UK Project Management Round Up


By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK


As the summer draws to a close, I thought there would be little to report but I had reckoned without the politicians. They seem happy to comment on other people’s projects via the Public Accounts Committee but there is little about their own project at Westminster. Politics spill over into regional debate and clearly the state of the Union is a major topic in terms of politics, economics and the history of the United Kingdom. Another continuing topic is the failure of process and projects and some well-known examples have been on the inside pages this past month. Finally, there is news of some major takeover battles. So all in all, another busy month in the project world.


The first area of criticism lies in the construction area. There has been a recent report claiming that the construction industry output is down for the second quarter of the financial year. How accurate this is may be questioned but performance in May was recorded as having fallen by 1.1% after a 1.2% increase in April. Set against that, the year to date is up by 3.5% – BUT this is the slowest rate of increase for 6 months! This needs to be put in context as the sector only accounts for 6% of the UK economy but has been seen as an important driver of growth, reflecting Government incentives. This drop is in line with other disappointing numbers which saw factory output dropping while the trade deficit grew.

Further criticism was heaped on the failed eBorders project, yet another costly but flawed procurement project. This time, it is not the Public Accounts Committee climbing on the band wagon to beat up project managers, but the Home Affairs Committee. Readers with a long memory may recall that the project involved a US defence contractor who were contracted to provide a secure borders programme (I know and you know, it was actually a project but the politicians and the press don’t know the difference between the two). The previous Administration initiated the deal in 2007 and the current bunch binned it in 2010 claiming that Raytheon failing to deliver (according to the Borders Agency). This cost the Government £224 million and to add insult to injury, arbitration added another £50 million. The arbitration did not consider the delivery aspect but said that the Borders Agency had not briefed the Home Secretary properly on whether the contractors had an arguable case to continue work. According to the Chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vas MP, Raytheon claimed that the UKBA had not given them any benchmarks against which they were to perform. Mr Vas went on to claim that the UKBA did not know what they wanted from the programme. Interestingly, Mr Vas’ colleague the Shadow Home Office Minister, claimed that the Prime Minister’s judgment was faulty – I wonder what his views of the approval process his own government used to set up the project in the first place?


To read entire report, click here

About the Author

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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].

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