Can we personalise project management?

Guest Blog: Jon Odell, Partner, CPC Project Services

Delivering capital projects, whether they be new-builds, extensions or maintenance of existing assets, inherently brings complexity and risk in varying degrees throughout the project lifecycle.

My own experience in the higher education sector is a prime example of this. Capital expenditure in the vast educational estate in the UK has exceeded £3bn for the last three years, across an estate of over 22,000,000m2 – equivalent to the City of Salford in Manchester or 290,000 average UK homes.

The Association for Project Management (APM) provides training and guidance for the project management profession regardless of sector, and PRINCE2 offer courses on how their project management methodology can be applied to different project scenarios – but is this merely training on how to apply the training?!

Can we apply a standardised project management approach to the higher education sector?

Higher Education, in particular, encompasses some extremely challenging sites, some of significant heritage importance, others land-locked in suburban areas and then there are those suffering from backlog maintenance requirements or piecemeal, incoherent development. This, coupled with the fact that any one project often involves two or more academic divisions and multiple departments, makes for a complex brief and the need for highly-skilled stakeholder management.

I believe the key to success is maintaining agility and allowing project management professionals the autonomy to provide a bespoke, tailored solution for clients based on their specific needs, and in accordance with the local environment and governance arrangements. Standardisation? There will always be common strands in the delivery of projects across different sectors but the key to success is having the capability to recognise that one size does not fit all.

My team have successfully overcome many unique challenges in this sector, one such being a significant re-scope of a new-build extension, due to the existing building being condemned part-way through construction, but where there was justification for the extension to continue. Equally complex, has been the design and construction of rooftop extensions or the infill of undercroft and atrium space, as the demand for academic research space outstrips the capacity of existing buildings.

As Partner at CPC Project Services (CPC), one of the largest project management consultancies in the UK, I am leading the development of CPC’s 2019 project delivery guide. This will provide the framework for project delivery, but not constrain the natural flair and solutions-based approach of our people nor their ability to quickly respond to our clients’ unique requirements. Enabling flexibility whilst maintaining structure will ensure that our clients’ expectations are exceeded across all of our sectors, no matter how complex.

Date: 28/02/2019
Category: Steve's Blog