October 2021 UK Project Management Round Up


Sad news, bad news, good news,

English hedgerows and two Cricket stories



By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK


We are well into Autumn now and the bulk of what has been another difficult year for most of us is in the past.   This month there is sad news, bad news and good news so let’s start with the sad, work through the bad and end up with the good.  We also reflect on the end of the sporting season with some notes on unexpected encounters.


Many of you will know of Professor Peter Morris either a groundbreaking academic or as an author and editor of several classic project related books.  As you may have read in our Breaking News, Peter died after many years of fighting cancer and Parkinson’s Disease.  He was a man of many parts as you can read in our appreciation elsewhere.  I felt his major contribution was to open the door to the recognition of project management as a profession by demonstrating the full range of roles performed, and their importance, thus taking us out of a minor technical niche and into the space where our contribution could be made in many different ways.  He will be much missed, for his research insights, skills as an editor, breadth of learning, work in professional institutions and as an outstanding project manager.


One bit of bad news concerns the Ajax light tank.  Regular readers may recollect reports that the armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) programme is in trouble.  The programme provides a family of “complex, fully-digitised, land vehicle project delivering trans-formational change to the Army’s armoured fleet; providing a step-change in capability to the British Army” according to the Ministry of Defence’s bespoke trading entity Defence Equipment and Supplies (DE&S).  The programme includes five other variants, named Ares, Athena, Atlas, Apollo and Argus covering roles ranging from troop carrying to recovery and command and control.  It’s main role is to support of the British Army’s new Strike Brigades.

At about £5.5 billion, the Ajax programme is the biggest single order for armoured vehicle in over 20 years and involves some 4,100 jobs across more than 230 UK suppliers so it is important in many ways.  However, the AFV variant has been plagued with problems and trials were halted in the summer as crews reported injuries due to excessive noise and vibration.

Ajax Scout Variant – Image: General Dynamics UK

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank claims the programme is now in crisis, with Ministers briefing that they had not been informed about the problems by senior military officers.  This is the project manager’s nightmare as here the sponsor is accused of not keeping the Board informed.  The Times goes further claiming that Ministers believe they have been “deceived” on the extent of the problems… and are searching for those to blame, according to defence sources.  An unnamed defence source is quoted as saying: “Ministers now know that they have been deceived on Ajax and they fully intend to identify those responsible.”  Ministers are notorious for reading what they want to see rather than actually listen to bad news so there must be some doubt about whether they were appropriately briefed – think Emperor’s New clothes.  The other side of this particular coin is the likelihood of cancelling a major programme as part of the so-called “Integrated Review”.  No-one wants to be responsible for wrecking a major job creation programme – bad news however you look at it.


To read entire report, click here

How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2021). UK Project Management Round Up, report, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue X, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/pmwj110-Oct2021-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, 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/