UK Project Management Roundup


By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent 

Salisbury, England, UK


Spring has not really ‘sprung’ in UK so far.  Unseasonal heavy snow in April has put back much of the usual delights with migrant birds from Africa and Scandinavia as much as 3 weeks behind their scheduled arrivals and little sign of green in the hedgerows.  The impact of this winter on the project world is difficult to read, too, as the construction and building industries still seem slow to pick up.

In this report I will be looking at the UK economy, the outlook for projects and UK project managers.


Growth in the UK economy has been sluggish since 2008 when the banking crisis sparked a major downturn in worldwide growth.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) told the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he is being too heavy handed with the austerity measures and that more needed to be done to encourage industry.  As output in UK remains some 2.6% below that of the level pre-crisis, UK is weaker than all EU countries except Italy.  Compare this with USA, Canada and Germany who have all passed their pre-crisis output levels.

There is some glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel as UK avoided the so called triple dip recession and GDP rose by 0.3% – not a huge amount but enough to spark a small surge against the mighty Dollar and Euro.  Figures released in the last week of April showed that steady increases in the service sector offset continuing weakness in manufacturing.  As the project world is part of the service sector, it is not unreasonable to think that the British have Project, and Programme managers to thank for such progress as we have seen.

plcInterestingly, Santander, the largest bank in the Eurozone, thinks that the worst is over in UK.  Despite rising costs of banking and an erosion of 9% in their cost / profit ratio, Santander UK CEO Ana Bolin (pictured left) stated that she foresaw signs that ‘greater stability’ would improve their trading position.  Santander is increasing its lending to Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to build its market share to 5.3% from 4.7%.  Although they see the economy as remaining weak, strong earnings growth is forecast of the rest of this year.

One factor that has yet to make a major impression is the change in stakeholder relations at many major organizations.  While investors approved broadly of the ‘golden hello’ awarded to the new CEO at AstraZeneca, Taylor Wimpey, one of the major house builders in UK has just emerged from a bruising encounter with shareholders over the company’s remuneration report, despite a strengthened order book.  This rose by 27% to around £1.6 billion in the first quarter.

Similarly, defence specialists Chobham struggled to have their pay package approved with 9.8% against and 5.9% withholding their vote.  Chobham shares closed 2.2% up on the day.  While the numbers are significant for investors, their impact on projects is not yet clear as reports on pay trend for Project staff shows continuing weakness.  The clear feeling amongst the share buying public is that Company Directors are overpaid for the work they do, with many seen as being rewarded several times over for the same performance.

These are not simply presentational matters and the implications for Project Managers is not yet clear but a good case could be made for improving rewards for project staff since their performance is relatively straightforward to measure.


To read entire report (click here)

About the Author

miles shepherdflag-ukMILES 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 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 the Chair of the ISO committees that are developing new ISO 21500 Guidelines 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].