Insider Tips from the Project of the Year Award Winner and Finalists

It's a simple reality: All projects should serve a need. And SA Water Corp. had convinced stakeholders the solution for Australia's lingering drought was an AU$1.4 billion desalination plant. As the drought deepened, the government even increased the project budget by AU$450 million, pledging to double capacity and begin production 12 months early. But then it rained. And as the water flowed, support for the project ebbed. The team quickly responded -- a case study in how outstanding project management and stakeholder communication can turn the tide. 

The team completed the project 19 days early and within 1 percent of the original budget, earning the 2013 PMI Project of the Year Award. 

"This means a lot to everyone in this project who made such a huge difference in my state and to the nation," said Milind Kumar, SA Water's project and operations director, at the awards ceremony held at the PMI® Global Congress 2013 -- North America in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. "We made our state much better off for now and forever."

SA Water was honored along with two finalists: 

Nemours Children's Hospital Project, Nemours, Orlando, Florida, USA: To design and build a US$397 million pediatric hospital, Nemours specifically sought out the feedback of children and their families. The project team also relied on rigorous change management processes to handle the many viewpoints of the 700 physicians and other employees hired in the final months of the project. The team completed the project on time and within budget in October 2012.

Savannah River Site Recovery Act Project, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Aiken, South Carolina, USA: In 2009, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions launched a US$1.4 billion project to reduce the contaminated footprint and clean up the radioactive waste at Savannah River Site. The team surpassed its cleanup goals while bolstering the local economy by retaining 800 workers and hiring 1,400 new ones.

In a panel discussion, representatives from all three organizations each offered up one piece of advice for project practitioners working on any kind of project:

Don't be afraid to air some dirty laundry, said Susan Voltz, PMP, senior director, strategy and project management, Nemours. Creating a culture in which raising red flags is good helps avoid unpleasant surprises. 

Take the time to plan before you dig into delivery, said Paul Hunt, project manager and senior vice president of environmental management operations, SRNS.  

There can't be just one leader, said Mr. Kumar. There should be a network of leaders who will tell the truth -- good, bad or ugly.

Check out videos of all the finalists on and read full case studies in upcoming issues of PM Network.
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