One version of the truth: a joined-up approach to programme management

Successfully delivering major infrastructure programmes isn’t easy. Infrastructure is, by its nature, complex, and once you start to consider multiple structures, contractors and stakeholders across multiple sites, things can become even more challenging. But that’s not a reason to shy away, explains Oliver Conde, Regional Director for Latin America. 


At Mace, we look at complex programmes as opportunities. They provide us with a chance to put our expertise to the test and prove why we are the industry leader in helping to shape cities and build sustainable communities. 

A commitment to this attitude has seen us deliver some of the world’s most complex programmes. In Peru, for example, our approach to the Lima 2019 Games’ venues laid the foundations for our work on the country’s multi-sector reconstruction programme and its Bicentennial Schools programme. All three of these transformational programmes involve multiple projects across a wide geographical area and, therefore, require management tools and techniques that enable transparency, consistency and robust implementation of project controls.

One of our most effective management tools, and something we have been honing in Peru since 2017, is our Programme Management Office, or PMO. Mace’s PMO has been a key factor in the successful delivery of a host of infrastructure projects and programmes around the world, from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, to Dubai Expo 2020, Keflavik Airport in Iceland, and the GO Expansion rail programme in Toronto. Crucially, it’s adaptable, scalable and transferable, meaning that each time we learn a lesson, we can pass on the knowledge to our colleagues around the globe.

A good PMO is an enabler for integration. It facilitates data gathering, management and analytical processes used to predict, understand and constructively influence the time and cost outcomes of a project or programme. It does this through the communication of information in formats that assist effective governance, management and decision making. Combined, all the factors help to manage and mitigate cost and schedule issues, as well as any other risks that may impact delivery. 

In using a PMO, the project team, supply chain and client can ensure that they maintain ‘a single source of truth’ throughout the programme. This was and continues to be crucial on the programmes mentioned previously and, as an overarching concept, has the potential to continue adding a huge amount of value to future infrastructure schemes across Latin America. 

By using a single platform that coordinates and clearly reports every aspect of the programme, we give our clients access to all the information needed to become more dynamic in their decision making. In the case of Lima 2019 – the only one of the three programmes that has concluded – this helped the team to build the Games venues within challenging and firmly fixed deadlines. It has also allowed transparency of progress and outcomes with the Contraloría, Peru’s national audit entity and a key stakeholder.

The value of a good PMO extends beyond using robust and verified information to facilitate good decision making. Using a detailed planning schedule, our PMO in Peru enables us to understand and align requirements across the entire programme, right through to operational needs, whether that’s a functioning school or the athlete and visitor experience at the 2019 Games. From a delivery perspective, it allows us to coordinate activity across independent and distinct project sites, simplifying the management of everything from complex commercial arrangements to overlay requirements and health and safety reporting. 

The success we’ve had with the PMO framework in Peru has gained attention, becoming a hot topic within both the Peruvian construction sector and the Peruvian Government, as well as neighbouring countries. We’ve been sharing our experience, knowledge and lessons learned across government departments who want to understand how the approach we’ve taken can be improved and translated onto future programmes and projects. 

We’ve been able to build this legacy because of the model’s flexibility. It’s entirely transferable and can scale to any programme, project or portfolio. Irrespective of the sector, location, or funding mechanism, it can be tailored to suit any client requirements and objectives, ensuring transparent management regardless of the contracting mechanism, be it a public private partnership (PPP), a fixed price engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, publicly funded projects, and anything in between. That means that the model has significant potential in Peru and South America – where there is a growing pipeline of major infrastructure projects, a need for robust oversight of public expenditure, and an industry appetite to embrace new ways of working. 

Successful implementation of a PMO can create a powerful framework for improved infrastructure delivery by changing the way that programme and project management is viewed. That’s why a hallmark of our approach is to ensure a legacy of learning and knowledge transfer. Through the Lima 2019 Games, Reconstruction initiative and Bicentennial Schools Programme, we’ve been able to collaborate with our partners, clients and the supply chain to grow awareness and usage of the PMO. We have shown through successful delivery of complex programmes that the PMO enables dynamic decision making through better provision and sharing of information and data.

With every programme we deliver, we use the lessons learned to improve our PMO offering. Our work in Peru is no different, helping us understand more about implementing a PMO in a country where it is a relatively new concept in the public sector. It has undoubtedly provided us with a basis on which to build our international PMO offering, and especially in South America as we continue to build collaborative and progressive relationships on new programmes across the continent.