Project Management In The Public Sector

Project Management Training For the Public Sector – Federal, State and Local Government

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has concluded that there are serious deficiencies in the project management capabilities of Commonwealth government agencies. Of twenty public service Capability Reviews conducted by the APSC, eleven noted that agencies struggle with project management skills and program management practices.[1]

In its review of project management capability within the APS, the APSC made particular reference to the findings of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program[2] which included that the responsible agency DEWHA had “next to no project management ability”.

The situation is not confined to Australia. The public sector projects landscape is littered with failures and disasters which are usually accompanied by damning investigations and reports. Why is it so difficult everywhere to get it right?

The public sector is not alone. In our experience, it is fair to say that project management skills are generally just as lacking in the private sector.  As a project management professional, I frequently encounter staff across both public and private sectors who have been entrusted with the management of important projects and programs, but have had little or no exposure to any formal project management training.  Outside of specialised agencies and firms it is not uncommon, but rather is typical, for projects both large and small to be operating with project plans and management systems that are at best rudimentary, and which are managed by people who have not had the benefit of any formal or otherwise effective training in project management.

This should not be surprising, as very few people are ever able to complete tertiary education with any training in project management.  Despite the fact that people studying all sorts of disciplines end up managing projects and programs, project management still tends to be confined to a few hours training in engineering and construction management courses, and perhaps a very small component of business and MBA degrees.  This is gradually changing.  In more recent times, the University of Western Australia has included project management units and software labs within its business and commerce undergraduate and MBA programs. Our firm has been contracted for the last five years to provide laboratory sessions for the UWA Business School in project planning using the well-known product Microsoft Project.

With resources becoming increasingly scarce, there has probably never been such pressure on government agencies to apply rigorous governance and compliance principles, run their projects and programs on time and within budget, as well as meeting stakeholder requirements and public expectations. There is no acceptable substitute for getting it right. Without systems and frameworks, and without trained staff and the right tools, the risk of poor project outcomes is too high.

About Us

Perfect Project Planning specialises in providing project planning services, both training and consultancy, to government, industry; and training and education institutions.

With decades of project management experience on top of having trained some of the top project teams in Perth (and Australia), Perfect Project Planning provides training and consulting services in all aspects of Project Management and Project Planning. Our training includes project scope definition, scheduling, resourcing, estimating, budgeting, tracking, reporting, analysis and optimisation.

Successful, effective Project Management starts with:

  • A thorough appreciation and a clear understanding of the fundamental concepts and principles of project management;
  • rigorous, disciplined application of reliable and effective methods, including the Critical Path Method; and
  • fluent, practical and productive use of the available software tools.

Perfect Project Planning specialises in scope, time and cost management using the Critical Path Method, Microsoft Project, and other forms of project planning software. Perfect Project Planning emphasises the most practical and productive application of established principles, reliable methods and powerful tools, for all kinds of projects and project environments.

Microsoft Project Training

Microsoft Project is an excellent and powerful project planning tool, and is commonly available within government agencies, However, it is rarely employed owing to staff not being trained in its use.

We recommend that any of your staff who might be expected to manage a project or program, either internal or external, be properly trained in project planning.  In this respect we are pleased to offer your Department  our two-day in-house introductory course Microsoft Project training program.  This course, which we have been providing to TAFE students, University undergraduates and post graduates, and in-house corporate engagements since 2005, covers the following:

  • Planning, tracking and analysis of all kinds of projects.
  • Application of the Critical Path Method and use of Microsoft Project to plan, track, manage and control projects within time and cost constraints to achieve specific, defined project objectives and targets.
  • Recognition and appreciation of the fundamental relationships between time, cost and scope in all projects.
  • Identification, organisation and management of project tasks and milestones within a work breakdown structure (WBS).
  • Organisation of the task sequence and the essential network of predecessor/successor task relationships
  • Identification of the critical path and critical tasks and use of this information productively for informed decision making
  • Use of consolidated project plans and resource pools to plan multiple inter-related and competing projects
  • Planning and management of pooled resources across a whole portfolio of projects in managing a divisional or corporate program.
  • Creation and definition of labour and material type resources, with costs, and assigning them to tasks.
  • Estimation of project costs, determination, projection and analysis of cash flow
  • Design of progress claim schedules
  • Creation and assignment of project, task and resource calendars
  • Definition of working days and working hours
  • Leveling of resources to resolve over-allocation and determination of resource requirements, and scheduling of tasks accordingly
  • Compare actual progress with the original project plan, measure progress and performance
  • Monitor and track progress, update and re-schedule tasks and resources
  • Account for and plan for changes in circumstances and project scope, variations, extensions of time
  • Produce a range of informative, timely reports; customise, present and communicate essential project information
  • Use a range of indicators, including earned value, to measure and control project performance

Completion of our two-day course will enable attendees to be effective users of Microsoft Project, and capable of producing detailed and useful project plans and project management reports.

We provide a range of ongoing support and follow-up courses to enable students to utilise the complete powers of this world leading project planning software.

Project Planning

Perfect Project Planning provides expert review and assessment of project plans whether prepared in house by the client agency or supplied by third parties, including contractors.

For more complex projects, Perfect Project Planning can provide comprehensive project planning and management services, including progress monitoring, reporting and performance tracking.

We also conduct management systems audits.

Our clients

Our many clients include:

  • Atlas Iron
  • AGC
  • Baker Hughes
  • Builton
  • Bregma
  • Electrix
  • Fleetwood
  • GFWA
  • Goldphyre Resources
  • MACS
  • Glenway Homes
  • Barclays Building Services
  • APA
  • Gransden Homes
  • Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority
  • Badge Constructions
  • IBMS
  • Palazzo Homes
  • Schlam Engineering
  • PTX Architects
  • Wauters Enterprises
  • Summit Homes
  • Hanseatic Marine
  • Dampier Bunbury Pipeline
  • Rio Tinto Iron Ore
  • CSA Global
  • Golder Associates
  • Alcoa Australia
  • WA Department of Finance (Building Management and Works)
  • WA Public Transport Authority of Western Australia

[1] Australian Public Service Commission February 2016 http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/learning-from-failure/enhancing-project-management#_edn158

[2] Royal Commission into the Housing Insulation Program http://www.homeinsulationroyalcommission.gov.au/Pages/default.html

Other references:

Key Competences of Public Sector Project Managers

The project management project–challenges in the public sector

Project Management – some reflections on the management of projects in the Australian Public Sector

Construction Programming For Public Sector Construction