PracticeConsultingCouncils need time to think

Councils need time to think

Concern about the number of successful public sector consulting projects has prompted the Cranfield School of Management to launch a think-tank dedicated to improving the hit rate.

The body, called Nexus, is backed by companies such as BT and Microsoft, as well as Cranfield public and private sector specialists, in a bid to challenge conventional thinking on how a project is judged a success.

The School believes that overspending on a project is not as important as failing to meet basic business objectives such as improvement in process on knowledge sharing.

According to Cranfield, a failed project is a ‘failed strategy’, which has a much larger cost to business than being late or over-budget.

‘Lack of attention to stakeholders and their expectations is the root cause of many project failures,’ according to Ashley Braganza, director of Nexus and senior lecturer at Cranfield. New ‘Nexus’ models and collaborative techniques are designed to remedy this.’

Stephen Harvey, group director, people and culture at Microsoft, said: ‘We want to find ways to help (customers) get more consistent results from their projects and we were impressed by the innovative ideas launched by Cranfield.’

Other participants in the scheme include the West Midlands Police and the Rural Payments Agency.

And more public sector project management guidance has been issued in a 164-page report from Hewson.

The report argues that the public sector has ‘no choice’ in terms of alternative suppliers for most council services and, because of this, the role of the senior executive group in local authorities is fundamentally different from that in most commercial firms.

‘This means that top-down, corporate-wide change initiatives – much loved by some consultancies – are of even less value in the local community than they are in the commercial sector,’ the report states.

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