'Laser sharp prioritisation is required': Projects authority chief Nick Smallwood sets sights on improved delivery

Infrastructure and Projects Authority chief Nick Smallwood reflects on big year for Government Major Projects Portfolio, considers 2024 priorities and picks favourite Christmas treat
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By CSW staff

21 Dec 2023


Tell us three words that sum up your 2023... 

My three words to sum up my 2023 would be ‘what 3 words’.  

...And why you chose those words  

"What" is ‘what a year!’ 

The Government Major Projects Portfolio has doubled to over 240 projects and programmes, our Private Finance Initiative work has grown, a number of memorandum of understandings have been signed in support of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s priorities internationally, and our cross-government project academy was formally launched, which has supported the launch of our assessment and accreditations for the project delivery community. 

"3" is ‘the 3 Ps’.  

People, principles and performance are what will make a difference to delivering major projects. 

They continue to be acutely relevant to our work in IPA and across the Government Project Delivery Function. 

Finally, "words". 

Words are not enough. We need actionable steps to improve project delivery against the challenging fiscal outlook and limited resources we all have. Laser sharp prioritisation will be required to deliver our key projects. 

What are your organisational and personal priorities for 2024?  

From an organisational point of view, we have continued to strengthen our matrix ways of working across the IPA. This means better leveraging the use of data, intelligence, experience and expertise that we have here - ultimately allowing us to enhance our expert advice to departments and wider stakeholders. In 2024, we must operationalise a more impactful performance framework, centred on data driven insights - improving the deliverability of our major projects and programmes.  

Chief Project Delivery Officers (CPDOs) across departments will be actively encouraging project delivery professionals to gain their accreditation qualification, and will look to further improve their skills and competence through a range of available training and tools. 

My personal ambition is to continue to learn what a ‘digital project delivery future’ will look like and prepare us for that (or should that say "catch up"?). 

What’s your favourite festive treat, and what makes you say: ‘Bah, humbug’?  

I am a chocoholic at heart so it's not Christmas pudding for me but a healthy chocolate dessert! It's my birthday on Christmas Day so I am not a humbug type of person, rather I get two celebrations in one day! (I got used to the one present routine many years ago and, remember, it's the thought that counts).  

This is part of CSW's annual perm secs roundup. Read all the entries to the 2023 roundup here

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