April 2020 UK Project Management Round Up

The Step Pyramid Project of Djoser, Bad news from HS2, Impact of Covid-19 on UK projects & PM


REPORT (March 22, 2020)

By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK




There is really only one topic dominating the news in UK this month – the Coronavirus.  With the capacity to wreck the national economy, the Government is mounting an emergency project to protect the country and people’s lives.


There is precious little good news this month with doom and gloom the order of the day for the British economy, and most others too, so it is not just a British problem.  But if you look you will find, and I noted that a long-term project in Egypt has completed successfully after 14 years.  What, you might ask, has this got to do with British project management?  Well, the project relates to one of the pyramids – the Step Pyramid of Djoser and a key part was played by a British engineer, Peter James, and colleagues from his Newport firm Cintec.

The objective of the project was to prevent the world’s oldest remaining building from collapsing.  The Step Pyramid, built by Imhotep, is the resting place of the pharaoh Djoser whose burial chamber is almost 100ft underground. The pharaoh’s sarcophagus is still in place. But the mummy, and traditional grave goods have not been found, apart from a piece of wood that some previous restoration used as a ceiling beam. The construction contains more than 11 million cubic feet of stone and is 203ft high.

Diagram: The Times

The project team, as well as Egypt’s leading experts, were finally able to celebrate the completion of one of the most complex pieces of reconstruction in modern Egyptian history.  The 14-year project has faced many problems including the revolution of 2011 which brought work to a standstill for two years.  The task was dangerous as well as technically challenging.

The main danger was the interior of the burial chamber where holes had appeared in the roof of the burial chamber.  The Times reported Mr James as saying “We couldn’t use drills because it might have shifted the stone and collapsed it all around us,”  Engineers used a form of airbag to protect the walls and ceilings as they drove in steel anchors.

Archaeologists regard the pyramid as the prototype for all of Egypt’s others.  It is also the world’s oldest surviving intact stone structure.  Mr James has another project on the books – the “Bent Pyramid” — the first smooth-sided pyramid, whose unsuccessful original construction gave it the distinctive shape.



To read entire report, click here


How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2020).  March 2020 UK Project Management Roundup, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue IV, April.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/pmwj92-Apr2020-Shepherd-UK-Regional-Report1.pdf



About the Author

Miles Shepherd

Salisbury, UK




Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World Journal 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, Vice President and Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM), Miles is also past president and chair and a Fellow of the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  He was a Director for PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and is immediate past Chair of the ISO committee developing new international standards for Project Management and for Program/Portfolio Management.  Miles is Chair of the British Standards Institute’s Committee on Project, Programme and Portfolio Management and has been involved in the development of Uk’s BSI 6079 for more than 25 years.  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 miles.shepherd@msp-ltd.co.uk.

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