With federal and state governments keen to kickstart the economy, councils have more funding available this year than ever before.

This means there are plenty of opportunities to boost your community’s infrastructure and services. But before getting swept away with the possibilities this could bring our communities, it’s important to take the time to consider and manage the risks.

Here’s what you need to be aware of during the process – from submitting your application to project completion.

Community engagement: Meeting community expectations

Before preparing your application, it’s imperative you’ve identified the need for the project or service.

Does your community support the local playground being upgraded? Have elected members supported expenditure allocation?

Community engagement and consultation is an important first step when planning a project. Miss the mark on the values of your constituents and you’ll risk reputational damage. And this will be just the start of your worries.

A project plan: Talking the talk – and walking the walk

If your grant is successful, has your team got the capacity to execute it? And if your council is applying for more than one grant, how will you ensure their delivery?

To ensure your plans are feasible, you’ll need to create a detailed project plan. This should outline:

  • Project governance and the roles of internal staff
  • Project funding and timelines
  • If and when you’ll need external guidance during the project
  • Future community engagement around the project

To put your plan in place, you’ll need to consult with identified internal stakeholders involved in the project, particularly those with expertise in:

  • Risk management
  • Finance
  • Project management
  • Contracts
  • Construction
  • Infrastructure management

Effective execution: Planning, stakeholder communication & monitoring

Most funding comes with the condition your project must be completed within a certain time frame. So if you want to stay out of hot water, you need to run to schedule.

There are a few areas you’ll need to be on top of when it comes time to execute a project.

If you’ve done your pre-planning well, by this point you should have clear project milestones in place. While you don’t want to turn every task into a milestone, organising your project around the most vital tasks will help everything move smoothly.

You’ll need to monitor and review these targets as the project progresses.

Ongoing supervision of all works and work practices is a must. Having a supervisor onsite regularly is not only a safety measure – it also means someone can regularly review and report back to stakeholders as you hit (or miss!) targets and milestones.

Effective contractor management is also key. It’s best practice to have ongoing supervision of all contracts, and to have pre-determined payments for contractors on project milestones.

Ongoing maintenance: Asset lifecycle considerations

When proposing a new service or asset, you must consider the resources required to maintain it – not just create it – throughout its nominated lifecycle.

For infrastructure, this should cover regular inspection and replacement. Also ensure you can source replacement items and materials easily when needed.

Lastly, ask yourself: Have your service standards been determined? And are you capable of meeting them?

A final word

Remember that failing to plan and manage grant-funded projects can result in:

  • Projects not meeting requirements
  • Community outcomes expectations going unmet
  • Projects exceeding budget
  • Fraud
  • Injury, to third party or council staff members
  • Damage to third party property
  • Environmental damage
  • Fines

Need assistance? Please reach out to your designated Statewide Mutual Risk Manager for further support.

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