Western Australia (WA) Public Private Partnership (PPP) is a project that achieves to construct four new primary and four new middle schools between 2017 and 2023. It is expected that a program of such a significant level will possess a highly efficient management system to ensure the appropriate construction and maintenance of educational establishments. As the Office of the Auditor General indicates, the governance system comprises a steering committee established to deliver strategic guidance on the Project, and a project control group that gives general direction concerning Project’s realisation. Overall, the management system excellently delivers communication between all project participants, which have critical significance for the program’s successful outcomes.
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Nevertheless, despite the high organisational level, the project faces particular issues that hinder the adherence to the set delivery schedule. In particular, an audit conducted in 2018 disclosed the absence of an adequate contract management system. Despite the availability of two specially appointed staff for contract management, DoE did not develop a suitable contract management plan and inspection program to control the contract and check service performance adequately. These contract management tools are of acute necessity for long-term, high-value contracts since they guarantee that builds’ maintenance and other services correspond to contract specifications. In addition, there is a drawback of reliable information on costs about the maintenance of the DoE’s school system, resulting in tangle and mistrust between some stakeholders. Shortly, the governance system of the program encounters two identified issues that should be resolved to deliver excellent outcomes.
The problems in the management system created considerable difficulties while opening schools. Firstly, EduWest failed to provide sufficient recruitment and training of cleaning and gardening staff because of the lack of a transparent information management system, including required checks. Secondly, some furniture and equipment were wrongly selected and had to be replaced due to the limited time of the school principals’ involvement. Thirdly, contract management personnel were employed too late, namely, two months before school openings. EduWest did not design the electronic system (QFM) for recording school jobs, which follows the contract requirements.
Although the determined issues may be regarded as insignificant since the program progresses on schedule, resolving them can bring substantial advantages for the project. First, governance should formulate a competing philosophy utilising successful global practices, which unifies all the critical stakeholders. The philosophy should be related to the enhanced decision-making process at all levels. Second, the program should apply the up-to-date technology to be run by implementing unified information dissemination and reporting system to ensure the delivery of the latest information for all the stakeholders. For instance, a website can be designed, serving as a forum that shares the project’s updates for all the stakeholders. Third, it is necessary for governance to perform regular audits of contractors to detect problems and respond promptly and appropriately. An excellent example is a well-structured audit conducted by the Office of the Auditor General. The project governance should consider this experience and periodically evaluate the implementation process to identify operating and potential concerns.
Bourne and Walker propose developing a stakeholder circle in complex project management to fully incorporate the stakeholders and display this information effectively to understand stakeholder clustering. In other words, the relative power and interest to stakeholders may well change throughout the life-cycle of the project, which other more traditional approaches to stakeholder management and analysis do not readily capture. In particular, the stakeholders consist of DoE, EduWest, DoT, project manager, the cabinet, suppliers, contractors, school authorities, teachers, students, the community, media, and parents. Fig. 1 below presents the stakeholder circle for the WA Schools Public Private Partnership Project, created in AutoCAD.
In-depth analysis of Two Stakeholders
According to Figure 1, EduWest, the lead contractor, and DoE, the asset owner, are the two most powerful stakeholders. They both possess a substantial influence and proximity to the project, whereas their attitude to the programme is positive. Edu West is accountable for meeting all the requirements, including constructing and maintaining the facilities, following the timeline, and coordinating all other stakeholders. Thus, the stakeholder has a very close relation to the project but, simultaneously, cannot “kill” the project, which can be observed in the Stakeholder Circle. EduWest has the right to change any policies provided that they correspond to the initial contract requirements, which indicates that the first stakeholder’s influence is moderately high. The main interest of Edu West is obtaining the money for their performed work and enhancing its image to strengthen the organisation’s sustainability in the long run.
Regarding managing the relationships with the DoE, there is likely to be a measure of direct and indirect contact with all other stakeholders, and thus, different approaches to communication and managerial interaction are likely to be necessary. In particular, to assess the project implementation process, the communication can occur in the form of project progress meetings where the stakeholders can discuss the findings of Monthly Project reports and other emerged project-associated issues. Such conferences may be held at least once a quarter or even each month if possible.
At a strategic level, senior executives within the DoE will be concerned with overall project progress and commercial oversight. At a tactical level, the DoE will be controlling relationships with mid-level stakeholders, such as school headteachers, critical counterparts in EduWest, local community representatives, and public bodies, namely, the Auditor General. At an operational level, DoE representatives may be directly involved with the day-to-day supervision of the project delivery on a regular and frequent basis. A possible lack of this level of interaction may account for the initial challenges in project governance and scrutiny in the early stages.
The DoE is extremely close to the project and influences it considerably. The stakeholder’s primary interests are providing excellent educational outcomes, attaining value for money, and gaining the government’s and community’s approval. This shows that the DoE possesses a high interest in the given project. DoE is the major programme controller because EduWest is under its supervision. I offer to empower the stakeholder since the interest of the stakeholder is positive. Nonetheless, it should be overseen by the Department of Finance and community authorities.
While managing DoE, it is critical to consider their high influence and positive attitude towards the project. Hence, it is essential to facilitate active consultation with the stakeholder, provide the support of the entity, maintain its involvement in the project, and notify about all project-related changes. Particular actions may comprise scheduling monthly or quarterly joint meetings to esteem the satisfaction of the stakeholder with project approval. Such meetings also promote engaging DoE in the decision-making process. Simultaneously, the DoE should be updated about all details in the project changes and current or prospective project concerns. Therefore, the stakeholder should be provided by all the necessary reports and their comprehensive reviews. In conclusion, maintaining acceptance and engagement should be the central goal of DoE management strategy.