This book, Procuring Successful Mega-Projects by Louise Hart is, to use a popular word these days, just fabulous. It is, as the title obviously shows, all about what we might call "Project Management Procurement". But procurement in the very different environment of extremely large projects that span decades, cost billions of dollars, is subject to high levels of political oversight. The average reader might reasonably conclude that: "My chances of ever managing such a large project, even assuming that I wanted to, is so slim that it really is not for me."
But don't be too hasty. The advice in the book is equally applicable to projects that are just large, and especially those that are for governments at any level and for large corporations. However, there is another good reason to read this book, or even just pick out chapters of particular interest. That's because it not only presents very sound advice backed by public examples, but is also laced with good old subtle British humor. We'll talk more on this later.
Indeed, the book is very thorough, with helpful tips, or very good advice, for each step of the way through the procurement process or life span. At over 270 packed pages and at least three such tips on each and every page, that's well over 800 items of useful advice over all. Who can quibble at that?
Why did Louise Hart write the book? As she says in her Preface:
"This book is for project directors, written by a former project director who now spends her time as a speaker and independent consultant on major projects and procurement."
"Mega-projects descending into chaos and litigation embarrass governments all over the world, as the public sector presides over fiascos that waste billions and destroy reputations. Inquiry after inquiry finds the damaging and costly failures of major government projects can be traced back to the contract establishment process."
As the author suggests:
"Procuring Successful Mega-Projects is essential reading, not just for the project director, but for everyone with a stake in the success of a mega-project: public sector executives; Ministers; private sector tenderers; infrastructure lenders; legal, financial and technical professional service providers; and procurement and project management professionals."
In short, it is for anyone who comes anywhere remotely near projects of the size that Louise Hart describes.
About the author
Louise Hart has been involved with mega-projects in Sydney and London for around 30 years. She has led major procurement for the public sector, including as Project Director for the establishment of the $3.6 billion public private partnership for the double deck Waratah passenger trains now serving Sydney's network.
Her past roles, which span the public and private sectors, include: solicitor in international law firms in Sydney and London; adviser to the Latvian Ministry of Economic Reform; Privatization Legal Adviser for the flotation of Railtrack, then owner of Britain's rail network; and transaction manager for two major restructurings of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project.
1. Hart, Louise, Procuring Successful Mega-Projects, Gower Publishing Limited, Surrey, UK, 2015, p ix
2. Ibid, back cover.