How Adequate is Your Delivery Platform?



By Pascal Bohulu Mabelo

South Africa

Typical scenario:   A list of projects to be delivered over the next three financial years has just landed on the desk of the newly appointed chief projects officer of a major corporation, courtesy of the last “strategic planning session”.

Typical response: Well, let us hire a few project managers with great credentials, then procure a well-branded project management software—and go down the never-ending spiral of challenged projects.

What have we missed here? It takes an adequate delivery platform as a “system” to beget projects.

Need for a Project Delivery Platform

We have learned from nature that the ability to “deliver” largely depends on the capability of the womb. Most animals can only deliver according to the type, the capacity, and the cycle of their respective wombs. For instance, most birds can only lay eggs, whereas the pregnancy cycle and “batch size” for common animals are suggested as follows: rabbits, 31 days and up to 5 cubs; dogs, 64 days and up to 7 or even 12 puppies; elephants, 22 months and a single cub; doves, 2 weeks and two eggs; and mother-Kangaroo only keeps one Joey in her pouch. Different patterns and different outputs; hence, different “wombs” (delivery factories) are needed for different portfolios of projects.

We have also observed from the animal kingdom that a “defective” womb would impair delivery by negatively affecting its cycle (e.g., causing miscarriage or prolonged pregnancy) or even its output (e.g., resulting in stillborn or pseudo pregnancy). Any of the above predicaments may have serious consequences on the welfare and the state of mind of the mother animal, and can even last quite a long time after the unfortunate failed delivery.

The same womb-delivery dynamics apply to project management since the ability to deliver projects largely depends on the capabilities in place, just as ordinarily applies to manufacturing (i.e., factory). However, Project management mainly differs from manufacturing (viz. operations) as follows:

  • Projects deliver a single, novel “outcome” as opposed to a high volume or line production
  • Projects deliver highly varied “outcomes” as opposed to low variety, mass production

What then should constitute the Project Delivery Platform? In other words, what elements should be put together to create a “factory” or “womb” for projects? We should try and answer this question while keeping in mind the three aspects of delivery as discussed above, namely, the type, cycle, and throughput. The various forms and setup of the Project Management Office ought to ensure that the right projects are delivered effectively and efficiently!

With regards to any factory, it is no secret that the makeup and configuration of the machinery, manpower, and processes largely determine the following:

  • Type of delivery (i.e., the kind of commodity or product to be produced);
  • Delivery cycle (i.e., how long it takes to produce it); and,
  • Delivery capacity or throughput (i.e., how big a batch can be produced at any point in time).

Incidentally, although a project is a novel initiative to produce a unique product, service, or result, there remains a need for a “womb” or Project Delivery Platform to allow for seamless (i.e., effective and efficient) delivery of the projects that are generated, prioritised, and governed via a portfolio management process.

If one would agree that the shape and size of the Project Delivery Platform (which here represents the womb for projects, i.e., the core of the Project Management Office) determines the type of projects, their delivery cycle, and throughput, then we might as well understand that a faulty or dysfunctional Project Delivery Platform will negatively affect the delivery cycle and throughput of projects. We often witness recurrent patterns of projects failing to materialise, being terminated, or simply taking too long to complete. Blaming it on the project managers will not help; they could be toiling within an environment that is not supportive of their efforts. We need to check the Project Delivery Platform of the organisation concerned, if we are to assume there is one such in place!


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Mabelo, P. B. (2023). How Adequate is Your Project Delivery Platform; featured paper, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue XII, December. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/pmwj136-Dec2023-Mabelo-How-Adequate-is-Your-Project-Delivery-Platform.pdf 

Editor’s note: This paper is a modified version of an article by the author titled A well-documented strategy—The need for project management infrastructure published in The Project Manager, Issue 10, 2011, by PMSA in South Africa.

About the Author

Pascal Bohulu Mabelo

Johannesburg, South Africa


Pascal Bohulu Mabelo, MBA, MSc (Industrial), BSc (Civil), Pr. Eng, Pr. CPM, Pr. PMSA, PMP, has more than 25 years of professional experience and possesses a wide range of technical and managerial skills on large and complex infrastructure projects. He has worked in large infrastructure projects as a design engineer, project/programme manager, project consultant and project management executive. Pascal was honoured to serve as the national chairman of Project Management South Africa (PMSA), the leading Project Management professional association in Southern Africa.

Pascal has published the book: “Managing Engineering Processes in Large Infrastructure Projects” (Cambridge, 2021); he has also published, “How to Manage Project Stakeholders—Effective Strategies for Large Infrastructure Projects” (Routledge, 2020) and “Operational Readiness—How to Achieve Successful System Deployment” (Routledge, 2020). Through various other publications and journal articles, he assiduously promotes the application of Systems Thinking and/or Systems Engineering principles, concepts, and practices to unravel complexity in Large Infrastructure Projects (LIPs) to address their persistent risks of failure and their massive, even pernicious, cost and schedule overruns.

Pascal is currently a Director and Principal Consultant at E 6 Project Consulting or E6PC; for comments, further information, and clarifications he may be contacted at Consult@e6pc.com