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UK Project Management: The Year in Review

Review of UK Project Management 2014Last week I looked forward at the hot project management trends for 2015. This week I want to look back.

The last 12 months have been a busy time for the UK project management scene, and that was just the bits I was able to take part in. I had 7 months off on maternity leave and it feels as if there has been a step change forward in the way that project management is regarded. Here’s my review of the year for project management in the UK in 2014.

Project roundup

There were some humongous projects undertaken in the UK this year.

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games came to fruition after years of planning.

Care.data, the project to create electronic patient medical records, was in the news a lot, not least because of a small clause in the documentation that seemed to imply that the NHS could share your confidential medical history with commercial organisations. I’m not still not 100% sure who will have access to this huge database.

Crossrail, Europe’s largest construction project, plodded on, delivering small wins in anticipation of the first services through central London in 2018. This is a project where delicate stakeholder management is needed, and it’s doing its part for getting girls into STEM subjects too by partnering with local schools and offering apprenticeships.

Awards roundup

The big project management awards in the UK are awarded at the APM’s glitzy November event. The winners this year were:

Dawlish - the original breach

Dawlish – the original sea wall breach, February 2014

Project of the Year: Dawlish Sea Wall Emergency Works to reopen the railway line that links Exeter with the rest of the South West. I remember seeing this on TV after the devastating bad weather left tracks suspended in mid-air with no ground underneath them. Excellent communication on this project too, with a webcam reporting live from the site, daily updates on the website and photos updated every 6 hours.

Programme of the Year: Wylfa Extended Generation Programme to extend the life of the only operational Magnox power station in the world.

Project Management Company of the Year: Shell Projects & Technology

Project Professional of the Year: Steve Walters from Magnox

Young Project Professional of the Year: Luke Streeter from Atkins

Social Project of the Year: Anderston Phase 3 Regeneration, which regenerated an area close to Glasgow city centre to provide community housing and a shop and involved relocating residents while this work was undertaken.

Mike Nichols, APM

© APM, no modifications made https://www.flickr.com/photos/apmevents/11288350475/

Women in Project Management

Women in project management did not go unrecognised this year either. Dr Lynn Crawford took the APM’s coveted Sir Monty Finniston award for ‘remarkable dedication to the profession’.

The Women in Project Management Special Interest Group celebrated their 21st anniversary in London in October as well. Watch my video of the event here.

In memoriam

In January I reported that former APM Chair Mike Nichols had passed away. Mike takes the credit for moving the APM towards Chartered status and for creating a huge learning legacy as part of the Olympic Games, ensuring that what was learnt through the Games’ project delivery was not lost to new projects. He’ll be sadly missed by the UK project management community.


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Project Management news round up for September 2014

As it’s Software September, we’re focusing this month’s news round up on the moving and shaking in the project management software arena.

Wrike releases new native iOS and Android apps

Californian based collaboration software firm Wrike have launched new apps for iOS and Android which aim to give users the functionality to update their work on the go. Optimised for iPad and Android tablets, they provide everything you’d expect to get through your laptop browser.

Changepoint acquires Daptiv

Cloud project management software company Daptiv has been acquired by Changepoint as part of what they are calling “an aggressive growth strategy”. The acquisition should give Changepoint the opportunity to invest in both on-premise and cloud solutions, covering all bases. It’s not surprising that we are seeing consolidation in the marketplace when it comes to project management tools after all there are hundreds of them. The acquisition already looks like it is working well for Changepoint as they have just won the Gold 2014 Golden Bridge Award for Outstanding Innovation in Enterprise Management for the Daptiv product.

KeyedIn® Projects launches new functionality

Leeds-based KeyedIn Solutions has added some new functionality to its latest release. Version 5.7 includes benefits management capability and new governance tools including the option of creating your own checklists to mark off tasks prior to moving the project to a new stage. Checklists don’t sound very revolutionary but they have been proven to improve performance and quality in aircraft and in hospitals so why not make the leap to think they will improve success rates on projects too?

Projectplace acquired by Planview

Johan Zetterström, EVP and General Manager, Projectplace. Photo from Projectplace (CC BY 3.0)

Johan Zetterström, EVP and General Manager, Projectplace. Photo from Projectplace (CC BY 3.0)

More market consolidation in the project management space. Planview, which is headquartered in Texas, has acquired the project management software company Projectplace in a bid to expand its solutions in the direction of portfolio and resource management. Projectplace remains located in Sweden and their CEO takes up a new role leading the new Projectplace business unit from Stockholm. I hope the acquisition works out well for them; I’ve collaborated with Projectplace in the past and they’ve even written for this blog.

Need a new way to manage resources?

