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How to measure and manage the UK Government’s major project portfolio

Michael Bourne (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK)
David Anker (School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK)
Glen Chambers (School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK)
Laszlo Torjai (School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 22 September 2020

Issue publication date: 20 November 2020




The purpose of this paper is to stimulate changes to the way performance data is used to improve performance taking the government’s use of project data as an example.


This paper uses systems theory to review the way the government’s major projects portfolio should be analysed.


This paper concludes that broader engagement in the analytics process should be considered as a way of improving insights and learning from reviews. The paper suggests that report alone has limited value.

Research limitations/implications

By taking a systems approach, this study raises questions about the methods used to manage data analysis and system improvements. Systems thinking is a useful tool to consider applications such as the performance of the government’s project portfolio, but there are many other approaches that can be applied.

Practical implications

This study makes very specific recommendations around the roles and responsibilities of people and teams at different levels in the system. Roles and activities are described together with recommendations about interfering in and overreaching these roles and activities.


This paper synthesises a number of systems approaches together with a view of why “we measure” to create a framework for analysing approaches to performance improvement. The practical application provided here gives insights into how these approaches can be used in real-life contexts.



Bourne, M., Anker, D., Chambers, G. and Torjai, L. (2020), "How to measure and manage the UK Government’s major project portfolio", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 461-474.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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