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Benefits Summit 2016 - Delivering Major Projects in Government

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Joanna and Chris from the National Audit Office (NAO) delivery team gave a convincing presentation on the challenge of demonstrating how major projects had realised forecasted benefits. 

As was the case with many people attending our Summit, Chris managed to arrive just in time to support Joanna, despite the awful flooding that London was experiencing which disrupted many travel services and flooded many properties. Well done to all those that didn’t turn around and head home!

Joanne’s forensic review of the millennium dome – its history and eventual morphing into the O2 arena - demonstrated to all the difficulty of forecasting the eventual value of some of our iconic national programmes. She built on this with a reference to Charles Babbage whose difference machine, considered to be the world’s first computer [1822], was never built in his lifetime but has literally reshaped the world we know today.

Joanna emphasised the imperative of describing a vision for the project, to gain stakeholder buy-in, such that they are able to understand it and work together towards achieving the required outcomes.

The enormity of the costs of delivering the Government’s Major Project Portfolio (GMPP) - more than £500bn over their respective lifetimes - was explained. Those charged with delivery must be accountable for providing value for money to stakeholders - the UK population. However, too many projects still fail to do this. The NAO’s Delivery Confidence Assessment tool is used to expose projects whose status is deemed to be amber/red or red, i.e. ‘successful delivery is in doubt or unachievable unless action is taken. See Delivering Major Projects in Government: A Briefing for the Public Accounts Committee (Jan 2016)

Joanne and Chris informed the delegates that the challenge was increasing and that we had better sooner rather than later ensure our nation’s investment in change achieved its outcomes. The role that measures played in setting, monitoring and tracking investment performance was described and the factors that made evidencing the value realised through our investments were described:

  • Data on projects’ progress towards benefits collected not published
  • Projects leave the Portfolio before benefits are delivered
  • Different accountability for benefits and project delivery
  • Departments often don’t report on benefits
  • They may not be delivered for many years

Joanna and Chris outlined what the NAO was looking for when it came to assuring effective benefits management was being undertaken.

A great keynote presentation that set the tone of the day – there is much to do but we are getting on and making sure that it done.

Neil White,
APM BM SIG Chairman


Also available from the Benefits Summit 2016 conference:


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