The PapercutPM introduces his annual project portfolio capacity planner. Designed for project portfolio managers to use during the annual planning and budgeting cycle, this is an Excel based tool without macros, so it will run in any security environment. Geoff Crane has released it on a pay-what-you-want basis and I know it will be worth it – watch the video to find out what it does and download the tool here. That’s not an affiliate link, by the way. I just love Geoff.

More news from Basecamp

Earlier this year 37Signals announced that they were changing their name to Basecamp and focusing on that project management product. That meant selling off their other products including the CRM solution Highrise. But they couldn’t find a buyer at the time. Now, however, they’ve managed to set Highrise up as a product and business in its own right under the stewardship of Nathan Kontny. That should mean that the Basecamp team have more time to focus on their project management solution and Highrise gets the management team and focus it deserves.

New ConceptDraw versions

ConceptDraw have launched a raft of new versions recently. Project v6 now supports MS Project files and includes new visual graphic reports (making my review of v5 now out of date). Pro v10 is the latest version of their flagship drawing tool which is compatible with the latest versions of Visio. Mindmap v7 also now has better Microsoft integration and compatibility with Mindjet MindManager formats too.

And finally: the new English computing curriculum launches

This month sees the launch of changes to the computing curriculum in England which sees a greater focus on computer science and digital literacy (hurrah!). It’s being billed as the biggest change to the way IT is taught in schools since computers arrived in the classroom.

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, surveyed parents to ask them what they thought about computing in schools and while 60% said they didn’t know or weren’t sure about the changes, 88% believed that learning computing will help their child be more successful in later life. But less than half would encourage them to study the subject at GCSE or A Level. Maybe because the syllabus doesn’t reflect what parents think are the ‘important’ bits of computing? I don’t know.

Bill Mitchell, BCS Director of Education said, “We know that pupils from primary school onwards enjoy and are good at computing and that it aids their intellectual development, literacy and numeracy skills. Learning the fundamental principles and techniques of computer science is also important for the development of the UK’s future engineers, scientists and creators of technology.” I hope it also helps organised ways of working and the ability to manage projects as well.


This is going to be long, so here’s the summary:

  • APM is applying for a Royal Charter
  • PMI objected at the time
  • The Privy Council decided that they were going to recommend a Royal Charter for APM
  • PMI raised legal challenges
  • The High Court has conducted a judicial review into the objections
  • PMI’s objections have been dismissed.

Now, if you want the full story, read on.

How did we get here?

In 2007 APM announced its intention to achieve Chartered status for the project management profession. APM explains why as follows:

As a UK charity dedicated to acting for the public good, it is committed to gaining Chartered status on behalf of the project management profession in the UK.  That will secure recognition, status and enhanced standards for the profession at a time when the UK’s need for effective and efficient project sponsorship and delivery is greater than ever.

PMI made an application to object to APM receiving Chartered status and that kicked off a long process of judicial review, the results of which were announced on Thursday.

Why did PMI object?

I have searched all over for an explanation of why online, but I can only find the original email sent out to members by the PMI UK on 9 June 2012 which sets out these reasons:

  1. In order for APM to be granted Chartered status, it needs to have been judged by the Privy Council to represent most of the project management profession. APM’s acquisition of Chartered status would be an acceptance that it exclusively represents the vast majority of project managers in the UK. With over 6000 members and many more credential holders, PMI also represents a very substantial number of project managers in the UK. The Chapter’s management team expressed concern that the Privy Council has not taken into account that due to PMI’s large UK membership, APM cannot claim to represent most of the profession.
  2. It is in the public interest and the interests of the profession that there is diversity in the marketplace for project management qualifications and tools.
  3. The project management profession in the UK benefits from the plurality of approaches on offer. With a million members in 185 countries, PMI brings a unique global perspective to project management to its UK members, something that APM, as a UK-only organisation, cannot replicate.
  4. The Charter application process has not taken into account the views of all project managers, particularly those that utilise the global approach championed by PMI.

The first point on the list is particularly important. In 2009 the Minister of State at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills notified the Privy Council Office that his department did not recommend granting Chartered status to APM because of this reason – APM should have as members most of the eligible field for membership and he didn’t feel this criteria was met.

You need a unanimous decision in order for a Charter to be granted. Without the support of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills there was not going to be a unanimous decision and APM put its application on hold.

So what happened?

Well, APM did some lobbying. The government changed, new people got put in charge, the departments involved were reorganised and someone new looked at the evidence again. In 2011 the Department for Business Innovation and Skills withdrew its objection.

PMI’s concern that the Royal Charter will result in an anti-competitive advantage for APM’s members was rejected. While PMI and APM compete for membership and membership fees, the representative from the Office of Government Commerce said that it would be in the public interest for the APM to be granted Chartered status because:

  • It is possible to belong to both organisations
  • APM is by a considerable margin the largest project management professional body in the UK
  • The title of Chartered Project Professional would not be limited to members of APM.

