UK Project Management Round Up


By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK


This is a brief report this month as I am out of UK and so have few resources available to bring you the latest from the project world.  However, there are still some aspects that can be reported.  Energy plans seem to feature in the news this month and as always, there is a lot to be reported under the Infrastructure heading.  Sadly, there are still negative aspects to report that either threaten existing projects, those planned for the future and those that had the plug pulled early.  Let’s deal with the negative first.


Much of the bad news centres around the power industry but transport and the aircraft industry all have their problems.  The first aspect for the power industry is the revised estimates of capacity that show UK is twice to suffer power blackouts than previously thought. You could be forgiven for thinking this is actually good news for the project world as it should mean more and urgent construction of additional generating capacity but such work would take significant time to complete.  This year alone, UK will lose a gigawatt of coal fired capacity bringing mainly through the closure of coal fired power stations such as Eggborough which generates 4% of the UK capacity.

The UK Government is complying with EU directives to reduce coal and have recently reiterated their intention to stand firm on the plan to shut down coal generation, possible by 2030.  More telling is the Government refusal to place any of these plants in a strategic reserve to cover the unexpected, such as further delays in the construction of new nuclear plants.  While many observers feel thisis a foolish stance, others claim that the fines Brussels would levy for allowing mothballed plants to resume operation would be greater than building new plants.  As in all projects, timing is everything and the stakes are high, we are talking about failure affecting the national economy and likely increased deaths in winters to come.

Government caution may be well advised since the European Commission is investigating the ‘strike through’ price.  Officials at the Commission are reported to have stated that it ‘doubts that the project suffers from a genuine market failure’.  State aid is only permitted when this occurs.  What impact this will have on the project plans is not yet known but I doubt that it will be good.

Failed Projects are always bad news and the British Broadcasting Corporation, (BBC) which is soon to start negotiations over its funding process, is facing yet more criticism over its aborted Digital Media Initiative (DMI) project.  This had all of the hallmarks of a classic failed major IT failure – weak governance arrangements, poor plans poorly monitored etc – and some £100 million has been written off.

The BBC has been criticized by Members of Parliament, notably the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and other critics who accuse the BBC of trying to bury the long awaited Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) report by releasing it shortly before Christmas.  This report ‘confirms’ that the BBC internal governance is not fit for purpose according to press reports.  Scrutiny has been renewed as the National Audit Office resumed its investigations and should report very soon.  The PAC will be interrogating Mark Thompson, the previous Governor General of the BBC at the start of February so expect more harsh words. 


To read entire report, click here

About the Author

flag-ukpmwj17-dec2013-shepherd-AUTHOR IMAGEMILES SHEPHERD

Salisbury, UK

Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World 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 of the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  He is currently Director of PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and the 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].