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Ninth SWWE Project Management Challenge Competition: Finals and Awards Night 2022/23

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On the evening of 4 May 2023, around 90 excited sponsors, customers, mentors and team members attended the ninth South Wales and West of England (SWWE) Project Management Challenge Finals and Awards Night with four down-selected teams competing for the Winner’s trophy.

This year, the event was held physically at BAWA in Bristol rather than virtually and at the end of the night after four remarkable presentations, the Winner's trophy was awarded to Team Beluga from Airbus who are based in Bristol. Team Beluga delivered a project to their chosen charity, Feed The Homeless. Feed The Homeless (FTH) is a grassroots charity that provides food to those that need it the most in the Bristol community and they are able to provide over 200 people a week access to hot meals, drinks and snacks, with additional food bank services to more than 100 people each week. The objectives of Team Beluga were to deliver a platform to serve as a central hub for FTH and a place to deliver training and conduct food checks at venues, provide an archive (connected to the platform) to act as a database of training and food checks evidence and, lastly, produce a starter pack to be distributed to all FTH members and volunteers with guidance on FTH’s ways of working.

The team utilised a governance process which relates to a linear life cycle methodology combined with an agile approach for the Archive and Platform work packages as these would require there to be some flexibility. Feedback from the project plan, Gateway reviews 2 and 5 as well as Minimum Acceptance Criteria meeting with FTH helped to shape the Development and Deployment phase of the project. These discussions also revealed the need to implement mitigations towards time as a risk. It was recognised that the work packages, especially the deployment of the Archive and Platform would require a period of integration for the charity that may extend past the Challenge Final Report deadline. The team recognised this and adapted the Roadmap to allow for float (extra time that is available after the set deadline for the deliverable that would not impact the success of the project).

Team member Goshe Khan said: "Our team truly enjoyed having the opportunity to develop our management skills. We were a team with no prior formal experience in project management so it was quite the challenge for us. However, we loved being able to get a hands-on understanding of the different areas of project management and understand the theories behind the tools and techniques we were using. Additionally, it was very rewarding and valuable to us to be able to work with a charity that we felt passionate about and be able to make a lasting impact.

"The moment the winners were announced I do not think I even moved from the shock! The other teams from Airbus cheered so loudly for us and were a true support during the entire event. When I finally registered that we had in fact won the challenge, I saw the smiling faces of my team ushering me to get up so we could go get our rewards. I think absolutely ecstatic comes close to what we were feeling, I don't think we stopped smiling for the rest of the night!"

Currently the team has completed the Starter Pack which is ready to be tested on volunteers. The Archive design and functionality has been developed with the aim of populating the database with volunteer data and integrating/ linking the functionality to the platform. The Platform has been designed and developed with the aim to occupy the site with content relating to the charity and form links to the Archive from the forms embedded in the site. The benefits and success of the project is predicted to be realised after 6 to 8 months of use when considering the rate of interest shown by people to join the charity.

Team Beluga with their trophies

The other Winners award of the evening went to Atkins, Team Joy. They won the Best Storyboard award for delivering a project to their customer, MAGGIE’S, who provide free cancer support and information not only to those who have cancer but also to their friends and families.

Team Joy’s project focused on an events template and marketing strategy for the charity as this will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their efforts to plan and run events. Team Joy can be seen in the picture below.

The standard of the presentations on the night was, yet again, astonishing. All of the twenty-one teams competing in this year’s competition have obviously worked extremely hard and have gained lots of valuable experience and knowledge that will help them to develop their careers as project professionals. All teams were asked to deliver outputs and benefits to deserving projects across the community and, importantly, were able to demonstrate and develop their own professional project management competences, understand critical success factors, develop their own personal behaviours and learn from their mistakes, as well as get a taste of what it feels like to be part of an integrated team delivering a very real project.

The other finalists competing in the competition were; Team Agile from Turner and Townsend, who worked with the charity ‘Young Bristol’ to help deliver a market research task with a clear recommendations report; Team Venture for Babcock, who worked with their charity ‘First Light’ to deliver an asset management solution and Team Spirit from Turner and Townsend who worked with their charity St Mungo’s to integrate new IT solutions in to their organisation.

There were seventeen runners up teams who also competed in the Best Storyboard competition, and these are shown below along with their chosen charities. The significant number of participant teams represents an astounding collective contribution by corporate project teams in the South West to the charity sector, representing corporate community reach, social value and collaboration that makes a difference to the lives of many people across society who either struggle or are disadvantaged in life.

The Project Board consisting of Head Judge Bruce Phillips, SWWE Branch co-chairs Paul Johnson and Gary Mainwaring, SWWE committee members Martin Gosden and Allan Reid, John Bone (Senior Lecturer, SGS College), Sarah Halstead (Atkins), Aimee Avrill (committee member) and Carolyn Bellars (MOD), managed three key assessment stages:

  • Provision of a project plan in December 2022 that identified smart outputs and benefits to be delivered, associated resources, costs and key risks;
  • Provision of a final report in March 2023 which demonstrated how the teams delivered the project outputs and benefits defined in the original project plan using a range of competences defined in the APM BoK; and
  • The delivery of four 15 minutes presentations at the Awards and Finals Night.

Bruce Phillips, who managed the competition overall, said “The project board was unanimous in its praise for the significant effort shown by all entries in the SWWE branch’s ninth successful PM Challenge competition. All of the aspiring project professionals in all of the competing teams have worked extremely hard to deliver their projects. It is astonishing to see such a high standard from such young professionals and that their outputs are actually being used for very worthy charitable and social causes. Whilst winning the competition is ‘icing on the cake’ every member of every team is a winner as the competition is all about individual and collective learning and development. Every single member of each team should be justifiably proud of their achievements in delivering real benefit to the wider community and, equally as important, the development of their personal and professional competences for their future careers in the project profession. I would urge you all to keep that thought at the front of your mind and to build upon these experiences – both in terms of success and in what you have learned - as you develop your careers further.”

All participating teams, mentors, sponsors, corporate organisations, charities and supporters were thanked and congratulated on their excellent contributions towards another successful Challenge competition which would simply not be possible without their support, commitments and motivations. The SWWE Challenge competition has really blossomed over its nine years existence which has been fundamentally achieved through both the sustained contribution of our corporate communities in the South West and also the realisation that having a career in the project profession can bring huge opportunities to our project professionals of tomorrow.

Bruce Phillips


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  1. Bruce Phillips
    Bruce Phillips 09 May 2023, 07:15 PM

    An epic event, competition ad opportunity to learn and develop a wide range of important PM competences! Thank you to all of the corporates and clients for your support. Let's make it ten in a row next year!