With a unanimous approval now on the cards, APM asked for its application to be taken off hold and to be considered by the Privy Council.

What did the Privy Council decide?

The Privy Council considered the application and the objections and came to a decision. On 4 July last year the Treasury Solicitor (who works on behalf of the Privy Council and the Cabinet Office) notified PMI that they would be recommending to the Queen that APM are granted a Royal Charter. This recommendation was due to go on the agenda for a meeting in October 2013.

PMI challenged that decision – three of their challenges were rejected out of hand and two were maintained. This meant that those two claims had to be fully assessed, so the Chartered status application went before a judicial review earlier this month.

So PMI challenged again? What did the judge decide?

Mr Justice Mitting said that he believed this was the first time that the grant or refusal of a Royal Charter has been the subject of litigation, which makes this case pretty ground-breaking!

PMI challenged on two grounds.

The first challenge: decision was biased and pre-determined

First, they alleged apparent bias (because the government might make more money from their PRINCE2 qualification as this can count towards APMP) and actual pre-determination (because there is a long history of government interactions with APM).

The judgement concluded:

No reasonable person could reasonably believe that Government support for the grant of a Royal Charter to APM could possibly be motivated by the desire to profit financially from the promotion of its own PRINCE 2 qualification. Further, even if such a motive could be inferred, it would not vitiate the decision.

I had to look up ‘vitiate’. If it’s new to you too, it means ‘weaken the effectiveness of’. So basically the government has the right to make decisions in its financial interest if it wants.

“Executive decision-making does not normally start with a blank sheet of paper.” Mr Justice Mitting

The objection that as APM and the government have worked closely together the decision was practically a given was also rejected. Mr Justice Mitting said that decisions are not made in a vacuum and that prior involvement with the APM would have influenced the decision, but that the review process conducted by government officials was robust.

The second challenge: decision was contrary to policy

The basis for PMI’s second challenge was that the recommendation to grant a Royal Charter was contrary to the Privy Council’s published policy.

Mr Justice Mitting explained a bit about the history of judicial reviews and concluded: “I cannot see how PMI’s challenge can be brought within the established framework of judicial review and I would be prepared to dismiss its claim on that ground alone.”

But he went ahead and reviewed the challenge anyway.

There are five points in the policy for bodies who are applying for Chartered status, and PMI claimed that APM failed to meet three of them. However, Mr Justice Mitting said that the policy makes it clear that these are guidelines and that each case will be decided on merit. Therefore an application that looks like it doesn’t meet the published policy won’t automatically fail.

Mr Justice Mitting dismissed the claims.

What happens now?

And what does that mean? The recommendation that APM is granted Chartered status can go before the Queen’s representatives. While there might be some other steps in the application process, I think it will be ratified which means Chartered status is go.

I haven’t seen a public announcement yet from APM about the next steps for them but we await that announcement with bated breath. Watch this space…!

You can read APM’s statement online and read the whole judgement on the BAILII website.


Project Management News Round Up for June 2014

UK IT industry awards open for nominations

Think your team has what it takes to be named IT Project Team of the Year? Then why not enter the UK IT Industry Awards? There is also a category called ‘Project Excellence Awards’ so if you’ve worked on a successful project you could put yourself forward for one of the following:

  • Big Data/Analytics Project of the Year
  • Network / Infrastructure Project of the Year
  • Data Centre Project of the Year
  • Best Enterprise Mobility Project
  • Best Not For Profit IT Project
  • IT Project Demonstrating Most Effective Use of Collaborative Technology
  • Best use of Cloud Services

You’ve got until 11 July to nominate your project or team and the results will be announced in November.

Customer-centric project managementCustomer-Centric Project Management now available on Nook

If you’ve been waiting until my book, Customer-Centric Project Management, was available on Nook, now is the time to get it from Barnes and Noble. I’m really pleased that it’s available in Nook format, and I hope that makes it more accessible to readers who prefer downloading their books.

While you are at it, why not get the complete Shortcuts to Success series of ebooks as well? My book, Shortcuts to Success: Project Management in the Real World, has been split into 5 ebooks so you don’t have to commit to buying the whole thing if you are only interested in one theme. The titles are:

And they are all now available on Nook, Kindle and Amazon as well as in other places.

APM Chief Exec Steps Down

Andrew Bragg, chief executive of APM, will step down in December. He’s held the position for 10 years and has led the organisation through a period of change including launching the Higher Apprenticeship in PM scheme, launching the competence assessment Registered Project Practitioner, relocating the organisation to new offices and of course steering the organisation through the process for applying for a Royal Charter, which is still ongoing.

