Making a multi-million-dollar, multi-owner project work with PRINCE2
October 3, 2022 |
8 min read
Kursten Faller is principal at Midgard Consulting, which provides engineering, project management and organisational improvement services to the private and public sector in Canada. Here he explains the approach – underpinned by PRINCE2 – to making an ambitious joint-use facility for the City of Weyburn a reality.
There are some projects in life that are a privilege to be involved in. This was true for the very ambitious $50m plan to create a joint use facility for the City of Weyburn and South-East Cornerstone School Division.
The vision was to create a community centre with a half-sized soccer pitch, 200m running track, art gallery, pottery, indoor playground, multi-purpose gym and simulation rooms. The main beneficiary would be the Weyburn Comprehensive School, an elementary school with 650 students on roll.
As a project it was high risk. There was a lot of public money at stake, not to mention public scrutiny. Our overwhelming priority was to ensure we delivered within budget for the Ministry of Education, the project funders with high expectations in terms of project management and delivering a return on investment for citizens.
We therefore wanted to prove you can deliver a transformational programme through having a clear scope, transparent decision making and apply project methodologies with rigour.
Collaboration underpinned by PRINCE2
PRINCE2 was our preferred project management method because our team is well trained and experienced in it and it provides the strong framework that construction projects of such magnitude need. There’s also a cultural fit; the local marketplace is well versed on its benefits, making supplier relationships easier to manage.
Though the Ministry of Education, the City of Weyburn and the in-house project management team were not PRINCE2 practitioners and, in some cases, had little project management experience we combined our expertise in project management and PRINCE2 with their skills and knowledge of the education system and the city demographics. This produced a working plan that fulfilled everyone’s objectives.
We established a suitable governance structure so the principal stakeholders across the organizations were consulted and included in critical decision making. We also included a comprehensive project initiation plan to ensure everyone understood the milestones, expectations and demands the project would place on everyone.
By applying PRINCE2 we could also instil a sense of confidence. There was plenty of foresight into the schedule and the budget. This helped ensure decisions were made iteratively and all the actions we took were aligned to the timetable for delivery, the scope and budget constraints.
Multi-owner projects need PRINCE2
Collaboration is crucial when running a project with more than one ‘owner’ – in this case the Southeast School Division and the City of Weyburn, as well as the Ministry of Education as the funder. Without a framework it’s impossible to establish relationships and get everyone working together efficiently. Plus, having a framework means everyone knows exactly what is happening when, their role in the decision-making process, what needs to be delegated, how much the phases of delivery will cost and the overall impact of a delay on delivery.
In effect, you make better decisions and can improve project performance as you progress rather than wait for a ‘lessons learnt’ wash-up at the end. Using PRINCE2 to manage a project in stages helps deliver this iterative approach because there is continuous alignment to the overall goals and a business case. Information is constantly updated and helps to adapt the forthcoming stages as necessary.
PRINCE2 builds in resilience
Not all projects will go to plan, no matter how hard you try. It’s the nature of construction. Occasionally things did go off track with this scheme; they were simply out of our hands. However, using PRINCE2 provided resilience in terms of how people responded when there were unexpected challenge and helped minimise bureaucracy.
PRINCE2 allowed us to set very clear expectations at every point in the project, so everyone was well informed and could make better quality decisions about contingency plans in a timely way. And it provided a means to build-in tolerance to a construction project of this scale.
Taking such a tailored approach to the project and ensuring all stakeholders were briefed and committed helped us achieve our goal; the school was opened on time, to budget and to a very high standard of finish.
There’s no doubt the public got a genuine return on investment. It’s a thriving place to study and play and a hub of the community – all thanks to hard work, passion and structured project management.