Why care about major projects? … because they matter

 

This blog is part of my Major Projects Matter series. It explores the nature of major projects and what they mean to practitioners, governments and academics. Your views and comments on this blog are encouraged and welcomed.

 

 

 

Major projects are nation affecting

Major projects affect the social and economic well-being of nations. The Infrastructure and Project Authority (IPA) monitors the Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) valued at £450 billion (2016), which equates to nearly 25% of the UKs Gross Domestic Product (2016) albeit invested over more than just one year. If we include projects that are not monitored as part of this portfolio, the value of Major Projects is much greater.

Major Projects exist in virtually every sector

There are many types of major projects. Some projects focus on infrastructure, while others focus on technology-enabled change, changing the machinery of government or major organisational transformation. They can exist in any sector including defence, transport, health, education, energy, finance, international development and beyond. Some sectors have received increased levels of government funding in recent years, such as transport; However, all have notable social and economic relevance.

Major Projects are high risk … but provide distinctive benefits

According to the IPA, major projects as those that:

  • require spending over and above departmental expenditure limits,
  • require primary legislation or
  • are innovative or contentious (high risk).

The Major Projects in the GMPP are generally delivered collaborative by public, private and third sector organisations. I believe this is a distinguishing feature of major projects that also affects complexity and risk.

Major projects require organisations to build capabilities

The risk profile of Major Projects varies according to the sector and nature of the Major Project. A defence equipment project, for example, can expect heighted risks related to security and commercial contracts, A central government organisational transformation project, for example, can expect heighted risks related to staff awareness of and engagement with the required changes.

In response, organisations need to develop high performing project-based cultures, leaders and management systems, specialist knowledge and skills, and processes, techniques and tools. Good practice based on learning from past experiences and insights needs to be employed and sustained for longer periods of time.

What does this mean in practice?

Join me as a guest blogger to the Major Project Association to explore this topic. Future blogs will explore some of my experiences and insights. Your views and comments on this blog are also encouraged and welcomed.

a blog by @schusterandrew

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