A truly staggering statistic depicts that as many as 76% of programmes fail to deliver business benefits. Shockingly, there is also no evidence that this statistic is showing any signs of improvement. After reading this interesting speech from Nick Smallwood, Head of Government’s Project Delivery Function, we wanted to discuss our own opinions on major projects, and setting them up for success. Whilst we agree with most of the main points in the speech, and we follow Government thought leadership, we thought it would be beneficial to share our own views in the capacity of practitioners.

The 3P’s: People, Principles and Performance

Focusing on the 3P’s: People, Principles and Performance is hugely beneficial for any programme. We agree that “the success or failure of a project is often determined in its early stages”, yet we feel that Major Projects can be at high risk of failure throughout all the initial stages. At the very start of a programme there are no people, principles, or performance. Instead, these are all built throughout the programme. However, the main principles of the programme can be imitated from other successful programmes. It is also important to remember that the principles of a programme should be converted into the Government policies. Instead, we find that the challenges of setting major projects up for success lie with the people and performance.

What is the People Challenge?

At the crux of any programme is the people you hire to do it. The right people will understand the risks of any programme, and this is often the most challenging aspect. The difficulty is that you may not know you have hired the wrong person, until the programme is well underway. There is often a limited time to get the project initiation going and this can result in quick hiring, based on who is available, rather than who is most qualified. The sole reliance on the people making the project successful, is one of the most common mistakes when managing a programme. Ultimately, the people you hire will determine whether the project is successful. So how do you get it right, rather than relying only on the “hope” that they will make it successful?

How to hire right for your Major Projects

One way to ensure that your project will be successful is to use combinations of people who have already successfully delivered another programme. This will give you extra assurance that your project will be a success. For example, you may have an IT programme you need to deliver on. It would therefore make sense to use a core team who have delivered on other programmes, including a Programme Director, Programme Manager, Solution Architect, Technical Architect, and other key functional resources. This will instil confidence that both the people and performance are manageable. However, it is important to ensure that you make the right choice between hiring permanent staff or contractors.

There is little emphasis in Government to ensure that combinations of successful teams are replicated, even though this is an obvious way to drive positive results. Each resource tends to follow their own career path, and perhaps stumble on each other by accident, if at all.

At Mindful, we emphasise the important of key specialist teams in encouraging success for Major Projects. This is our main aim when supporting on any Programmes. To find out more about how we can help drive successful programmes, get in touch for an initial consultation.