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Five inspirational insights from award-winning projects

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Starter packs pay. So too does transparency in crisis situations. Here are a handful of lessons from APM’s 2018 award winners.

  1. Dyson has learnt lessons from NASA about structuring early-stage project research

APM Project Management Company of the Year 2018 Dyson explained during this year’s awards process that it uses NASA’s Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) as it develops new projects, a type of measurement system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology. There are nine technology readiness levels, ranging from one – the lowest, in which scientific research is just beginning – to TRL nine, the highest. Once a technology has been ‘flight proven’ during a successful mission, it can be called TRL 9, according to NASA.

The system is said to enable Dyson to help deliver an expanding product range to market. The vacuum cleaner manufacturer also won plaudits from APM for having an almost equal gender split between male (48%) and female project managers (52%) and for having grown its cohort of project managers from seven six years ago to 70 today.

  1. GCHQ boasts one of the largest IT systems in the world

Another great insight from this year’s APM awards programme: the floor space of the government agency’s main data centre in Cheltenham is said to be the size of a football pitch, the APM judges heard. There, GCHQ runs many projects it just “can’t talk about”: happily, the Licence to Operate scheme which scooped the overall programme prize for 2018, is an exception. Licence to Operate enables the agency to comply with the government’s Investigatory Powers Act 2016 legislation that allows its 6,000 staff to collect data lawfully. Stakeholders for the project included the Home Office, Foreign Office, intelligence partners, law enforcement and the military.

  1. ‘Starter packs’ can work anywhere, from banking to kids entering foster care

Nationwide Building Society won Social Project of the Year for a scheme run in conjunction with Swindon Borough Council to provide children entering foster care with comfort bags, including a toothbrush and toothpaste, toys, colouring books and crayons, shampoo and book tokens. The methodology for the project was based on the Nationwide Change Framework – typically used by the building society for delivering internal transformation projects with “pace and agility”.

  1. Happy project managers make for ‘Easy-Peasy’ project management

Two project managers at Ella’s Kitchen, known as the ‘Smoothly’ team, established the Easy-Peasy Project Management Academy to train colleagues as part of their development of APM PMO of the Year. Ella’s Kitchen, a brand that develops healthy food for babies and small children, had grown rapidly and needed new product development projects to be run by an experienced team. The product development process now runs much more smoothly, with a “happier team” the result of the development of the academy, says chief executive Mark Cuddigan. That’s been recognised by The Sunday Times, which lists Ella’s Kitchen as one of its 100 Best Companies to Work For.

  1. Transparency pays when undertaking crisis infrastructure projects

Storm Desmond wreaked havoc across Cumbria in December 2015, leaving nearly 20,000 properties without power, and 8,000 homes, 600 bridges and 2.5km of carriageway damaged. Mott MacDonald and Cumbria County Council have worked closely together to restore infrastructure to full functionality in the wake of the storm. Their combined efforts as part of a £123m, four-year Infrastructure Recovery Programme scooped APM’s prestigious Mike Nichols Award for Inspiration. Storm Desmond affected thousands of people, but the programme won the hearts and minds of locals and the project teams, the judges said. Cumbria County Council and Mott MacDonald developed a relationship founded on “collaboration, openness, honesty and transparency at every level”, adds Stephen Hall, assistant director, highways and transport at the council.

Meet the winners of the latest APM Project Management Awards here.

Image: Pavel Vinnik/


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