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Eliminating Modern Slavery from Projects

This investigation is funded by the Association of Project Management and has been carried out in conjunction with UCL and the University of Leeds. Modern Slavery involves the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of people through any means for the purpose of exploitation. It is an extensive problem and one that causes immense human suffering. International Labour Office figures suggest that there are 24 million victims of Modern Slavery or forced labour at any time around the world with a substantial proportion of these people working on project related activities.

This investigation has used a Delphi approach to seek views from key practitioners on how to eradicate modern slavery from projects. The practitioners consulted include project organisations (such as HS2, Jacob, MACE and Sir Robert MacAlpine), professional organisations (such as ICE, RIBA and the APM), NGOs (such as the Institute for Human Rights in Business and the Centre for Business and Human Rights) and Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

It has used a Delphi approach to identify multi-level challenges associated with eliminating modern slavery from projects.

The findings of the investigation have now been published by the APM and can be downloaded here:

APM Eliminating Modern Slavery from Projects Report

Overcoming the Delivery Complexity of Energy Decommissioning Projects

This investigation is being funded by Sellafield Ltd. It will explore the explicit and implicit links between project complexity and delivery performance through focussing on a number of large decommissioning storage facilities at Sellafield. It will investigate the utility of a system’s thinking perspective in mapping the impact of complexity on the actuality of the project experiences at Sellafield and help to quantify how complexity build in cost to projects and programmes.

The investigation is being carried out by Elaine Falconer

Project Data Analytics: The State of the Art and Science

This work embraces a programme of related activities:

Project Data Analytics - The State of the Art: This work is being carried out with the Project Data Analytics Research Network, a network of researchers interested in project data analytics from the universities of Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, Cambridge and Warwick. We have undertaken a review of practice with organisations such as Sellafield, Rolls-Royce, Logikal, Turner & Townsend, and a number of data analytics and project control SME consultancies and we are embedding the findings from this in a pathfinder report sponsored by the Association of Project Management. In this report we will also be creating a glossary of terms as a common vocabulary in this area is stymying uptake of ata analytics.

Project ‘X’ Data Theme lead: Professor Brookes is the co-lead for the Data Theme of Project X. Project X was conceived within the Portfolio Insight Team at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, the United Kingdom Government's centre of expertise for infrastructure and major projects. Project X acts as a vehicle to engage the research community in project and programme management with the ‘real-world’ issues that face the Government’s Major Project Portfolio (GMPP). In this role she is investigating the maturity of project data analytics in GMPP, and developing a research agenda to progress this capability further.

Industrial research – The Project Praxis group is working with a variety of industrial clients throughout directly funded projects to create project data analytic capabilities in their own organisations and with client partners.

Robotics Projects on Nuclear Sites: Overcoming the Valley of Death

This investigation is funded by the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics and is being carried out in conjunction with the University of Leeds. The investigation is using a semi-structured interview approach to elicit the views of stakeholders involved in innovation projects in the nuclear sector in the UK to establish why innovation projects involving robotics are so prone to failure. Key lessons are being drawn on the need to coordinate across organisational boundaries in complex innovation project systems such as those encountered in the nuclear sector.

Urgent Project Delivery: The Case of the Nightingale Hospitals

Covid-19 is requiring unprecedented levels of project delivery by HMG in novel delivery contexts (time critical, outcome critical), which range from software development (e.g. testing; fruloughing scheme) to construction (e.g. Nightingale hosptials) to product development (e.g. ventilators). The evidence in conventional times is that this is done poorly and evidence suggests that would be even more challenging during the Covid-19 pandemic with remote working, sickness absences and social distancing.


But it appears that we are experiencing a Covid-19 Conundrum: Counterintuitively, substantial areas of 'urgent' or critical project delivery appear to be outperfoming conventional project delivery. This is particulary true for the Nightingale hospitals, which have been delivered in record time across the country. However, this too is proving problematic. The projects may have achieved performance in terms of their rapid delivery, but now some are not operational due to a lack of resources, whereas others are sitting empty because the demand had been overestimated.


Using the Nightingale hospital projects as cases, we plan to explore the phenomenon of 'urgent' project delivery in the time of COVID-19 to understand how it is different, to identify how existing practices might have to be adapted, and to examine what learning can be gleaned for conventional project delivery. This phenomenon can only be captured now: when the memories of the individuals involved in these projects are fresh and untainted; when the experience is still very recent and when there is still a sense of urgency.


With varying economic scenarios at the horizon HMG and the private sector will have to be flexible to quickly adapt to change and this adaptation is typically done through projects.

The lessons learned and insights gained from projects such as the Nightingale hospitals will be captured in a systematic and theoretically grounded way to then translate them into immediately implementable and useable guidelines and frameworks. By conducting rigorous empirical research with theoretical provenance we will be able to scale up the lessons learned in a way that it is beneficial to the whole of the UK economy