Improving Project Delivery

Project: Research council

Project Details


This research project is a collaboration between academia, industry and the non-ministerial department responsible for the oversight and effective delivery of major projects and programmes in government, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA). We seek to enrich societies' understanding of the project and programme delivery landscape by generating high-quality evidence and insights that will inform future policy making, improve ministerial awareness and drive the development of the project delivery profession.Projects are temporary, flexible organisational structures that are now the central way in which large scale, complicated systems and change programmes are delivered. New transport, energy and water infrastructure systems are typically delivered in projects, as are most large scale military systems like aircraft carriers. Similarly, when government seeks to implement a major policy that will transform how government delivers services and interacts with citizens, it will typically use projects to implement that policy change. Unfortunately projects have a tendency to run over-budget, take longer than planned to finish and sometimes don't delivery the outcomes that were promised. It is common to find projects' costs and delivery times more than double, and many major projects have to be cancelled. When projects are delivered, they often represent poor value for money in hindsight and under-perform. Because the UK has so many large and expensive projects, the potential costs of poor performance are very high.However, in recent years the UK has developed a world-class ability to delivery complex projects. The UK has some major project successes (Heathrow T5, the 2012 London Olympics, Crossrail, etc). This suggests poor performance is not inevitable. It is not easy to understand why some projects are successes and others perform poorly. This research project aims to deepen understanding of how project delivery can be improved. By working in partnership between university researchers and the Government, we aim to help the UK Government set up, deliver and hand over projects more effectively. In doing so, we hope to help reduce the costs of projects, ensure more are delivered on time, and improve how effectively they deliver final outcomes, so that Government policy is implemented more successfully. Because project are so expensive, and many are subject to cost-overruns and lower than expected outcomes, the potential cost-savings for the UK from this research are very significant, and could easily run into many billions of pounds. To delivery on this potential, the research project proactively engages with the UK policy and practitioner communities and provide them with targeted, high quality research across six sub-theme that address: Theme A: Defining value, understanding performance, achieving success over the life-cycle Theme B: Front end and back end management practices Theme C: Data quality and use as performance drivers Theme D: Assurance, reporting and governance Theme E: Capability & knowledge management Theme F: Transformational projectsThese sub-projects were co-designed with research users, to ensure our research addresses important questions. For some research we will be able to use high quality data that is being opened up to academics for the first time. Moreover, by having a larger research project across a number of universities, we can use more standardized methods to improve the quality of research, and make it more robust and useful. By working closely with the IPA our research findings can lead directly into changes in mandated Government advice to projects managers. The research fits within a wider body of research on improving the performance and profitability of project-based firms in the UK, which aims to improve their performance in international markets, creating high value jobs i
Effective start/end date6/12/185/12/21


  • Economic and Social Research Council


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