The organisation is recruiting for his replacement and it will be interesting to see where they take the organisation next.

PM Student wins award

Charlotte Bamber, a student on the Project Control Foundation Degree at Blackpool & The Fylde College, won the BAE Systems Apprentice Innovation Challenge for designing equipment to help disabled cyclists take part in events. Charlotte was part of a team who responded to the real-life challenge set by Help for Heroes to improve rehabilitation through sport.

“We were delighted to be announced winners of the Apprentice Innovation Challenge,” she said. “Completing this project has enabled me to be involved throughout all phases of the project lifecycle, which has been invaluable, as I have gained an understanding of the engineering side of a project which I have not observed before. It has also provided me with a greater insight in to the fantastic work Help for Heroes do.”

Help a student

If you have a spare 15 minutes at some point soon, why not contribute to this interesting research on behaviour at work. Amy’s dissertation is on Personality and Workplace Behaviour for her MSc in Psychology. It’s anonymous. You can access the survey here.



Free checklist and training course discount

alw-button-122x92-whiteIt’s Adult Learners’ Week, which is a perfect time to dust off that plan to get PDUs or improve your project management skills and learn something new.

And with PMI research saying that 59% of initiatives fail due to insufficient communication, why not focus on upgrading your project communications skills?

To help, I have two offers for you today.

A free project reporting checklist

This is a free PDF document listing 25 things that you should remember for your project status reports.

No need to enter an email address or sign up or anything. Just click here to download it directly.

Better Project Status Reports15% off Better Project Status Reports E-course

Get 15% off my ebook and online course, Better Project Status Reports. It’s a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know to make sure your reports are read and acted on. There’s also the chance for you to have one of your status reports personally reviewed by me.

Use the coupon code ‘alw‘ at the checkout to get the discount and contact me if there are any problems. If you don’t like the course, let me know – there’s a full money back guarantee so you don’t risk anything by giving it a go.

Click here for more info and to buy the course.

I hope both these offers help you improve your project reporting!


Project Management News Round Up for May 2014

Project managers should value stakeholder satisfaction more

The 2014 InformationWeek Project Management Survey is now out. There are some interesting findings including:

  • Only 10% of businesses use metrics to decide when to kill projects
  • 63% say enterprise and IT project management organizational units are separate
  • A shockingly low 34% say that IT projects almost always deliver value to the business.

InformationWeek’s write up of the results says:

Here’s another sign of failure: projects that come in on time and within budget but where customer satisfaction is an afterthought. That’s worth remembering for our respondents, who overwhelmingly chose “on time” as the No. 1 indicator of project success (61%), followed by “within budget” (57%). Stakeholder and sponsor satisfaction trailed at No. 3, with 33%. Talk about out-of-whack priorities.

I’m surprised at this – I always thought Customer-Centric Project Management was a radical idea, but I didn’t expect stakeholder satisfaction to be so low down so many people’s priority lists.

Improvements in megaproject management

It’s unusual for me to cite an academic paper in the News, but this one made The Times of India and I’m sure got referenced elsewhere too. Bent Flyvbjerg from the Said Business School at Oxford University was invited to contribute a paper to the latest Project Management Journal. His paper concludes that it’s time to start thinking differently about ways to manage megaprojects. Most importantly he says that researchers are now starting to feed their outputs into the world of the practitioner so we can benefit from work done in the academic environment. He also says that governance is being tightened (about time!), partly as a result of private finance in megaprojects being on the rise as governments partner with businesses to deliver large infrastructure projects.

For info, he defines a megaproject as one that is measured in billions of dollars and could also be a called a major programme.

APM now offer online publications

Want to rent some online project management books? The APM back catalogue is now available online, including the APM BoK 6th edition. Go to www.coursesmart.co.uk and search for APM. As an example, you can borrow the Earned Value Management guidelines for £7 for 360 days as an ebook rental.

What do you think of the new APM qualifications?

You’ve got until 9am on Tuesday 27 May (next week) to feedback on the draft content and role profiles of the new APM qualifications at IPMA levels C-A. You can read all the related materials and give your feedback online at the APM website here. The new qualifications will be out later this year.

pm4sd_coverNew sustainable development course now available

Project Management for Sustainable Development is a new UK course aimed at the tourism industry, although the training firm offering it (Premier IT) believes that it could have applications beyond tourism. There are Foundation and Practitioner qualifications and the course book is available for £30, which is pretty reasonable given that the PRINCE2 manual retails at around £60.

The qualification was developed by APMG-International in partnership with FEST, the Foundation for European Sustainable Tourism, which is an organization dedicated to supporting organisations in the quest for sustainability in the planning, delivery and management of tourism initiatives.


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