September 2022 UK Project Management Round Up


Bad Project News, Mixed News,

Good News, The Peljesac Bridge

and Bionic Project Managers



By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK


Regular readers will know that the high summer in UK is characterized by minimal fresh news and sensationalist reporting of he few newsworthy events that do take place.  This report is intended to show that the good folk of the Fifth Estate are just lazy and ill-informed as I bring to you news of some Bad News (again on the IT front), some news that could be either good or bad depending on your point of view and some definitely good news before rounding off with news of a major project completion in Croatia, a mention of a new outcome from a major UK project and a sinister development that may affect project managers.  First, the Bad News.


Reporting problems with IT projects is a little like shooting fish in barrels but the reports this month do illustrate a PM Lesson (#6, following the report in this column in Jan 21).  First is a poorly implemented system upgrade and then we have a system that won’t allow an upgrade.

  • Upgrade Issue. Back in February, Next, the fashion retailer, upgraded their Oracle Payroll system.  The upgrade has been a major problem that has left a large number of the fashion retailer’s 43,000-strong workforce underpaid over several months.  At a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing, this has left low-paid staff struggling with reports of some having to rely on food banks.  To add to the impact of the failed upgrade, there are reports that Next deducted some staff pension contributions without investing them into their retirement pots; no doubt this has now been resolved but it leaves Next with major reputational damage.  This is in sharp contrast to their track record – they have been widely praised for coming through the retail crisis and the pandemic in good shape. The retailer reported pre-tax profits of £823 million last year, the highest in its 40-year history.
  • Legacy Failures. I was horrified while doing my background checks on IT failures to see just how many and varied these are.  Readers may recall previous reports in these pages of major systems failure, often but not exclusively related to upgrades.  Major failures at British Airways (2018 and continuing), TSB (2018) and the Post Office Counters disaster all point to an industry-wide problem.  The problem with Bank IT systems was so acute in 2018 that the Treasury Select Committee (a group of Members of Parliament) demanded that banks be made to pay larger levies to regulators so that they can tackle the “unacceptanksble” number of IT failures in the financial services sector.  Steve Baker, who led the Treasury committee at the time said “For too long, financial institutions issue hollow words after their systems have failed, which is of no help to customers left cashless and cut off.” The regulators have so far come up with no improvements or obvious action to prevent further disasters.
  • Lessons? One common feature of these banking failures (and others, particularly the BA problems) seems to be that they occur in legacy systems or on handover to new systems.  Legacy systems are notorious for the problems they present in terms of aging technology but the costs of developing new systems with up to date operating systems, extensive security and resilience requirements makes their development a major challenge both technically and financially.  From a PM perspective, it seems unlikely that Agile approaches would be effective since limited change would meet regulatory requirements.  Rolling several changes together and using a Waterfall approach seems to have similar limitations and would need greater testing.  Is there a lesson here for Project Managers, I hear you ask?  Methodologically, I doubt it but the obvious answer has to be to make sure there is adequate time for testing.  Lesson #6 avoid Big Bang change overs.


Sizewell C.  If you are a fan of improving the National Energy resilience, news of nuclear progress will be welcome.  There has been little news since the January announcement of £100 million and continuing support for the project.  There have been major concerns about the viability of the project as the proposed developers, EDF, have had financial problems that resulted in a bail out by the French Government (see my report on nuclear finances last month) and it took Government intervention to achieve planning consent.  So news that leaked out at the end of the month that Boris Johnson, Our Illustrious Leader (OIL) to avoid confusion between Project Manager and Prime Minister(PM), has apparently agreed to part fund the proposed construction of the Sizewell C…


To read entire report, click here

How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2022).  September 2022 UK Project Management Roundup, report, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue IX, September. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/pmwj121-Sep2022-Shepherd-UK-project-management-roundup-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/.