed analysis to identify related problems. The result is a list of existing (not future or potential) problems associated with each priority issue.
It should be borne in mind that the problem is not a lack of solution, but an existing negative state. Further information on a more detailed analysis of the issues can be gathered through interviews, stakeholder discussions, and direct observations.
The brainstorming method is used to analyze further the problems, which is an appropriate tool for collective participation in project development. The rules governing a brain attack are as follows:
- Initial accumulation of proposals without having to argue;
- Further development, complementarity, and enrichment of the generated proposals;
- Elimination of similar proposals;
- Minimize proposals to a predetermined quantity.
Usually, the method has the greatest effect when applied during a stakeholder meeting (who knows the situation).
Determining the interconnections between problems
Determining the interconnections between problems is done using the analytical technique tree of problems to establish the cause-effect relationship.
The analysis is presented in the form of a diagram, which at the top shows the effect/consequence of a particular problem, and at the bottom - the conditions that cause it. The analysis aims to identify the real obstacles that participants prioritize and try to overcome.
The problem tree
The problem tree is based on the understanding that they are hierarchically dependent. Each problem is both an effect, a consequence of a problem below, or a cause of a problem. The task is to find a place in the tree of problems identified in a brain attack.
The central (focal) problem is placed in the center of the tree. The substantive and direct causes of the focal problem are placed parallel to it (problems causes), and the significant and direct effects of the focal problem are parallel to it (effects problems). Problem causes and problem effects develop in the same way to form the problem tree.
The cause and effect chains of the problem (the main problem and the problem caused by it) are shown vertically.
At the same horizontal level, some problems are not interconnected and are equally distant from the underlying problem.
When completed, the problem tree gives a complete picture of the existing negative situation.
The problem tree is constructed as follows:
The major problems are identified;
- A central problem (problem focus) is selected;
- Looking for problems that are related to the problem focus;
- A hierarchy of causes and effects is created: the problems that are the direct cause of the problem-focus are placed below, and they form the "root" of the problem tree;
- The problems that are the direct consequence (result) of the problem-focus are placed on top and form the crown of the problem tree;
- All other problems are added - problems-causes and problems-effects develop in the same way to form the tree of problems;
- Problems are related to cause-effect arrows;
- The chart is reviewed for validity and completeness.
The tree of problems helps to identify them, but it gives no idea of their relative importance. Therefore, further assessment and identification of the most important issues is needed. The analysis of the problem ends with the discovery of the causal relationships characterizing the central problem and the determination of the relative importance of the causes giving rise to the focal problem.
A Problem tree is just an analytical tool
As an analytical tool, the problem tree has its limitations. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between causes and effects. Complex problems can lead to complex trees that make it difficult, rather than aiding understanding. However, it is always possible to define clearly enough a part of a common set of problems.
Goal analysis is the next step in identifying the project. The results of the analysis of the environment, stakeholders, and problems are used to formulate the objectives of the project.
Goal analysis is a methodological approach used to:
- Description of the situation in the future when the problems have already been resolved with the participation of the parties concerned;
- Checking the hierarchy of goals;
- Illustrating Link Means - Results In Chart.
The goal tree analytical technique is used for the purpose analysis. The goal tree defines desirable future states (related to problem elimination) at all levels of the problem hierarchy revealed through the problem tree.
The negative elements of the problem tree are transformed into solutions defined as positive achievements. These positive achievements represent goals and are presented in the form of a "goal tree". The problem tree is transformed into a goal tree, and the problems are re-formulated into positive expressions (goals).
The central problem is also transformed into a goal. This is usually the immediate goal of the project. Working from the bottom up, the cause-effect relationships (from the problem tree) are transformed into means-goal relationships (in the goal tree), and the corresponding connecting lines are displayed, reflecting the connections.
There are clearly three levels of goals in the goal tree:
- Overall Goals - Top-level objectives to which the project contributes (they will not be achieved only with the implementation of this project);
- Project Purpose - The goal that will be achieved with the implementation of the project;
- Results - a direct product of the activities undertaken within the project.
The goal diagram often shows goals that cannot be achieved by the proposed project and should be addressed by other projects. Some goals may be unrealistic, necessitating finding other solutions or abandoning attempts to find a solution.
In conclusion, problem analysis and goal analysis are essential techniques for infrastructure projects. By identifying the root causes of problems and establishing clear and achievable goals, you can enhance your project management skills and increase the likelihood of project success. Effective problem analysis and goal analysis require a deep understanding of the project context, stakeholder needs, and available tools and frameworks.
In this article, we explored the benefits of problem analysis and goal analysis for infrastructure projects, provided practical examples of their application, and shared tips for selecting the right tools and frameworks. We hope that this information will help you conduct effective problem analysis and goal analysis for your infrastructure projects and improve your project management skills.
Remember, every infrastructure project is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. By tailoring your problem analysis and goal analysis approach to your specific needs and context, you can achieve better outcomes and make a positive impact on society.
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