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Case Study

Downer Professional Services Uses Latest Program & Project Management Methodologies to Solve Complex Challenges

Nov 30, 2023 • 1 min read


Our client is a major Federal Government department responsible for key strategic decision making and tactical implementation that is vital to maintaining Australia’s sovereignty and security. To this end, our client is responsible for the capability planning of thousands of Asset items including one of the largest and most complex fixed and deployed ICT networks in Australia. They also maintain over 134,000 workstations; 8,400 servers and 3,000 applications in support of over 133,000 users.

Client’s Challenge

The primary challenge facing our client during this Project was their need to deliver numerous modernised, integrated, and sustainable ICT networks for use on a number of deployed mobile environments. These networks would need to support the client’s business objectives within a dynamic and constantly changing environment.

This requirement had to be delivered to a strict schedule and limited budget. It also involved the engagement of multiple senior and diverse stakeholders with competing needs and requirements.

Further complicating matters was the need to maintain existing capability while upgrading the mobile environments. This meant that upgrade times would need to be closely managed so that the client’s Business as Usual requirements would not be impacted.

Addressing the Challenge

Upon successful engagement, Downer Professional Services rapidly onboarded a highly experienced team of certified Project and Program Managers (PPM). These professionals had demonstrated experience in the delivery of complex Public Sector projects and were able to leverage their professional networks to keep up to date in the latest Project Management methodologies and frameworks. Their qualifications included PRINCE2, MSP, Agile PM, and Diplomas of Project Management.

The team hit the ground running by implementing the patented Downer Standard to deliver high calibre project outcomes and outputs during service delivery. The team was led by an experienced Engagement Director and Delivery Manager who assigned roles and responsibilities within a high functioning Project Management Office (PMO) that included both client and Downer Professional Services staff.

  • Scope & Quality – A robust project governance framework was implemented that closely managed the evolving project scope and resource profile. This framework had an emphasis on continual reassessment that met the changing needs of the program and delivery schedule.

    Project delivery was complemented by an overarching quality assurance approach that was not just solely focused on the technical delivery, but also considered the diverse and changing needs of a complex and politicised stakeholder environment. This significantly mitigated the risk of the project’s performance not syncing holistically with client expectations.
  • Stakeholder Engagement & Communication – Experienced Change Managers were onboarded to ensure clients and stakeholders at all levels were informed and guided through the Project Lifecycle. This ensured effective intra and inter team communications that supported effective working and maximised stakeholder acceptance and adoption, including the use of recognised future branding.
  • Integrated Master Schedule – A highly experienced and qualified Program Scheduler was integrated into the team early in the engagement. The role was to build, monitor and continuously update an Integrated Program Schedule that would maintain continuous oversight of the project’s various dependencies and schedule risks.
  • Risk and Issue (R&I) Management – A R&I Manager was appointed within the PMO to regularly meet with Stream Leads so they could proactively identify and effectively manage risks and issues. They also ran regular R&I Workshops which all Stream Leads and key stakeholders would attend and discuss R&I’s rated as ‘High’ and with an impending due date. This enabled the early identification of program-level risks along with the close monitoring and reporting of key mitigation activities.
  • People & Workforce Management – Downer Professional Services ensured that key leadership personnel were fully embedded into the project, as this greatly improved access and communication with the client. This in turn assisted the Downer Professional Services PMO to understand client requirements which supported the creation and maintenance of a cohesive, high-performing delivery team that was focused on client outcomes and on assisting the existing team to build its capability.

    Additionally, Downer Professional Services implemented a workforce requirements review of all project activities. The aim of this review was to improve staff retention by reducing the risk of staff burn out.
  • Learning, Knowledge & Collaboration – The PMO held regular project reviews and lessons learned sessions that led to the continuous improvement of staff and project performance. Downer Professional Services also provided its staff with a generous training budget that enabled its staff to remain up to date with the latest Project Management methodologies, upskill in leading technologies and to fulfil their aspirational career goals.
  • Health, Safety & Environment – Downer Professional Services is committed to its strict Zero Harm policy which aims to safeguard the physical and mental well-being of its staff. The Engagement Director was aware that targeted health and well-being initiatives would be required to support joint team personnel during this project. This was due to the high frequency of travel to various locations and environments planned during the life of this project. As such, they consulted with staff about how these initiatives could be best tailored to their needs and then implemented them based on their feedback.

Key Results

The collaborative efforts of Downer Professional Services and our client have ensured that the key elements of the project scope were delivered both on time and within budget.

This included a timeframe during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic when the PMO had to rapidly reschedule and rescope certain activities so that project progress could be maintained. The PMO’s strong relationships built with key clients enabled them to achieve high levels of stakeholder buy-in and to ensure that existing capability was maintained and improved throughout the updated project lifecycle.

Key staff were also retained throughout the project lifecycle and staff surveys revealed high satisfaction levels in the types of work completed and broader culture of the Delivery Team.

Key comments revealed that PMO staff were extremely proud of the strategic collaboration achieved between Downer Professional Services and our client that enabled us to deliver the next generation of ICT capabilities within their complex operational environment.