Lessons From The OGC

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is an independent office of HM Treasury, established to help Government deliver best value from its spending.  The OGC works with central Government departments and other public sector organisations to ensure the achievement of six key goals:

  • Delivery of value for money from third party spend
  • Delivery of projects to time, quality and cost, realising benefits
  • Getting the best from the Government’s £30bn estate
  • Improving the sustainability of the Government estate and operations, including reducing carbon emissions by 12.5% by 2010-11, through stronger performance management and guidance
  • Helping achieve delivery of further Government policy goals, including innovation, equality, and support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
  • Driving forward the improvement of central Government capability in procurement, project and programme management, and estates management through the development of people skills, processes and tools.

Recently they’ve published the ‘lessons learnt’ from the (so-called) Senior Responsible Owner role. The SRO is ‘the individual responsible for ensuring that a project or programme of change meets its objectives and delivers the projected benefits’.

Lessons Learned – The SRO Role in Major Government Projects provides a number of recommendations on how the effectiveness of SROs can be improved and builds on existing OGC guidance for SROs. In summary, the SRO role can be made to work more effectively by addressing a number of factors including:

  • Better understanding of the role;
  • Selection of the right people to act as SROs;
  • Giving SROs real accountability and business authority to resolve issues;
  • Ensuring SROs have relevant delivery skills and experience, including commercial awareness;
  • SROs dedicating sufficient time to the role;
  • Improved continuity of the role through the project life-cycle;
  • Improved tools, guidance and development opportunities for SROs;
  • Provision of adequate supporting resources.

This is an illuminating example as the OGC themselves provide guidance on good project management practice, including capturing and disseminating lessons learnt.

It’s good that the observations are candid but at the same time it always amazes me how key problems can often be highly predictable. It often amounts to putting an inappropriate person in the job in the first place or else not giving them enough support or resources. I’ve seen this happen over and over again.

What will be interesting is to see how they plan to actually make these changes stick in a recession when support and resources will be even more stretched (although at the same time there are likely to be less projects). There never was a time when excellent project management including learning quickly from mistakes was more important!

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