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Government variations on a project management theme

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Interesting how some key ideas around project management have resonated recently in a number of government-related strategies and action plans.

The Governments new Construction Strategy aims to reduce procurement costs by up to 20% by the end of this parliament. Central to its argument is that the public sector should act as the type of intelligent client advocated by APM Honorary Fellow Sir Peter Gershon, whether in writing or live at APMs 2010 Conference.

Infrastructure UK identified potential savings of 2 bn - 3 bn per annum from reducing the costs of delivery of the UKs economic infrastructure projects and programmes in its Cost Review. Amongst other elements, its subsequent Implementation Plan highlights the need for good practice in grouping projects into more efficient longer-term programmes with clear outcome based objectives, whilst repeating the refrain of developing intelligent commissioning capability.

By the same token, Sir Roy McNultys Report on Realising the potential of GB Rail identifies the opportunities available from implementing a whole system programme management framework which includes a portfolio of enhancement programmes aligned with a clear industry strategy; a clear problem statement and sponsor role; early evaluation of a comprehensive range of possible solutions; formalised stakeholder management; and so on.

And so the music goes on: for example, a number of the challenges identified by Sir Peter Gershon at the conference last year are explicitly recognised by the Governments ICT Strategy. Acknowledging that government projects tend to be too big, leading to greater risk and complexity, and limiting the range of suppliers who can compete, it states the expectation that from now on SROs will stay in post until an appropriate break in the life of a project / programme.

In terms of good practice, much of all this may sound familiar.

Perhaps whats different today is the clearly orchestrated intent to actually make it happen.


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  1. Adrian Pyne
    Adrian Pyne 21 June 2011, 10:33 AM

    Andrew is right to highlight the importance of an "intelligent client", especially in the public sector. A recent BBC "File on 4" special on PFI contracts claimed that many PFI contracts had so much "fat" in them that there is now an active secondary market. Here PFI contracts are being sold on, sometime several times. It is crucial that government, and for that matter, the commercial sector, gains "value for money" from its contracts with suppliers. The intelligent client approach should help as it brings together many separate aspects of delivery and supplier management. The content is not particularly new, and maybe even the packaging is not either as some I know claim. BUT, boy is the time right.