Headlines: October 21st, 2005

National Health Service Staff have been told to focus on delivering results and not excuses. Alan Patching, former project director for the Sydney Olympic Stadium, told senior NHS IT representatives that internal politics and a ‘silo mentality’ were to blame for organisations’ poor project delivery and the change of focus could reverse this trend.Mr. Patching, internationally recognised as a leading authority on project management, was speaking at ‘Project Success’, a seminar hosted by project portfolio management specialists Primavera. He emphasised the need for project managers to adopt a more collaborative approach, engaging with staff and customers but staying focused on the core aims of delivery – being on time, within budget and according to specification.

Also speaking at the event were Ray Moller, head of the Connecting for Health Programme office in the NHS, and David Oates, a vice president of Primavera, who led a roundtable session on the trials and tribulations of project handling in the health service. He warned that approaching e-government deadlines increased the importance of those responsible for handling projects not getting caught out by unexpected problems.

“Public confidence can only be restored if the NHS proves that it can deliver on its promises. Better project management won’t be the only deciding factor, but it represents a major step in the right direction,” Mr. Oates added.

Alan Patching stressed the importance of ensuring that senior managers had full visibility into projects, to eliminate surprises and he emphasised the need for NHS project managers to combine a people-focused approach with greater use of IT tools for accurate project forecasting, scheduling, and risk profiling and management.

Organisations like the NHS needed to get human capital involved in all projects to ensure success, he said. “When people see something that’s bigger than themselves, better results are guaranteed. You won’t get these results if cynicism persists on a daily basis, he said, adding that the organisations needed to train their staff, including leaders, to establish the right environment and give them the correct tools to do the job.