The Building the Education Revolution (BER) program comprised 2,904 school construction projects between 2009 and 2011 worth AU$2.58bn.
This included 1,253 primary school projects ranging from $100,000 to in excess of $3m, 70 secondary science and language centres and 1,581 school maintenance projects.
The projects were scheduled to occur within a tight timeframe to support the Australian Government’s economic stimulus plan, a response to the global financial crisis.
Arup was awarded the role of Program Manager for the BER program in Victoria. This involved providing direct support to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) and overall program-level management.
Arup was also tasked with overseeing four regional project management teams.
1,253primary school projects
70secondary and science languagecentres
It's social sustainability in providing educational outcomes, and economic sustainability in providing work and opportunities that filter through the economy. ”Rob Leslie-Carter
The Arup response allowed DEECD to be on the front foot in meeting Commonwealth expectations. It involved immediate mobilisation of an experienced program management team, active program management strategies from day one, and the ability to start working with the project management firms from two weeks in.
As well as focusing on immediate economic stimulus, both DEECD and Arup were committed to delivering educational facilities that would be true legacy assets.
The demands of the BER program initiated major changes to the process of procuring education capital works in Victoria. Rather than custom-designed solutions, a template-based approach was chosen.
Exemplar building design templates were developed, incorporating the best of contemporary educational planning and sustainable design principles. The templates focused on design quality and flexibility, strongly informed by contemporary learning environments.
The client was keen to engage fully with the commercial construction market, from multinational companies to small regional contractors. Arup developed a coordinated procurement strategy comprising standardised tender and contract documentation, and allowed work to be spread across the construction market.
Arup worked closely with DEECD to ensure effective consultation with stakeholders. This involved participation in large briefing presentations to contractors and construction material manufacturers and suppliers. Arup also helped schools choose appropriate design templates within tight decision timeframes.
Designing a program
The task was to conceive and implement improvements in Victoria’s education infrastructure, managing a multi-billion-dollar budget against a complex set of deliverables and sub-programs.
The process covered design, quality, financial and time management as well as procurement, stakeholder management and data collection, management and reporting.
Rapid development of a new and comprehensive program management process is surprisingly similar to a physical design project. The process involved design teams, constant review and ratification to deliver a solution that met the expectations of the client and the community.
© Clarke Hopkins Clarke
Data collection and reporting
One of Arup’s key responsibilities was to gather accurate data and monitor the financial and construction status of more than 2,000 active projects. The team was also responsible for monthly data uploads to the Commonwealth Government.
Arup’s team was always available to answer questions from the State Government, as well as responding to requests for information from other government agencies.
The PRiSM tool monitored the status of all 2,904 projects in real time and tracked all key issues, forthcoming events, exceptions and expenditure of the $2.58bn in funding. This represents a significant leap in program management database tools within Arup and the market as a whole.
In order to simplify reporting on this vast project, Arup adopted ‘dashboard’ summaries of key metrics for each of the several sub-programs. Substantial content included in the monthly report, such as detailed status reporting, exceptions and risk analysis, was presented behind the dashboard pages.
From program design to the application of Program Management Office concepts, Arup implemented Managing Successful Projects (MSP) principles, governance themes and transformational flow processes.
MSP is a UK Office of Government Commerce methodology and delivered a service capability that was new to Arup – both regionally and globally.