If we had been honest we would never have received project approval!

This was a statement made by a speaker at an event I attended in London some 10 years ago. I cannot remember what he spoke about. I can however remember the issue he was referring to. It was the estimate of time and cost given to the relevant Government Minister over a significant project. 

What he admitted was that if they had given the true costs then the project would never have been agreed at the political level. There was as you can imagine uproar at the meeting and many people were appalled. The response was simple expediency; the government wanted the project but did not realise the real costs or time involved in the project.

That was ten years ago but it stuck with me.

Switch to modern day and the leader comment in the latest Computer Weekly  They start the column with cynicism around tips for project managers and top of the list is; projects with realistic budgets and timetables don’t get approved….. 

They go onto suggest that “..reality trumps satire: big project continue receive approval on the basis of unrealistic estimates of their cost and time to completion” They suggest that one government project executive told them that budgeting in government is a game: “if the Treasury and the department want the scheme approved, they turn a blind eye to irrationally low initial estimates of the cost and the timescale.” 

The leader article goes on to identify a number of projects which began with cost estimates at a fraction of their prices today. 

Nothing seems to have changed from the meeting I attended some ten years ago.

It seems to me that politics is the real issue here. Note the words: if the Treasury and the department want the scheme approved, they turn a blind eye to irrationally low initial estimates of the cost and the timescale.

Rationality loses over impartiality!!  

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