Dada Enterprises event explores Brexit impact on project delivery

04 December 2018 Consultancy.uk

Dada Enterprises, a business consultancy based in London, recently organised a round-table for project managers. The event brought together delegates from around the UK and across numerous sectors to hear from a range of speakers to explore the impact of Brexit on project delivery. 

Held at the prestigious Institute of Directors (IoD), Dada’s round-table looked at how project leaders could apply Agile PMO, risk management, project governance, procurement and change management to the range of project controls and management challenges Brexit will pose. The event’s title of “How to ‘Brexit-Proof’ your project strategy before December 14th 2018” highlighted that the December 14th is the date of the last European Council of 2018. This is widely seen as the last practical date for an Article 50 divorce deal to be signed off. With only a limited transition period, all businesses who trade with and within the UK need to have a transition strategy in place by December 14th or be at a disadvantage of not fully exploiting the transition period.

The event kicked off with an opening address from Sachin Melwani, Managing Director of Dada Enterprises, who gave an overview of the Brexit timeline, the various Brexit options available and the potential project delivery impacts. Commenting on the Brexit negotiations Sachin observed that “The UK will have to make some stark choices over its Brexit strategy and red lines.” On the transition period – a 21-month transition period has been agreed upon with Brussels starting from Brexit’s go-live date of 29 March 2019 – he commented: “With only a limited transition period, companies need to understand the organisational, project, and resource impact of these macro decisions is key to fully exploiting any transition period and reducing the impact on their bottom line.”

Dada Enterprises event explores Brexit impact on project deliveryRohit Tawlar, acclaimed futurologist, then put Brexit in the context of the other highly disruptive changes happening in the world in parallel – which are creating a more complex and multi-faceted business world (e.g. trade tensions, data security, war, terrorism, natural disasters). Tawlar then put Brexit in the context of the “other elephant”, Artificial Intelligence, to address the core question of how humanity can be kept at the centre of the story in the face of powerful technological shifts reshaping the world and straining the old social fabric.

Finally, the participants were treated to an energetic and interactive workshop session by Stuart Easton, CEO of Transparent Choice, whose company helps governmental bodies and non-profits identify and eliminate 10% to 40% of waste in their portfolio. Easton explained how strategically aligned projects benefit business value. “They are 57% more likely to achieve business goals, 50% more likely to finish on time, and 45% more likely to finish on budget,” he highlighted. 

Easton then showed how AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process) to align and prioritise projects can be used to eliminate waste and place the spotlights on the most important programmes and projects. An interactive workshop was held with different teams reflecting the Cabinet in Brexit negotiation scenarios to demonstrate the importance of a “good strategic” fit between teams, since changes may sometimes not be understood by delivery teams nor agreed to by senior management.

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Managing the demand for change in project management

16 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

The forward-looking nature of project management means that regardless of the type of project, thorough planning and risk assessment are essential to ensure it is delivered on time, on budget, and in line with the client’s requirements – while delivering the expected results. Consultants Eman Al-Hillawi and Peter Marsden elaborate in the article below. 

However, it is important to recognise that in this fast-moving working environment, and with projects increasing in scale and complexity, a degree of change is inevitable. Putting the right mitigation strategies in place early on can provide project managers with much-needed agility, allowing them to respond quickly to any new issues that arise.

When the goalposts move or project managers are issued with an unexpected client request, adopting a holistic approach is essential to ensure that changes are implemented successfully the first time around, reducing the risk of any problems arising in the future. Rather than considering the demand for change in one area of a project in isolation, it is important to conduct a full impact assessment, taking into account any knock-on effects on people, processes, systems and infrastructure. For example, a sudden need to digitalise a key HR process may have implications for recruitment, or the need to upskill existing staff through new training programmes, or both. 

Implementing a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) can also enhance project managers’ ability to spot interdependencies and better manage unforeseen changes. Where a number of projects or programmes are being undertaken simultaneously, this function is particularly useful, providing stakeholders with increased visibility and driving intelligent decision-making. For example, spotting an unexpected delay to a particular project could enable resources to be reallocated across the portfolio at an early stage, helping to drive efficiencies within the business and keeping budgets on track. 

Managing the demand for change in project management

As part of their efforts to make the most of available resources while keeping costs under control, project managers should consider using blended teams wherever possible. By combining the organisation’s existing employees with different skills and experienced project managers, it is easier to ensure that the correct levels of skills and resources are utilised at each stage of a project. Furthermore, this method can provide the additional flexibility needed to respond quickly to new developments without unnecessarily prolonging project timelines or increasing costs. 

It is worth bearing in mind that introducing some mitigation strategies may require an initial cost outlay and, as such, effective communication with stakeholders from the very beginning of a project is key. One example is to allocate a contingency budget to the project. This helps to facilitate the project manager’s ability to address key issues that require unplanned spend, without the need to undergo a time-consuming budget approval process. By educating all involved parties about the inevitability of change during projects, it is possible to put buffers in place, both financially and in terms of the project timeline. Over the course of a project, this should enable project managers to react quickly to change and take effective action without compromising on the timescales and delivery of client objectives. 

Likewise, where project delivery is reliant upon large and diverse teams, clearly communicating the impact of unexpected changes, and the required response, is also vital to ensure everyone is on the same page and disruption to day-to-day processes is kept to a minimum. When curveballs to project delivery occur, a failure to brief the team on how these should be addressed could also have a significant impact on levels of motivation and morale, which in turn has the potential to have a negative impact on productivity across a project. 

While meticulous forward planning will always be an essential element of project management, it’s equally important to recognise that to a certain extent, change is unavoidable. The ability to respond effectively to new developments as they occur is therefore vital. By making change a central part of discussions with stakeholders and clearly communicating with all parties on a programme, project managers can take new issues in their stride while continuing to deliver exceptional results for clients. 

Eman Al-Hillawi and Peter Marsden are principal consultants at business change consultancy Entec Si.