January 2020 UK Project Management Round Up


Political Scene, Election Consequences, HS2, BREXIT, MI6, AI and the next decade



By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK




Here we are in a new decade and it is not free from controversy as decades are apparently a modern construct – more of this shortly.  The big news here is that UK has survived another General Election so we need to look at what we can expect in terms of projects, portfolios and programmes from a national Government that has a majority in the house.  There are some internal projects to look at and some random stuff that caught my eye over the holiday season.  So let’s get the nasty stuff out of the way first and start with the political situation here in UK.


This is good news for some and bad for others as the results were unexpected and how you view this outcome depends on your political orientation.  It is rarely possible to forecast numbers in election results, a point that many involved with projects would do well to remember.  The reason for this election inaccuracy is that forecasts are compiled from how voters say they will vote – and many resent the intrusion of pollsters and so do not report accurately.  Does this sound familiar to any project managers out there?

Anyhow, come the day after, the results looked like this:

For many voters, it was a question of voting for the least worst candidate.  Magic Grandad, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, led his party to its worst result since 1935, losing seats that had never been held by a Conservative since the seat was established, which must say something about the credibility of what was a largely Marxist manifesto.  Similarly, many doubted the loyalty of their leader who has been a vocal supporter of both the IRA and various lost causes in South America.

The Liberal Democrats lost their leader who campaigned on a ticket to abolish BREXIT, thus ignoring the majority who had voted in favour some 3 years ago.  So no real surprise there.  We had a choice between the Liberals who proposed to ignore a democratic vote, the Conservative threatening a “No-Deal” BREXIT and the Labour party who were not entirely sure what they stood for but they would not support a Conservative push for exit.

Now we need to live with the consequences…


Now the rain has eased, threats of floods receded and the holiday season almost over (at the time of writing) the Great British Public (GBP) can take a longer and more dispassionate view of the election results and what they mean.  GBP is realistic enough to know that the reality of election manifesto is likely to be less than the Utopian offering before the election.  Nonetheless, some promises seem likely to be kept.

One of the big-ticket items is a super defence agency to be located in the North of England.  This would benefit from Highspeed 2 (HS2), more of which later, and two prospects have emerged to level up investment outside the so-called “golden Triangle” of London, Oxford and Cambridge.  The first is a new “advanced research projects agency” with £800 million to play with.  This might seem a lot of dosh to the man in the street but is not a lot in terms of Defence research.  Still, it is a start and the PM has said the Government will double research and development spending to £18 billion within five years in a “new wave of economic growth” after Brexit.  The Times reported a government source as saying: “The will is there to ensure that we think beyond Oxford, Cambridge and London when we site these new bodies.”  Rumour has it that the new Agency might be modelled on the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA.  It is thought to be responsible for the development of GPS, stealth aircraft and, of course, its renown DARPANET – an early form of internet.  The new agency provides an agile basis for investment, innovation and exploitation of promising technology.

The Government has also let it be known that there is a proposal “to rip up government investment rules”.  Under this plan, ministers would be able to reassess how value for money is calculated across a range of infrastructure projects, as well as business and scientific development. Decision-making would focus on improving wellbeing or narrowing the productivity gap between North and South and less on national economic growth.  It seems a start has been made with the news that the troubled Northern Rail contract is to be terminated over concerns about its “nightmare” performance.


To read entire report, click here


How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2020).  January 2020 UK Project Management Roundup, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue I, January.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/pmwj89-Jan2020-Shepherd-UK-Regional-Report.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 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 is currently 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.  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/.