Project Management for Local Government

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14 Mar 2016

The Critical Role of Project Management in Consolidating Local Government

In 2015, a trend in local governments to establish or strengthen their PMOs reflected the forced amalgamation many New South Wales councils faced. The independent Local Government Review Panel recommended the consolidation of councils in 2013, suggesting a number of “super councils” be established. The new super councils would amalgamate current council districts in Sydney city and regional NSW, covering up to 800,000 people each.


The NSW Government has called the amalgamation preparation “Fit for the Future”, and has spent four years in consultation with industry and communities, and drawn on independent assessments (including the recent IPART Report), to reimagine a more streamlined approach to local governments in the state. The Government claims “the reforms will deliver substantial savings and benefits for local communities in Sydney and Regional NSW”.

The prospect of forced amalgamation has prompted councils to establish or strengthen their PMOs, and to develop their project management workforce. Why?  Development of project management skills and technologies demonstrates that local governments are “fit for the future” and ensures they have the capability to deliver the proposed changes.

So, What’s the Role of Project Management in These Reforms?

Project managers will change the face of local government by tailoring the project management approach. Soft project, change management, risk management, management of people (including employees, community members and the public), stakeholder management and communications planning all come into effect as councils prepare to undertake monolithic mergers.

Not only will amalgamations impact the internal resourcing of councils, it will impact the builders and other suppliers of councils, with amalgamations leading to more council work being outsourced to industry. Capital works will come into play as new building infrastructure is required to complete the amalgamations. New, larger buildings are expected to undergo construction to house the super councils. As these works are likely to take place across the state, funding for the amalgamations is expected to trickle into the construction industry.

Still, the key areas of focus will need to include workplace training, change management and communications. These three areas will play the most substantial and crucial roles in effecting smooth changeovers from small municipalities to large super councils, and should gain ample government funding.

In recognition of the sustained growth and expansion of the discipline of project management roles across all areas of industry, Elemental Projects offers project management consultancy services and a number of tailored training courses that reflect the industry context and needs. Our local government project management courses are offered in-house and range from 1-2 day unaccredited courses, to qualifications such as Certificate IV in Project Management and the ever popular Diploma of Project Management – all using customised local government course content and case studies. We also offer a standalone 1 day Project Management Simulation that combines team building with supercharged project management education, along with Program Management and Portfolio Management courses. These courses provide valuable employee skills and organisational capability to help municipalities handle changes, mergers, and capital works projects.

With the rise of digital technology many organisations favour a blended approach to learning, incorporating traditional classroom studies with e-learning. In particular, the use of video is an invaluable tool for embedding knowledge and managing large-scale change because of its scalable low cost format and widespread accessibility. In this capacity, Elemental Projects provides professional video production services to meet diverse client needs. For example, video technology can be used to provide staff updates, outline company policies, promote new or revised processes and tools and to establish a work community with a shared understanding and common practice.  These videos can be made available via intranets or other company communication channels using a self-service model or rolled out at defined milestones. Additional Key Performance Indicators can be incorporated into Employee Performance Reviews to track completion of training videos (which could incorporate quizzes or other retention tests) along with the use of other engagement measures (such as counting views, comments and likes) to track the effectiveness of each video.

Get in touch by calling (02) 8006 6782 to learn more about any of our services.