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What are the foundations for delivering major projects?

The Project journal archive has a wealth of material that we have sifted through in order to gain some insight into how we can ensure successful project delivery, for any size project. In the second of the Project Digest Series we highlight the most relevant articles which will address what is needed to manage large-scale infrastructure projects and PMOs.

1. The age of opportunity

Many consider infrastructure the catalyst towards making the UK economy more successful (through increased GDP), more effective (with improved standards) and more efficient (with increased productivity levels). This will mean a huge amount of economic and social infrastructure investment and a structured approach to managing a major infrastructure programme. What are the basic things the UK government will need to do to stimulate such future growth? 

Read more about defining scope, prioritisation and benefits management and how they relate to current UK infrastructure requirements.

2. Shining a light on major projects

Delivering large-scale infrastructure and transformation projects is a struggle for any organisation, whether public or private. A report from the National Audit Office (NAO), published in 2016, took a deep dive into the government’s delivery of major projects. Delivering Major Projects in Government was published by NAO director Geraldine Barker and her team, following a comprehensive review of the government’s Major Projects Portfolio. The report was a wake-up call for government, highlighting that project delivery must improve.

Parliament votes large sums of money for projects. Our role is to make sure that those delivering the projects are spending the money in the way that parliament intends it to be spent, and that it is delivering value to the taxpayer,” says Barker. 

The article looks at key lessons from this review, including learning around transparent costs, and managing reliable data sources. 

3. Innovation as a prerequisite for development

In order to achieve the level of economic and infrastructure development planned, improving efficiency and delivering major programmes which can inspire growth, there is a degree of innovation and transformation that is constantly required.

To remain competitive in a digital world, companies in all industries need to leverage technology, transform their business model, and, most importantly, bring innovative products and services to their customers with the speed and quality they expectInnovation through ownership and culture highlights how the project management office can use technology and agile practices to drive through a major business transformation in our example of Allstate’s PMO function. To meet its challenges, Allstate has been going through a global transformation in terms of both the business and technology. It has moved towards a culture of innovation by having a product mindset and a customer focus. 

4. The multi-million pound PMO: 10 things you need to know

As project management offices (PMOs) expand to span divisions or even whole enterprises, many of us find ourselves managing larger and growing portfolios. At the same time, we are proving good things can also come in big packages. By following these top 10 dos and don’ts, you will be able to navigate challenges and avoid some of the most common pitfalls in managing a large portfolio. The PMO discipline has become more advanced, with an increasing number of organisations really understanding its value. Each PMO encounters its own unique situations, but, with the ten tips listed in this article, you will have an idea of how to start tackling your issues. 

5. Practical steps to take to boost your project outcomes 

With the only two sources of funding for public rail infrastructure being taxation and user charging, project investment needs to be carefully managed. In recent years, the infrastructure industry has benefited from significant levels of investment. In the context of project-delivery management, there are a number of practical steps leaders can take to help bolster project outcomes and make the most of infrastructure investment. Simon Wright from Crossrail shares his lessons learned.

Ultimately, project success can never be guaranteed. However, giving attention to these key steps will significantly increase the chance of meeting the objectives and delivering benefits. 

6. How do we make the most of lessons learned? 

A lessons learned session is when the project team and key stakeholders review what has gone well and poorly in a project, builds a clear understanding of why and uses that to come up with lessons (advice for a similar situation to get an better outcome) and discrete actions (to improve the normal way of doing things). The idea is that you both build on what has been done well and learn from what has gone wrong to get better results.

We should not wait until the end of a project to carry out Lessons Learned. Read more about lessons learned – too little can be too late. The danger of waiting until the end of a project to identify, capture and analyse lessons is that most project team members will already be focused on the next project.