Mega Projects - Opportunities and Challenges

Mega-Project Management. Opportunities and Challenges.

This post is a short primer for the APAC #PMChat on 25th July 2017 (10.00PM US Eastern) / 26th July 2017 (12.00PM Australia (Sydney, Melbourne), where we will be discussing mega-projects and the challenges and opportunities that they present the Project Management profession (details and Questions are below).

Mega Projects – how can we help drive public understanding?

When you think of mega-projects, what comes to mind?

Big ticket, high profile, high complexity, long term programs of work?

  • Inter-city rail lines
  • Shipping ports
  • Colonising Mars
  • Airports
  • Floating wind farms in the North Sea
  • Rebuilding drainage systems in London
  • Creating a national broadband network in Australia

Mega-projects often grab the headlines and capture our imagination, providing wonderful opportunities to break new ground and build never-before seen solutions.

But look beyond the headline and we can see that they also bring a long list of opportunities and challenges for our profession.

It’s exciting to see the emergence of a substantial public debate about how to actually manage and deliver these larger-than-life projects. The debate is certainly necessary because when we think about project management on this scale, we hit some unique challenges, straight up.

  1. How do governments work with the private sector to fund national-scale spending, with investment timelines measured in decades?
  2. How do we stakeholders, scope, risk and expectations where our stakeholders form governments, manage portfolio funding from around the world and have impacted users that number in the millions?
  3. How do our traditional project management roles, titles and areas of influence work in a Mega-Project where the team may number in the hundreds or thousands?
  4. How can the Mega-PMO help governments prioritise investment spending?

Our profession is maturing, no question about that. The increased blending of public and private funding for major infrastructure projects is demanding far greater investment oversight and rigor.  The evolution of independent mega-PMOs is a terrific step forward, giving the profession a seat at the government table and a voice in policy decisions.

Personally, I’d like to see Project Management experts take a more prominent role in public discussion. We regularly see industry experts and lobbyists in the media – writing opinion pieces, sitting of talk shows, contributing to think tanks, driving discussions and public understanding of the large policy discussions.

Our profession across the world has matured to a point where it can speak confidently in these circles. I think we need a louder Project Management voice at the large, public discussions. We need experts talking about the benefits, opportunities, costs and threats arising from our big nation-building projects.

#PMChat Questions

During the next APAC #PMChat  we will explore Project Management in the context of Mega-Projects.

What opportunities and challenges does the Project Management profession face when helping drive mega-project outcomes?

We’ll start things off with two contextual questions to set the scene.

Q1. What are the high profile mega-projects in your country? How visible or well-known are they in public discussion? #PMChat

Q2. Have you worked on any mega-projects? Do you have any favourite memories or experiences to share? #PMChat

Then, four questions to talk about specific challenges and opportunities for contemporary Project Management.

Q3. PM lifecycle/approach for mega-projects => should we use an “off the shelf” approach or is a custom-designed model needed? #PMChat

Q4. Mega-Projects often have long lead times. How can we untangle this complexity & help government & public see tangible progress? #PMChat

Q5. Mega-Project governance can be very political. How can PM techniques help push through the politics & provide clarity? #PMChat

Q6. Does the mega-PMO’s role & structure change? Are they constant regardless of project size, or do they evolve? #PMChat

Finally, two questions about how we can respond to mega-project management opportunities in our own practices.

Q7.  Mega-projects require highly specialised roles. Should the mega-PM have all-round or specialist skills, or a mix of both? #PMChat

Q8.  If you were to work on a mega-project, how would you position yourself? Where do you see the best opportunities? Why? #PMChat

I do hope you can join us for the APAC #PMChat (25th July 2017 (10.00PM USA Eastern), 26th July 2017 (12.00PM Australia (Sydney, Melbourne)) and have your say!