Challenges in Managing Major Projects

Delivering major transport projects is very challenging – with long planning horizons, complex interfaces, multiple stakeholders and the potential for major scope changes.

Poor project management results in overruns and delays, poor quality outputs, and higher costs.

There is increasing pressure for well-planned and delivered transport projects that meet agreed time, cost and quality requirements.

The Future of Project Management: Global Outlook 2019 presented some concerning key findings of the organisations surveyed, including:

  • 19% deliver successful projects, at least most of the time
  • 30% are likely to deliver projects that are on time
  • 36% are likely to deliver projects that are on budget
  • 44% are likely to deliver projects that meet original goal and business intent 
  • 46% of projects are delivered with stakeholder satisfaction

Clearly, organisations globally continue to find it difficult to deliver projects that meet all objectives around the iron triangle of time, cost and scope, along with achieving stakeholder satisfaction. KPMG, AIPM and IPMA, 2019

A survey by Caravel (2013) found that on average 48% of projects filed to meet the baseline time, cost and quality objectives. A major reason why projects failed to meet their time, cost and quality requirements is poor project management.

Evans and Peck (2012) provided advice to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Effective Decision Making for the Successful Delivery of Significant Infrastructure Projects and made the following observations:

1. Conceptualise: establish clear need, define likely benefits, explore strategic interventions. Typical challenges: failure to involve stakeholders and users in defining scope; insufficient options considered; and lack of appreciation of complexity and ability to deliver project.

2. Prove: explore project options, estimate costs, validate value for money and viability. Typical challenges: insufficient time and effort spent on options and business case; design process overcomplicated and costly; and optimistic delivery timeframes.

3. Procure: specify requirements, engage market, award contract. Typical challenges: proceeding to market before business case completed; lack of innovation to identify best contracting method; and probity issues in planning and procurement process.

4. Implement: deliver solution. Typical challenges: lack of transparency on costs; requirements task-driven rather than outcome-driven; and lack of change management and benefits realisation planning.

5. Realise: measure success of investment. Typical challenges: difficult to use, dysfunctional and overly complex outcomes, not operating as intended; and value for money not demonstrated.

There is a shortage of adequate project management skills and competencies to ensure best practices in project delivery.

Caravel, 2013. A review of project governance effectiveness in Australia, a report to Infrastructure Australia.

Evans and Peck, 2012. Advice to Inquiry into Effective Decision-Making for the Successful Delivery of Significant Infrastructure Projects

KPMG, AIPM and IPMA, 2019. The Future of Project Management: Global Outlook 2019Project Management Survey 2019 

Image: Toowoomba Second Range Crossing. source: