Essential Project Management Strategies for Australian Councils

Everybody loves getting their teeth into a good project, particularly when there is hope of transforming an area of the business. But what happens when it goes wrong?

In the dynamic world of project management, the journey from concept to completion is often filled with anticipation and the promise of transformation. Yet, the fallout can be significant when projects derail - running over time, exceeding budgets, stressing out teams, and falling short of expectations. This is a common predicament not only in the private sector but also in councils, public services, and non-profits across the board.


The critical role of effective project management

Poor project management is a widespread issue, revealing a critical gap across various organisations from private enterprises to councils and the public sector, and not-for-profits.

According to insights from our Council Leaders’ Effectiveness paper, the entire lifecycle of a project, from its inception to the review phase, is commonly mishandled, with  'Effective project management' often rated as one of the lowest strengths within organisations by employees and leaders alike.

The risk of poor project management goes beyond tarnishing an organisation's reputation due to delays or budget overruns; it directly influences team spirit and the overall culture within.



Early planning is the key to success

Early preparation, planning and research are not only key to a project's success but they're also vital for creating a culture that supports the project’s success.

This not only motivates the teams involved but also cultivates a supportive culture aimed at the project's triumph. Regrettably, many leaders stumble out of the gate due to inadequate project management techniques and insufficient research and planning.

For leaders, you must navigate past initial obstacles with finesse, ensuring a structured approach and a conducive environment for transformative change.


Champion agility

To thrive in the rapidly changing landscape of local government, you must champion agility and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

This requires a commitment to empowering your teams through enhanced skills in collaboration and project management. By reducing risks and proactively addressing challenges, you set the stage for a more resilient and dynamic organisation - ready to take on any challenge, any day.


Review, compare and learn

A concerning but common trend is the absence of a thorough post-project review process. These reviews are vital for understanding what worked, what didn't, and why.

These learnings should be shared widely within the team, fostering a culture of transparency and continuous improvement. The repetition of avoidable mistakes can lead to widespread frustration, undermining the potential for future success.


Building a culture of ownership and improvement

A lack of review processes and sharing of information also means that your team are missing an opportunity to reflect on the project, celebrate what went well and identify areas for improvement, that could highlight a need for upskilling and further professional development.

Acknowledging both the successes and the failures is essential in cultivating a positive organisational culture. This openness not only encourages a learning mindset but also strengthens team cohesion and commitment to the organisation's mission.


How can leaders improve?

TOP TIPS: Effective project management

  1. Post-project review
    Conduct thorough reviews, comparing the outcomes to the original objectives and highlighting areas for improvement.
  2. Cultivate transparency 
    Share outcomes with your team - the good, the bad and the ugly. Embracing both successes and failures to foster a positive culture.
  3. Skills development
    Invest in your people and provide development opportunities to learn effective collaboration and project management skills.


In a landscape where projects can easily veer off course, embracing robust project management practices is essential. By focusing on early planning, continuous review, and skills development, leaders can transform potential pitfalls into opportunities for growth and improvement. Let's commit to not just managing projects but leading them towards success.



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Date: 26th February 2024
Category: Business Processes
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