May 2019 UK Project Management Round Up

Not so good news, Lessons learned, More rail projects, Better news, BREXIT and more…



By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK




For those of you who have not visited Shepherd Towers, I look out of my office window towards the famous cathedral, you know, the one the Russian agents came to Salisbury to visit.  Well, I can see the spire, the tallest in UK, and can also see the seasons change.  Judging by the trees, it is now Spring.  However, there are other signs of a new season and all on TV:  the English Premier League Rugby is all but over (2 more games to go) and is being replaced by Aussie Rules football; the Indian Premier League cricket is drawing to a conclusion, to be replaced by I know not what; and the hockey, both men’s and women’s hockey (field variety for US readers) Pro League is closing too.

With the change in season, we can hope there is a change in the project world too, but I don’t really see much different this month compared to last month.  However, there are some lessons to learn, some good news and some not so good news so let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first before moving on to more cheerful topics.


Two items can only be classified as disaster, rather than not so good:  the appalling terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and the devastating fire that almost destroyed Notre Dame in Paris.  Both events will spawn projects and programmes but this reaction to awful events is not how we would like to see projects initiated.  Let’s hope that good project management can help restore order.  I’ll come back to the Notre Dame fire shortly.

I suspect that British politicians are much like those in other countries and are not noted for their understanding of projects beyond the primitive time and cost aspects.  So the news that the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has discovered what they call an “unacceptably laissez-faire” attitude to project costs from the overlapping organisations in a major infrastructure project comes as something of a surprise.  The PAC have issued a report criticising cost management after three emergency cash injections.  Most of us would have noticed after the first bail-out but it takes three rescue bids for politicians to notice something is wrong.  Anyway, the Great British Public (GBP) have coughed up more dosh and have seen the cost of the Elizabeth Line rise from £14.8bn to £17.6bn.  Oh, and it will not open for another year at least.


Lessons learned are always mentioned after disasters as those responsible always claim to have learned something.  When it comes to international lessons learned, it seems even more difficult to actually learn lessons.  I was not therefore surprised to read in the UK Press that old buildings are at their most vulnerable when they are under repair.  Examples on this side of the Channel include Windsor Castle (1992) and the two fires at the Glasgow School of Art (2014 and 2018).

Glasgow School of Art 2018 fire.  Photo courtesy Police Scotland

On each occasion, the historic buildings were under renovation.  Very old buildings present complex problems including access, large voids and ancient timber, to name but a few.  The results of fires in these buildings is expensive.  Estimates for reconstructing Notre Dame are in the range of £1bn according to Alan Dunlop, visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool.  It was initially feared that Windsor Castle would cost £60 million to restore, though the final cost was £36.5 million (equivalent to £60million in today’s money), and that drying out the castle would take 10 years.  Apparently, President Macron intends to complete the restoration of Notre Dame by 2024, in time for the Paris Olympics.  There are extensive press reports on the feasibility of this plan and possible consequences of working to such a demanding timetable.  Windsor and Notre Dame are of similar ages – what chance of learning any lessons across national boundaries?


To read entire report, click here


How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2019).  Not so good news, Lessons learned, More rail projects, Better news, BREXIT and more: May 2019 UK Project Management Roundup, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue IV (May).  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/pmwj81-May2019-Shepherd-UK-Project-Management-Round-Up.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/.