June 20, 2023
4 min read
Adaptive Resilience and the Proactive Management of Risk
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Certified Project Master (CPM)
The City of Sydney is the council responsible for the Sydney metropolitan area of NSW. Their role encompasses development, local services and facilities, health and welfare, community wellbeing (and much more) in community service.
Their project management office undertakes many large-scale and challenging infrastructure projects every year (an estimated portfolio of around $390 million in capital projects) as well as social and environmental goals.
The Center for Project Innovation won a tender to help the City of Sydney upskill and train its people in its new project management methodology for large-scale infrastructure projects.
One of the City’s challenges was engaging with consultants to deliver projects and subsequently having their acquired project knowledge leave with them. In implementing the new methodology, they sought a more sustainable and integrated solution.
It was clear that the City of Sydney were looking for more than an off-the-shelf solution.
They had recently introduced a new project methodology and were looking for someone who could train experienced people in a new method to help them manage their challenging and ever-changing portfolio of project work more efficiently.
We took resources, process maps and templates from the Center’s program and blended them with the City of Sydney’s project lifecycle and approach.
We developed a two-day program that delivered contextualised training that matched their methods and invited experts from across the organisation to share their expertise and contextualise learning.
Interdepartmental workshops became an opportunity to break down silos, troubleshoot live projects and get everyone on the same page about how projects were delivered.
Initially, training was intended for the project management office but was soon extended to include marketing and communications, accounting and finance, procurement, compliance and more.
Our mission was not only to get teams working together more effectively but to foster a culture of continuous improvement, get teams thinking creatively and critically about how they deliver projects and engage them on project management best practices.
Over time, we were also able to capture knowledge from participants’ project experiences and learning to feed back into the program and tailor and improve the City of Sydney project framework.
To date, we’ve delivered customised project management learning to more than two hundred staff at the City of Sydney – from cadets to senior leadership.
The initial contract we won was extended to include not only the project office but several parts of the organization, including procurement, sales, marketing and sustainability.
From our perspective, success can be measured in a higher success rate of projects across the board, lower staff turnover as well as intangibles like improved cross-departmental understanding and communication.
One of the most important outcomes for our clients, of course, is the fact they don’t need us anymore. Or won’t for a while, at least. The real goal is always capacity building.
Feedback from the City of Sydney
Vikki Rowe is an expert in business management systems, quality, and environmental safety; she’s also passionate about sustainability (in every sense of the word).
Vikki joined the Project Management Office (PMO) at the City of Sydney to help restructure their project management framework. Here’s what she had to say about working with the Center for Project Innovation:
“The PMO at the City of Sydney oversees capital works, and it’s the kind of workplace where there are loads of project management professionals managing big infrastructure projects.
There’s a lot involved in meeting the needs of a growing city, whether that means maintaining existing assets and infrastructure or building it anew. Making decisions to add more services like childcare, roads, parks, and green spaces and applying sustainability goals and best practices to all that we do.
We were looking for a uniform framework that could be drawn on for any purpose from a public exhibition or event to roads and infrastructure.
Implementing a new project framework meant creating a common awareness and capability of project management. Not just project management however individual project managers wanted to do it, but best practice.
This training was an exercise in change management for a government organisation that had been doing things a certain way for a long time. We needed to address awareness and capability and, as local government, are also highly accountable for how public money is spent.
We knew we were experts in the city’s procedures but weren’t experts in project management best practice, so we went out to the marketplace with our goals in mind. The Center for Project Innovation’s was by far and away the best response.
They aligned themselves with our goals and found ways to make it even better. The courses were highly contextualised to our needs and really resonated with local government in a way that no off-the-shelf course could have.
It really was a true partnership, and their collaborative nature is very distinct from other project management providers we received pitches from. Their teaching supported all the various approaches to project management; it’s not just PRINCE2 or PMBOK, where there’s a single way of doing things.
Without a doubt, it was the most popular training that had ever happened at the City of Sydney. We had really great feedback from managers – there was a real buzz about the program: they found it useful, and we purposefully made sure we had people from different parts of the organisation split up into groups of twenty so people could network and cross-pollinate.
My advice to anyone thinking about working with the Center is – don’t even bother with anyone else. The Center will help you achieve what you want to achieve in a way that no off-the-shelf training can.”