December 2018 UK Project Management Round Up

BREXIT, Problem Projects, Rail Programmes, New Nuclear, Other Projects, APM Awards



By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK



It has been a long time since I did a round up of UK Project Management News and for that I apologise.  To make up the gap in coverage, this month we will look at rail industry projects, the energy scene including nuclear, some project politics and professional society news.  I suppose it is inevitable that we need to mention the topic on everyone’s mind these days – BREXIT, but this will be short and I’ll get it out of the way first.


The subject of UK leaving the European Union has occupied untold column inches in the press and almost interminable coverage in the broadcast media.  It is startling how little information has been imparted but we are not short of speculation, overwrought opinion and obfuscation.  At long last, we have what Project Managers would recognise as heads of terms, the first stage in long and complex negotiations.  This is currently the subject of much debate but almost no one seems to have read the 600 page document, nor is there much evidence of logical analysis.  Our political masters will vote in about 10 days-time on this and if, as seems likely, the “deal” is rejected by Parliament, it is difficult to see where we go next.  It will give us something to report next month!

One practical outcome of BREXIT is the exclusion of UK from some key joint projects.  The most prominent casualty from the EU perspective is UK’s withdrawal from the Galileo programme.  The EU have excluded UK from some key contracts and denied access to military signal traffic essential for missile guidance systems post BREXIT.  While this was all obvious well before the negotiations began, as it is the only position that could be adopted under EU law when UK becomes a “Third Party”, it is irritating as UK have funded large parts of the programme.  The UK line was “…they will realise they have made a mistake and shouldn’t push it”.  Recent comments in Brussels seem to have goaded Mrs May into reviewing the situation.  The Prime Minister has decided UK will develop its own satellite navigation system.  The strategic implications are significant both militarily and economically.

Other BREXIT news concerns fears over inward investment as several key manufacturers have delayed major investment decisions.  For instance, SMURFIT KAPPA, the largest cardboard box and packaging manufacturer in Europe has shelved plans to build a £50 million plant in UK.  Weatherspoons, the pub chain has threatened to axe EU beers and replace them with UK brewed alternatives.  This seems likely to have a significant impact on European supply chain firms such as Lavazza who currently sell in excess of 50 million cups annually through Weatherspoons pubs.  Clearly there will be casualties on all sides no matter how amicable the split becomes.


Three long term projects have caused ripples in the UK project world in the past few months.  First, the troubled IT system at TSB, reported in the early summer, has again failed.  The number of customers affected was much smaller than the original failure but the reputational damage continues to impact the bank.  The Financial Conduct Authority has been involved but the bank continues to operate and there have been no further occurrences.

Some projects just never die!  You will probably recall the so-called Garden Bridge project, supported by our lately resigned Foreign Minister when he was Mayor of London.  The latest dispute revolves around a requested £9 million payment to the project which was abandoned in August last year.  If paid, the taxpayer will have spent £46.4 million.  Legal opinion is divided but there is some concern that the Trustees may be called to account for agreeing a construction contract before substantial planning hurdles had been cleared and funding secured.


To read entire report, click here


How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2018).  July 2018 UK Project Management Roundup, PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue XII (December).  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/pmwj77-Dec2018-Shepherd-UK-project-management-roundup-Report.pdf

About the Author

Miles Shepherd

Salisbury, UK



Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World Journal in the United Kingdom. He is also managing director for MS Projects Ltd, a consulting company supporting various UK and overseas Government agencies, nuclear industry organisations and other businesses.  Miles has over 30 years’ experience on a variety of projects in UK, Eastern Europe and Russia.  His PM experience includes defence, major IT projects, decommissioning of nuclear reactors, nuclear security, rail and business projects for the UK Government and EU.   Past Chair and Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM), Miles is also past president and chair and a Fellow of the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  He is currently a Director for PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and is immediate past Chair of the ISO committee developing new international standards for Project Management and for Program/Portfolio Management.  He was involved in setting up APM’s team developing guidelines for project management oversight and governance.  Miles is based in Salisbury, England and can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Miles Shepherd, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/miles-shepherd/.