Brexit – Good News for the Project Management Community?

Brexit – Good News for the Project Management Community?

It is quite clear that UK faces a period of major change and the outcomes are very difficult to predict. Many current projects will be affected, some planned projects face an uncertain time and there will be many new projects.

The impact of the leave vote will mean a lot more projects as businesses disentangle themselves from European legislation ranging from HR to Manufacturing and Accounting to Supply Chain and the skills of Project Managers and Business Analysts will be in great demand.

Some of the original EU members are pressing for an early declaration under Clause 50 but this is entirely under UK control. This allows some space for reorganization, restructuring and objective setting. However, this does not appear to be progressing very well.

Whitehall is in chaos as two of the Brexiteer cheerleaders, David Davis and Liam Fox, struggle to set up new departments responsible for Brexit. With no agreed time-table for the negotiations, let alone a plan B if they go badly, the future suddenly seems even more uncertain. Contingency planning certainly was not a strength of the former Prime Minister David Cameron - where was Plan B if the Leave vote won?.

Apparently their new Whitehall departments are being set up from scratch and the situation is “chaotic”. They don’t have the infrastructure for the people they need to hire. They say they don’t even know the right questions to ask when they finally begin bargaining with Europe. It appears that late 2019 is now the forecast exit date.

Project management has often been defined as the “Management of Change”. It is the preeminent method for implementing change in the world and project, programme and portfolio managers are leading the way.  

Implementing change in a democracy on a national or international scale is orders of magnitude more complex than implementing change within an organization, or even across a company. The numbers of stakeholders are on a different plane entirely – millions versus thousands. In addition, the authority of the change sponsors is vastly different – from elected officials counting on engaged citizens on the one hand to senior executives in usually authoritarian, hierarchical structures on the other.

Yet, proven project, programme and portfolio skills are critical so that order, structure and visibility can be brought to this challenging initiative.  

What is clear is that those who will thrive over the next few years are not only those who can demonstrate a solid performance but also, crucially, those who have the right qualifications in place.

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