2015/16 IPA Report: Investing in project managers

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Posted by APM on 14th Jul 2016

“Are we getting any better?” was the question posed by Tony Meggs, chief executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority as he reflected on his delivery of the UK’s major project portfolio at this year’s APM Conference.

Three months have now passed and results from the IPA’s 2015/ 2016 report produced under its Prime Ministerial mandate conclude the answer is indeed yes.

With less than 1% (0.25%) of the total value of all projects rated red, the government has made significant progress on projects that will improve transport, security and public services across the country.

The report shows that the hard work from the newly formed IPA and its delivery of benefits to the UK economy was made clear, providing a rare public stage to highlight the importance of high calibre project managers in delivering project success, a theme which continued throughout the report.

“From Crossrail to Universal Credit to the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier programme, the impact of these projects to improve the UK infrastructure, transform public services and safeguard national security will be felt across the nation… High calibre leadership and accountability are vital for projects to succeed, and the IPA is at the centre of a change in culture that will see project management and delivery become sought-after career paths within the Civil Service.

While there have been great strides made in delivering benefits to the public, Tony Meggs says that addressing capability remains paramount to underpinning all other activities;

“The building of project delivery capability remains a primary area of focus for the IPA. In addition to our world class leadership programmes, we are developing a number of initiatives which are designed to increase the attractiveness of project delivery as a professional in government.

The quest for flawless executions is never ending. Relentless and sustained focus on the themes outlined [in the report] will help us to ensure we all benefit from the successful delivery of the government’s major projects.”

The report outlines the progress and status of the 143 projects currently on the IPA’s radar and reflects on how we seek to improve over time.

Aside from the £405 billion pound investment driving the projects, for Ministers it is the importance of investing in project managers which they align overall success.

“Investment in people is as essential to the delivery of major projects as the individual project budgets themselves, and we look forward to seeing the results in the years to come.”

The dog that doesn’t bark in the report is Brexit. This will arguably represent the most complex programme ever undertaken by the Civil Service, at a time when specialist and senior capacity in Government departments has been cut by 40-50% since 2010, with more to come. The IPA’s response to the challenge of equipping government with the necessary project management expertise to take on the huge task of EU withdrawal will be crucial.

The Government does not need only lawyers and negotiators to cut through this thicket. It needs top quality project managers, in good numbers

The report can be read online here.

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