The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) recently published its latest Annual Report on Major Projects 2020-21. The headline figures were that 95 new projects joined the Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP), while 36 left, leaving a total of 184 projects within the GMPP.
The IPA uses a traffic light system to outline project status. There are only seven projects listed in the red category (“successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable”), but there will be some concern at the 44 projects in amber/red (“successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas”) and 84 in amber (“successful delivery appears feasible but significant issues already exist”).
This blog won’t comment on the specifics behind the individual projects at this stage. But being realistic about problems and acknowledging them allows us to understand those problems, consider solutions and implement changes to get projects back on course.
The report also suggests this increase in amber and amber/red projects could be a consequence of 95 new projects joining the portfolio. Either way, to help cope with this influx of projects, the report outlines plans for major expansion in three areas:
- IPA-led recruitment of a pool of expert major project leaders, deployed directly into departments, to boost leadership capacity and capability in government major projects, and filling critical gaps in professional delivery roles across the government’s major project portfolio.
- Creating a better deal for major project senior responsible owners (SROs) to boost capability and capacity across government, by taking forward work to improve selection, remuneration arrangements, grade structures and support, to attract and retain top talent.
- Increasing SRO time commitment for the biggest and most challenging project roles, and requiring projects to demonstrate SRO capability and capacity through approvals gates, to ensure projects are resourced with leaders who have the right level of experience and time to focus on effective delivery.
We’re keen to see the detail behind this, but in general APM is pleased to see more support for SROs. And directly deployed major project leaders within departments should directly help with consistency of approach and indirectly help to boost understanding and awareness of the role of project professionals.
This support is crucial given proposed future plans, with the report highlighting that many investments within the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will likely join the GMPP. This reflects something APM has been saying for some time; that project professionals will be front and centre in all plans to mitigate climate change.
We will continue to support progress on turning around failing projects and hope that the lessons learned can be applied to the projects within the Ten Point Plan. After all, we simply cannot afford for those projects to fail.