Project Management Expertise
Public-Private Partnerships: Project Management Expertise
By Valerie Martinelli, MPA
It is important for professionals to have an understanding of the skills necessary within 3Ps as they are increasingly employed. Project management is an important component within public-private partnerships. A project can be defined as a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal and not a routine operation. A project team typically includes individuals whom do not normally work together. Projects, including 3Ps, must be proficiently managed in order to provide timely, cost-effective results, knowledge, and integration that is required.
What is Project Management?
Project management can be defined as the administration of expertise, proficiencies, and practices to execute projects successfully and professionally. It is a strategic ability that facilitates agencies to tie project results to business goals, which permits enhanced outcomes. Project management processes are composed of five groups, which are initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and lastly, closing. In addition, project management knowledge is inclusive of ten topics: risk management, time, procurement, communications, scope, quality, cost, integration, human resources, and stakeholder management.
Project Management Skills within a 3P
Administration of these skills is required in order for a 3P to be established successfully. A significant amount of resources is committed to project success from both the public sector and private sector partners. These resources are inclusive of many facets of project management, such as human resources, risk management, project costs, stakeholder management, and implementation. It is vital that professionals are trained and skilled within project management as well as 3Ps in order to implement the provision of services effectively.
Role of Risk Assessments
Project management skills are value agents that can assist an agency or organization to acquire the maximum out of its implementation. However, major government projects, including 3Ps, must survive constant public scrutiny; failure is perceived as a major embarrassment and a waste of public time and resources. Consideration also must be given to investors, private sector partners, and applicable resources. For these reasons, risk management may be the most critical skill in project management and implementing 3Ps. Risks affect the provision of services and viability of a project if they are not mitigated properly. Relevant risks must be identified for management. If a list is too comprehensive it may scare investors away from a 3P and affect the project’s viability.
However, it is equally important to be cautious about managing risks as well. For example, risks should not automatically be transferred to one partner who must bear the burden financially and professionally of mitigating them and ensuring that the project will not be negatively affected. In addition, it is also imperative that due diligence is done by creating tools such as a risk matrix that can be utilized throughout the duration of the project to identify, monitor, and mitigate risks. A risk matrix typically describes the nature of the risk, its severity, potential effects, allocation, mitigation, insurance coverage, financial, and completion timeline. Risk must be shared between the public and private sector partners in order for trust and transparency to be maintained. It is also critical that responsibilities are detailed in the contract in order to avoid legal disputes, disruption to the completion of the project, and further financial issues.
The inability to identify, monitor, and mitigate risks will affect the feasibility of a project and its outcome. Government agencies do not go out of business if a project fails; however, public perception and scrutiny are always fundamental. This is especially true due to the constant increasing pressure to cut waste and deliver more with less. 3Ps offer the ability to do so by enabling the additional private sector funding. Gaining public trust is critical even within a 3P because some feel that they lack transparency.
The Bottom Line
3Ps are complex partnerships that when implemented efficiently, can deliver meaningful services with less waste at a greater value. However, the proper skills set, including project and risk management proficiencies, are vital to project success. Transparency and trust are also dependent on professional expertise. Skilled professionals will be equipped to handle the complexity of a 3P successfully, which will benefit the public receiving its services.