The session concentrated on the importance of Best Practices in Programme Management, and their impact on cost, safety, and the successful completion of the project. It was emphasized that the principles and methods of Programme Management could (and should) be applied to projects at all scales, from a PhD with one student and one supervisor, up to a complex international collaboration containing thousands.
The workshop started with the foundational topic of Requirements Management. In addition to showing the range of places and people that requirements can come from, and the technical complexity of balancing the range of requirements, particularly against cost. A particular emphasis was on the use of metrics to measure how well requirements are satisfied, and on the importance of choosing and tracking key metrics and understanding the root causes behind them.
On the topic of Programme Planning, the importance of structure and order was highlighted. At an organizational level it's necessary for the structure to be clear to everyone involved in the project, that responsibilities are defined so that things get done, and so that the required support is in place. In addition to the terminology used by, and the role of, industrial Programme Managers, it was emphasized that change is a part of the process, and that a key part of effectively managing a Programme is to stay on top of changes, to incorporate them into the plan, and to communicate them effectively.
Finally, Risk, Issue and Opportunity Management were discussed. Emphasis on the need to involve all partners in identifying and agreeing risks and opportunities was clear, and a transparent process for mitigating risks was laid out. The role of the Programme Manager in setting a good example, both in identifying potential issues, and in addressing and communicating them, was highlighted.
Throughout the workshop a number of examples and scenarios were discussed, both from real experience across a number of industries, or from artificial examples such as autonomous vehicles or the delivery of a fleet of pink helicopters to the Welsh Air Force. The emphasis on planning, continually updating for changes, and open communication between all involved, will be very useful for the participants as they continue with their PhDs.