Friday, July 23, 2004

The purpose of (project) management

When a project is very much in the public spotlight, the question about the purpose of management actions taken on a projects becomes problematical. For instance the huge (£6bn) NHS IT project currently underway is under scrutiny in parliament and by many formal and informal bodies. When a stage or gate review is held to assess the current status we might assume that the purpose is to find out if things are as they are supposed to be. But of course the poliitcal implications of a less than clean card are such that information about problems will not become public. In this situation the process often splits into a public and a private part. The situation then rapdily becomes more complicated because the bodies such as parliamentary committees with statutory duties to oversee what is going on cannot necessarily unpick what information is for whose consumption.

The question of how to get necessary information to flow to the people who need to use it does not have ready answers and you can be fairly sure that where people talk about openness, transparency and accountability these things will be missing when it counts: discussion gets displaced from doing the work to trying to provide the conditions in which work can be done.

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