The APM Podcast
How to make better use of project data

How to make better use of project data

February 24, 2021

As with many new digital technologies, the terminology surrounding project data analytics can be confusing or off-putting to busy project professionals. However, as we discover in this episode, the potential of project data analytics is huge – and there are several ways you, as a project professional, can begin to harness the practical benefits today.

So what are some of these benefits? And how can you begin to develop better project data discipline within your organisation? To find out more about the opportunities and pitfalls, Project journal’s online editor Mike Hine spoke to a series of experts from across industry, academia and beyond:

  • Naomi Brookes, professor of complex programme management at WMG University of Warwick
  • Oliver Cowey, project controls manager, and Samir Patel, head of data, Office of the Chief Information Officer, at BAE Systems
  • John McGlynn, project delivery director for Atkins
  • Martin Paver, chief executive of Projecting Success

Further reading: apm.org.uk; projectdataanalytics.uk

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Project Innovators: Award-winning transformation with an honest culture

Project Innovators: Award-winning transformation with an honest culture

February 10, 2021

In this episode, host Emma De Vita meets Susan Ferry, a project manager for change at Allianz, who led what she calls a ‘big bang transformation’ project that revolutionised ways of working for the global insurance company, fostering innovation through a no-blame culture where trust and honesty were paramount.

We spoke to Susan at the start of February to find out more about the Motor Engineer Control System project that she led in 2019, and why it was an innovative transformation project that garnered praise from APM. The aim of the project was to streamline the motor engineering repair, inspection and salvage processes, which included delivering app-based mobile workflow management for engineers. The project was a first for Allianz, and resulted in a fully integrated process that enabled an immediate inspection booking at the point a claim is raised. The ability for engineers to manage their workflow digitally and therefore remotely is proving its worth during COVID-19 lockdowns. The project’s wider benefits have exceeded expectations, and the hybrid approach that was taken ensured the project was delivered on time, to budget and to standard. 

You can read an in-depth account of the workings of this award-winning project in the forthcoming spring issue of APM’s Project journal, out in March. 

Project Innovators: How to deliver under pressure (and win an award at the same time)

Project Innovators: How to deliver under pressure (and win an award at the same time)

January 25, 2021

From Deepwater to drones – in this episode Project editor Emma De Vita meets Benjamin Hooper, programme and project manager at Heathrow Airport, whose project won APM’s 2020 Overall Project of the Year. The project, to create a counter-unmanned aerial system (or anti-drone system) embraced innovative ways of thinking and managing for the project team, who were tasked with finding an immediate solution to the drone threat in the airport’s airspace. They only had days to fix the problem, so the pressure was immense and the usual project life cycle was jettisoned for more responsive, collaborative and agile processes.

Ben was able to draw on his experience of working as a subsea operations engineer in the Gulf of Mexico when the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill happened, when he suddenly became part of the crisis management team there. It’s not something he’d ever wish to happen again, he says, but being thrust into the emergency response team was a pivotal moment in his career.

Read Ben’s in-depth account of the workings of the anti-drone project in the forthcoming spring issue of APM’s Project journal, out in March.

Project Innovators: How to professionalise through collaboration

Project Innovators: How to professionalise through collaboration

January 8, 2021

In the Project Innovators season of podcasts, Project journal editor Emma De Vita is talking to project professionals who are leading projects in an innovative way at a time when many of us are hoping the world of work and projects can be reset for a post-COVID world.  

In this episode we meet Jo Stanford, head of corporate portfolio office at Health Education England, to discuss how she’s leading the collaborative development of the project profession in the NHS. It’s no mean feat. Not only is she trying to knit together a network of project managers across 40 NHS organisations, but she also needs to identify who is doing project work in the first place. It’s a tall mountain to climb, but the ultimate prize is not only to further professionalise project management in the NHS and have it better recognised, but also to create a collaborative network of support and best practice.

Jo is a true innovator and there are many lessons others can learn from her about how to raise the status of project management within organisations, formalising and professionalising it and creating a strong network of supportive peers. 

Project Innovators – Jenny McLaughlin, Heathrow

Project Innovators – Jenny McLaughlin, Heathrow

December 22, 2020

Resetting projects in a better way for a post-COVID world means capitalising on the best minds. Cognitive diversity, as explained by Matthew Syed in his book Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking, pays.  

In this episode, Project editor Emma De Vita discusses diversity and inclusion with Jenny McLaughlin, a project manager at Heathrow Airport, who is also its disability network lead. Jenny is innovative in the way she threads inclusivity through every part of the projects she manages. She says project managers are the best people to deliver change, and with true support from Heathrow’s executive team, she’s showing what diversity means for projects when you take it beyond a cursory tick-box exercise.

By asking difficult questions every step of the way, she and her team are creating a sense of belonging for everyone on a project. How is she doing it? And what lessons can she share with other project managers who are serious about making inclusion real? Listen to find out more.

