The significant tranche of PFI projects approaching handback over the next few years has led to much discussion about preparedness (and no small amount of handwringing). The unprecedented nature of these initial PFI project handbacks means that there is no tried-and-true manual to refer to when red-lights start flashing and alarms are sounding. Uncertainty surrounds the process, as parties vie for position to ensure their success post-project.

Paul Jarvis’ excellent article “Under Pressure” in the Partnerships Bulletin from October 2022 paints a picture of a tumultuous period ahead. As a decade’s austerity measures bite, so does the pressure mount on the public sector to deliver more, whilst spending less. Naturally, this pressure flows downstream, exerting ever-greater pressure on contractors to deliver the project on-time and on-budget, leading to a more adversarial relationship between the parties. Woe betides those whose compliance houses are not in order leading into this final stretch.

This highly-pressurised environment brings with it the detriments one would expect – decreased job satisfaction, increased stress, impacted performance and burnout abound under the yoke of it all. The mental health toll doesn’t go unnoticed and has a knock-on effect for parties looking to recruit new staff.

Paul’s article details a number of different efforts to respond to this ongoing issue, including the Infrastructure & Projects Authority and DLA Piper’s Project Autumn, both of which seek to ameliorate the process at an industry level.

At the organisational level, where we can exert the greatest control, two major considerations can be given to orchestrate improved peace of mind. The first is culture – ensuring the right people and processes are in place to drive the project/business in the right direction. The second is technology – which helps embed processes and inspires confidence in the people engaged in the processes.

If you are managing a PFI contract that is approaching handback, can you confidently say that yourself and your team are in a strong position to deliver on all your obligations? Are there missing links in your compliance? Gaps in your understanding of how decisions were made throughout the course of the project? And if there are, what toll is that taking on your team?

As per DLA Piper’s Project Autumn synopsis, “the success of the expiry phase of the UK’s £57 billion (capital value) Private Finance Initiative portfolio is critical to the future of private investment in public infrastructure in the UK.” Ensuring your team are well-positioned to navigate this transition starts and ends with people, processes and technology.

We’d love to discuss your project with you if you’d like to learn more about the power of Intelligent Document Format to deliver peace of mind.

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