We know that Local Authorities play a pivotal role in community development and are responsible for implementing a wide breadth of projects that meet the needs of their communities, represent local interests, drive development and promote health and well-being. These projects have a real impact and deliver improvements for real people – we know what a difference they can make, we see it daily! But that isn’t to say there aren’t challenges to successful delivery. From funding constraints to resource management, this blog post explores three of the most common project delivery challenges faced by local authorities and strategies to overcome them.
Effective Project Management Resource
Resourcing is a much wider challenge than just the project manager (PM) post – but to contain this particular can of worms (or try to!), let’s discuss the PM role. It’s no secret that the PM role is a demanding one and having someone with the right skillset in post can have a big impact of the quality of your delivery…. and the likelihood of it being delivered to time and budget! It’s a common challenge faced by Local Authorities in project planning, resource allocation and coordination, with difficulties arising from managing project timelines, stakeholders, budgets, suppliers and risks and issues. Developing project management skills within the LA’s staff, implementing PM based technology and establishing effective PM frameworks is key to overcoming this challenge. At Trueman Change we recognise this, which is why we don’t gatekeep our skills! We understand the importance of providing our experience and assurance that your project is in hand, and work closely with local authorities to get it done! [CB1]
Community Engagement and Managing Expectations
Projects delivered by the council are often designed to address specific community needs and aspirations. The role of the community in this can often be overlooked – at significant cost! Engaging the community and managing their expectations throughout the initiation and delivery phase can have a direct impact on the project’s success. This can be easier said than done. Project Managers will be required to navigate diverse opinions, manage conflict, manage expectations and encourage meaningful participation. But transparent communication and consistent updates (which should be set out in a comprehensive comms plan), established feedback mechanisms and well designed public consultations can all help Local Authorities to navigate this challenge and build community support for their projects.
Project sustainability and legacy
With project delivery (notably grant delivery) being as demanding and multifaceted as it is, it is unfortunately all too common to see aspects of delivery neglected. One of those common areas is what comes after delivery and realising those longer-term benefits. Whilst grants can be great catalysts of positive change, grant funded projects do hold the risk of being no longer financially viable once the grant period ends – and what happens then? This is something I urge Local Authorities to consider during the design phase of the project in order to explore and develop strategies that support ongoing operations, maintenance and further development. This will support the development of plans to maximise project sustainability, benefits realisation and establish a lasting legacy!
Delivering projects for Local Authorities is a multifaceted endeavour that uncovers a multitude of challenges. This blog touches on three of those challenges, but that isn’t to say there aren’t many others! But, there is always a solution and by implementing robust project management practices, fostering stakeholder engagement and collaboration and adopting effective strategies Local Authorities can (and do!) overcome these challenges and deliver impactful projects that improve the lives of local communities!