 

Lessons from lockdown – the best of ‘Crisis Talks’

Lessons from lockdown – the best of ‘Crisis Talks’

December 4, 2020

In this episode, we look back on 2020 and reflect on some key project management lessons from a turbulent 9 months.

Soon after the first UK lockdown in March, we founded this podcast to share the stories of project professionals who were managing, adapting and pivoting their projects to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We dubbed series one ‘Crisis Talks’, and each episode was presented by Project journal editor Emma De Vita. Our hope was that we would end up with a valuable resource during a time of crisis for project professionals, who were doing their best to navigate a situation that almost none of us had imagined happening. What we ended up with was a chronicle of work and life through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic endures – but the advice given in the 'Crisis Talks' series will be relevant way past 2020. In this episode, we’ve picked out the best nuggets of wisdom from the first series of this podcast – with topics ranging from mental health to delivering to seemingly impossible targets.

How to be a great project leader

How to be a great project leader

November 6, 2020

In this episode, our topic is how to be a great project leader. We pin down exactly what it means to lead a project and how this role is evolving to reflect the changing nature of projects and obviously in 2020, the pressures of the Covid pandemic. In this podcast, host Emma De Vita, editor of Project journal, asks how a project leader needs to behave to be highly effective, and what mindset you need to thrive in this role.

 

APM’s 7th edition of its Body of Knowledge defines project leadership as: providing vision, direction, feedback and support so people can do their best work. And to do this in an environment of change and uncertainty. Project leadership is usually performed with limits on a project leader’s power requiring them to adopt a style that builds team and wider stakeholder commitment.

 

Our panel discusses in-depth what this definition means in practice, giving lots of advice on how you can become a better project leader, particularly during these challenging times.

 

On the panel are:

  • Gordon MacKay, project management capability lead at Sellafield and author of a forthcoming book on project leadership for APM.
  • Mike Bourne, professor of business performance, action, execution and implementation at Cranfield School of Management.
  • Claire Fryer, director of behavioural management and executive coach at Costain.
Project Innovators – Matthew Moran, The Open University

Project Innovators – Matthew Moran, The Open University

October 16, 2020

In the ‘Project Innovators’ season of podcasts, Project journal editor Emma De Vita is speaking to project professionals who are leading projects in an innovative way at a time when many of us are hoping the world of work and projects can be reset for a post-COVID-19 world.

In this episode she speaks to Matthew Moran, Head of Transformation at The Open University, and occasional lecturer in the OU Business School. Matthew is one of the educators on the ‘Project Management: Beyond the Basics’ course on FutureLearn, a collaboration between the OU and APM. He is also an advisor and consultant to a number of education institutions and edtech startups and companies. 

Matthew is writing a book on hybrid project management for APM, aiming to help project managers to do hybrid better. Instead of being irreconcilable opposites, he argues that project managers need both linear and agile for projects of any degree of complexity – and that the best results are achieved when we acknowledge the need for both, and when we aim to get the best of both (by understanding and making trade-offs between the upsides and downsides of each).

Project Innovators – Caroline Raynor, Costain

Project Innovators – Caroline Raynor, Costain

October 2, 2020

In the ‘Project Innovators season of podcasts, Project journal editor Emma De Vita will be speaking to project professionals who are leading projects in an innovative way at a time when many of us are hoping the world of work and projects can be reset in a better way for a post-COVID-19 world. 

In episode one, we meet Caroline Raynor, project manager and principal archaeologist for the Costain Skanska JV, who designed and led the Saint James’s Gardens excavation in London's Euston as part of work for HS2s London terminus. It is the largest archaeological excavation of a burial ground in Europe, and HS2 as a whole is probably the largest programme of archaeological works driven by a single project in recent times. 

Caroline has pulled off an amazing feat in that she not only borrowed lean principles from the world of manufacturing, but also actively encouraged a far more gender-balanced project than the norm, with a 43 per cent female demographic on-site. Emma spoke to Caroline at the end of September just as the BBC's Britain’s Biggest Dig series began airing – the first episode of which was all about the Saint Jamess dig. Catch it on iPlayer. 

VUCA, hybrid and adaptability: reflections on BoK7

VUCA, hybrid and adaptability: reflections on BoK7

September 8, 2020

In this episode, our topic is the APM Body of Knowledge. The seventh edition of this core text for the profession was published in 2019. One year on, the book’s co-editors – Dr Ruth Murray-Webster and Professor Darren Dalcher – co-host an episode that reflects on the changes and updates made to the seventh edition.

They discuss the considerable challenges and responsibilities of updating what they describe as a “foundational knowledge document” for the profession. They consider the background and context to BoK7, the significant changes it introduced and the future of project-based management in an uncertain world.

Ruth and Darren have written about their belief that a chartered profession does not require black and white ‘rules’. Instead it needs reflective professionals who can think about and devise ways to navigate a messy context in a nuanced way.

Listen now to take a deep dive into the fundamentals of the project profession in 2020 and beyond.

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