Leading voices from the project profession shared their expertise on how projects that aim to benefit society can be delivered more successfully at APM’s annual conference, Change Changes.
APM’s campaign, Future Lives and Landscapes, was one of the main themes of the conference, which took place on Thursday, 8 June at the Vox conference centre in Birmingham.
Future Lives and Landscapes is focused on projects that make the world a better place by improving people’s quality of life, enhance physical or mental wellbeing, or improve equality. The campaign will improve shine a light on challenges and opportunities around these projects, and how any barriers to future success can be addressed.
Sessions at the Change Changes conference that discussed themes relevant to the campaign included ' Projects as drivers of social benefits’ and ‘where do we go from here’, which delved into the future of social value projects and the profession as a whole.
A panel discussion was also held as a deep-dive into APM’s recent research into social benefit projects in the UK. Taking part in the session were:
- Tim Banfield, Director of Banfield Advisory Ltd (Chair)
- Kate Hackwell, Project Director at Mott MacDonald (Host)
- Mike Hudson ChPP, Head of Strategic Planning and Project/Programme Management at the National Trust
- Andrew Morgan, Head of Project Delivery Profession at HM Revenue & Customs
- Gillian Magee, Head of Programme Delivery Enabling Units IT at AstraZeneca
Selected highlights from the conversation are as follows:
Q) How do we define the outcomes and measure if we’ve delivered value?
Create a partnership approach for stakeholder engagement
Andrew said: “We hear a lot about stakeholder management, but if I’m a stakeholder, do I really want to be managed? The key for me is much more about stakeholder partnership.”
Have conversations with the right people to identify things that are mutually beneficial and agree what success looks like
Mike said: “Thinking about a particular conservation project I’m sponsoring at the moment, it’s about being really clear about what elements of the project we want to collaborate with people on. How will we use the future building that will exist, and how will the local community benefit. That’s absolutely something we want to work with people on.
“Be honest about how you’ll build that into timescales, because that’s often not something that can be done quickly.”
Consider who you’re not engaging with and whether it would be beneficial to bring them into these conversations
Gillian said: “With the tools that are available now for network analysis, you can see who you’re not engaging with who you perhaps should be. If you have someone in one department looking at data about outcomes, you can connect them with another department that’s looking at other data and say ‘did you know so and so is working on this?’”
Q) What advice would you give for projects where we know success will be difficult to measure but we also know it’s the right thing to do?
Complete business cases quickly
Gillian said: “It’s about organisational agility. We can sometimes spend 6-12 months building a business case for something and, ultimately the outcome of that project is needed now. You need the right people in the room and you need to take a risk.”
Consider lessons that can be learned from past projects
Andrew said: “Sometimes it’s about looking back at a project in hindsight. The ne that always stands out to me is the Sydney Opera House, which was years late and over budget. But no one in the world would doubt the value of that building.”
Where possible, work on projects that will deliver a social benefit you care about personally
Gillian said: “I would encourage people to think about what social value you want to support. It’s always easier to deliver a project if it’s something you’re passionate about.”
About Future Lives and Landscapes
The Future Lives and Landscapes campaign will bring research, thought leadership and expert opinion to individual project practitioners, employers, business leaders and others, to improve the delivery of projects now and in the future. APM's research on the environment for social value projects in the UK can be viewed on the Future Lives and Landscapes campaign page.
About APM events
APM runs more than 200 events every year ranging from webinars and awards ceremonies to day-long conferences. You can see the 2023 event programme here.