by Paul Renals, Project Advisory Leader
In the current climate it’s safe to say that the government financial reserves are going into the red. It is also fairly safe to assume that there will be much needed grant stimulus injected into local government infrastructure and community focussed projects in the not too distant future…..more on that in our next article.
As ‘the curve flattens’, the conundrum that State and Federal Governments must turn their attention towards is where this much needed funding is coming from. Is it possible that current grant funded projects could be cancelled? Generally, we feel that is not the case, however, it may be feasible that without being able to demonstrate solid progress and commitment to current projects that uncommitted funding could be redirected to new grants? That is a scenario that needs consideration.
We are not suggesting project panic buying. Committing funds by rushing into contracts without adequate project planning, consultation, procurement process and management of risks for example will only lead to poor outcomes and big headaches. In fact, investment in these fundamental project management elements is more important than ever. Through robust focus on project management, councils can demonstrate solid project progress to their funders, assuring their current funding and deriving greater value from their grant dollar. That’s a win on all accounts.
Project Management is not without challenges. The grant funding application process often requires project plans, procurement strategies, programs, business cases and other key considerations to support the proposition. However, in the almost certain rush to meet grant deadlines these applications are inevitably based on varying degrees of assumption and the best information available at the time. When you win the grant, it can be tempting to pick up these plans unchallenged and run with them - leading to problems down the track. Alternatively, the deadlines can seem far away and which can invoke a degree of complacency. The project gets re-prioritised and relegated to the ‘to-do’ list, resources are not available and its harder to deliver than expected. This can then attract added scrutiny and pressure from various stakeholders.
To mitigate this, we recommend a stronger than ever focus on project management and your grant delivery is fundamental right now to provide insurance against losing grant funding. Be on the front foot with project planning and maintain momentum with structured and effective progress. We will need to be able to demonstrate a clear, well thought out path all the way to the acquittals.
Our next article will be providing our insights on getting ‘shovel ready’ to ensure you can maximise your success with the expected release of economic stimulus grants.