How to deliver an award-winning project

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The Association for Project Management (APM) 2019 award-winners know how to deliver an amazing project. From Rolls-Royce’s mega-transformation work to Cumbria NHS’s potentially lifesaving maternity technology, they have delivered projects that will make a real difference to their organisations and beyond. 

We asked the winners at the event what advice they’d offer on how to plan, manage and deliver an award-winning project.

Don’t settle for ‘good enough’

“This actually links back to what Henry Royce, the founder of Rolls-Royce, would teach us today. Never settle on anything that is good enough. Always challenge yourself. Always ask: ‘what would be a better way of doing this? And keep pushing for it.” Jacob Achenbach, Rolls-Royce, Young Project Professional of the Year.

Get your governance right, and lean into it

“My project faced adversity on numerous accounts – physical, tangible, and within the team. Throughout every one of those challenges, it would have been easy to fall apart and lose yourself. Whereas I found it was much better to lean on the governance that you've already set up; to lean on that team, which you should be able to trust to get you through the difficult times.” David Calver, North Highland, Project Professional of the Year.

Know your customer

“It's absolutely paramount to understand your customer. I came from an e-health background, working in an IT department. I looked to the project at a scope level and said, ‘this will keep me busy for six months. There's not that much to do. We'll crack some infrastructure and we'll roll out some software and we'll get this over the line.’ That's what I've done in other parts of the health service for years.

“Maternity is something very, very different. It needed a real breakthrough of all the business processes and it's hand in hand engagement with maternity colleagues that reaps the biggest value. So it's listening to your customer and then giving your customer what they want. IT people do not know best – we only think we do.” Karen McGovern, Clevermed, Cumbria NHS maternity project, Overall Project of the Year.

Align the vision and objectives

“It's all about getting that shared vision – what are we all here for? You might be the client, but have you thought about your suppliers' aims? What are they trying to get to? It's just having that shared objective. We're all here for the same goal, regardless of hierarchy, position and organisation we work for. Really spend that time building team unity and between you, you can overcome anything.” Joe Butterfield, Heathrow Airport, Technology Project of the Year.

Stick to the basics

“There's a whole load of value in really focusing on the fundamentals – understanding of risk, the schedule and the integrated master schedule. Making sure that you've got the right organisation structure and people to actually deliver the projects.” Mike Hopkins, Rolls-Royce, Transformation Project of the Year.

Look for marginal gains

“It’s about taking time to stand back and look objectively at where you can make improvements. Once the basics are right, you can start looking at: ‘if I do something slightly different, what benefit will that give us? How much can we achieve? Where can we take this to?” Kevin Bell, Sellafield Ltd, Engineering, Construction and Infrastructure Project of the Year.

Brought to you by Project journal.
Mark Rowland

Posted by Mark Rowland on 21st Nov 2019

About the Author

Mark Rowland is a senior writer on the Project editorial team. He has worked as a business journalist and editor for 15 years, and has won awards for his writing and editing. He has also worked in project and product management, overseeing the launch and continuous development of new websites and publications. Project is the official journal of the Association for Project Management (APM).

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