In response to the National Audit Office report on the Ministry of Defence's Ajax armoured vehicle programme, Andrew Baldwin, head of public affairs at Association for Project Management (APM), said:
In the current global environment, it is understandable that the UK's military capability will come under scrutiny. The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the Ajax programme highlights the difficulties that have affected the programme and the underlying causes. Significantly, the report refers to inadequate resources, including difficulties recruiting personnel with the required technical and project management skills, and a small programme management office (PMO) for a programme of such scale and complexity.
Project, programme and portfolio management has never been more important. It is vital for major programmes to have the right skills in place to support their proper inception, delivery and completion. Proper investment and prioritisation for project skillsets are essential to meet the demands of a changing and challenging world.
The report also highlights a lack of accountability and unclear responsibilities within the programme. Our research into the dynamic conditions for project success shows that successful project management requires strong leadership and a positive team ethos. These must be at the core of every project, programme and portfolio.
The NAO's report makes it clear that this programme has not been delivered to expected standards. However, it also presents a valuable opportunity to apply learnings in order to improve the way future programmes are managed. We are encouraged to hear the Ministry of Defence is starting to act upon the report's conclusions and we are confident lessons will be learned from these setbacks. As the chartered membership organisation for the project profession, we will do all we can to support this.
The rise of project-based work means more project professionals will be needed. However, the requirement to deliver new projects must be matched by capability to deliver them well and with the public good in mind. We urge the Government to prioritise investment in project skills so that desired outputs, outcomes and benefits can be delivered through planned change. APM continues to focus on delivering education, developing qualifications and providing the resources that enable project professionals to deliver in the face of change, or deliver change itself.