Ian Heptinstall

Lecturer in project management, University of Birmingham

Ian Heptinstall is a lecturer in project management and the course lead for the University of Birmingham's Masters in Industrial Project Management programme.

In his early career he managed projects in the chemicals industry, working for both project clients and project contracting organisations. He led one of the first projects to use a multi-party collaborative 'project alliance' contracting approach in the late 1990s, and 20 years later is surprised at how rare truly collaborative project contracting is.

He has also held senior procurement roles in pharmaceuticals and construction, and is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply. He is a committee member of the APM special interest group on Contracts & Procurement, and author of 'The Executive Guide to Breakthrough Project Management'.

He has a particular interest in holistic project collaboration and applying the ideas of systems thinking in project management.


Do Projects Need Sponsors? ...and similar questions. 

There is a dilemma in the world of project management. We have comprehensive bodies of knowledge and more trained project staff than ever before... whilst also having significant dissatisfaction in the overall performance of projects In this presentation John & Ian will take a contrarian view on several of the common project conventions, and ask whether the performance of projects might be improved by thinking differently and doing differently

• There is a growing emphasis of the role of the sponsor (or SRO in the UK government), particularly in the early stages of a project.  Is this a critical success factor, or a cop-out by project managers?

• Defining responsibilities and clarifying accountability is another commonly accepted critical success factor on projects.  Is the use of the RACI chart helping, or making things worse?

• Are milestones actually millstones?  Management by milestones - meeting your commitments - lies at the heart of many project control methods.  But might this be one of the main reasons why projects take longer and cost more than they should do?

• Should we be using the methods of procurement that are great for buying a car or a house, when we are putting together a team to deliver complex projects?  

These and other questions will be discussed during the presentation.  John and Ian suggest some answers, and share a few case studies that demonstrate how convention might not be right after all.

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