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New insights from Aurecon and AIPM call for best practice to drive successful economic recovery projects

Aurecon and AIPM insights on specialist project management.

Aurecon and the Australian Institute of Project Management share insights to support Australia's economic recovery in response to COVID-19.

14 September 2020 – New insights from international engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon and the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) highlight the need for specialist project management expertise to help revive Australia’s economy in response to COVID-19.

As federal and state governments allocate billions of dollars’ worth of shovel ready infrastructure projects in an effort to boost local economies, the ‘Specialist project management – the engine of successful economic recovery’ paper provides actionable insights and recommendations on key elements of good project management to ensure projects are successful.

Aurecon Program Advisory Managing Principal Nathan Agnew said this was a profound moment in history with an opportunity to positively impact generations to come by reshaping the future of project management through tackling existing problems and establishing best practices.

“The pressure to deliver large volumes of shovel ready projects could exacerbate weaknesses in organisations’ structures and processes. Agencies with significant increases in capital spend often need a significant uplift in governance, skills and expertise to deliver the spend in a strategic and diligent way.

“These problems are not new, but if the project management profession can tackle the issue collaboratively with government, we could reshape the future of project management and deliver the best outcomes for Australia,” said Mr. Agnew.

Critical factors of best practice in professional project management were outlined in the paper, including making sense of uncertainty with a scalable methodology and creating a more human centred management culture.

Mr. Agnew pointed out that many project issues are avoidable if a structure, risk-based, adaptable methodology that assesses every aspect of a project is implemented.

“Taking an evidence-based approach to decision making in a project is essential as it helps navigate uncertainty, provides assurance and ultimately underpins success. Those who are realising success combine specialist project management expertise, with capital project assurance expertise, to identify, communicate and mitigate program and project risk, reduce ballooning costs and safeguard the value of assets,” said Mr. Agnew.

Developing a human centric management culture

In the ever changing COVID-19 environment, fears around job security and increased pressure to rush and push teams to deliver projects beyond fair and reasonable limits are also risk factors.

Aurecon Program Advisory Manager Lachlan Waite warned of the risk to continue and accept these behaviours as a trade-off for increased employment in the project management sector.

“Traditionally project management focuses on process and procedure, but it often results in negative impacts on the people at the centre of these projects. This situation poses a great chance for organisations to step forward and develop a human centric management culture which moves away from process type project management and focuses on the people.

“Embracing a consistent, nationally coordinated approach will help us become nimbler to respond to future challenges, shape our own destiny and deliver success for the country, community and the project management profession,” said Mr. Waite.

The paper highlights learnings from past recovery projects, such as a lack of coordination at a national level in terms of qualification and structure for project management. A consistent approach to qualification in the market is recommended to strengthen project management capability and increase the skillset in public sector.

AIPM CEO Elizabeth Foley said “It is essential that specialist and competent project managers are at the helm of shovel ready infrastructure projects that are brought forward to ensure the money directed to these projects is spent efficiently.”

AIPM advocates for competency-based certification, not just book learning for project management professionals. Foley explained, “You wouldn’t want a pilot operating a plane without training, or a builder constructing a house without having the relevant certifications. Why should project management be any different?”

“A project manager who has been evaluated for their project management capabilities through our national certification program is showing potential employers that they have the training and learning that the project management profession requires and the skills needed to fulfil business objectives and standards across industries,” explained Foley.

Explore the full paper

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