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APM president: The time is coming when costs cannot be exceeded

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Posted by APM on 10th Feb 2016

David Waboso says the lesson from successful innovators - like those who created smart phones - is that innovation is not just about design: it’s about delivering to market what it will pay for, at the right price, and the right cost.

In remarks to the APM’s Honorary Fellowship, incoming APM President David Waboso CBE said he saw his role as helping to increase the profile of APM. He believes APM has a key role to play in debates about how we as a nation do projects of all kinds – and that included business change projects.

“If there’s a discussion about projects, I would like APM to be asked to comment – I am asking if that is what members want.”

David paid tribute to the influence and friendship of his mentor, the late Mike Nichols. He recalled that Mike used to talk about how Britain went from the “Friday afternoon car” to the 100% assured car. These days, a car says when it needs attention. It will soon drive itself.

Mike said he wanted projects to be more like that: 100% assured. That would be a marvellous achievement. It would mean that, when clients give us resources for a project, they will have no doubt whatsoever that it will deliver its operational benefits. 

David said that projects come in all forms and vary in size and complexity. Notably, there are megaprojects, and programmes, spanning across traditional boundaries, often international in range and involving huge change David stressed that many projects will still benefit from the traditional time/cost/quality paradigm. 

But he asked: how do we expand the lexicon of project management to reflect that megaprojects and programmes have gone beyond the time/cost/quality paradigm. How are we responding to the complexity of projects in a global context where collaboration is essential?

David commented that collaboration between APM and sister organisations will bring benefits in the debate about how best to get value for money. He foresaw that there will increasingly be a requirement not to exceed costs. He predicted that it will become impossible to go back for more money.

He gave the example of smartphone innovators. They were visionary about design. But, crucially, they were also strict about the price points at which products were marketed. So, like them we must consider how we will increasingly need to deliver projects to market at a not-to-exceed cost.

The world is changing at amazing pace. Concluding, David posed these questions:

How will we use technology in project management? What will be its impact on us, our jobs, our competences and qualifications?

Robotics and automation will play an increasingly role, as they already have in other sectors. How will we respond as project management professionals?  

How do we get the talent, the pipeline, of people and become a profession as diverse as the society we serve? 

Your views on this article are welcome below.

Please follow David Waboso’s Twitter account: @apm_president

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