Project management and The Grand National

Whether delivering an IT Project or riding in the Grand National both require a talented team of people and a clear framework to be successful. What are the other similarities?

On Saturday 6th April the most popular jumps race on the calendar will see 40 runners take on the daunting obstacles of Aintree's 30 Grand National fences over the course of four and a half miles. The race, with its high fences, famous Becher's Brook and a total prize fund of £1M, must surely be one of the most challenging and sought-after races to win.  So, let's saddle up and imagine how you could apply project management to The Grand National.

Strategy and Planning

Like any IT project, the right strategy coupled with effective preparation and planning are vital to get a good start.

  • Choose and on-board your sponsor;projectmanagementandthegrandnational
  • Decide on, and, create your strategy;
  • Gather the best team;
  • Pick your best jockey;
  • Use your fittest horse(s);
  • Set your goal - to win!


As a trainer and jockey,  you need to make sure that your horse(s) will be ready to run the race and that they have not been booked for another race too near the big day. You also want your best available horses and jockeys as fit as possible.

As a project manager you want to make sure that you have the best available people working on your project, that you can allocate all your people efficiently and effectively and that you have enough people to finish the project on time. This is where the right resource management software can really help; offering you complete visibility of all your people and their skills to ensure that you know who the best available people are for your project.

Knowledge Management

Ideally, a trainer chooses a jockey who has ridden the Grand National before so that he or she will know the course and what to expect. First-time Grand National riders may lack the confidence of more experienced riders; they have to learn the course and are not familiar with all the risks and pitfalls. 

As an IT project manager you ideally need to have the same people working on the same projects each time to ensure consistent delivery.  You also need to ensure that the people working on your project have access to all the knowledge, instructions and information so that they know how to deliver the project in the most efficient way. Therefore, a robust Knowledge management strategy is vital to project success. 

Project teams that use Hydra blueprinting technology have access to a complete project delivery roadmap. Blueprints combine the basic information of a plan with a wealth of information that give a 3D view of the whole delivery process, reflecting the best practice of your organisation. Blueprints not only tell you what should be done, they tell you how and who the best person is for the job, creating a standardised and optimised project delivery plan down to the granular level.

For more on Hydra blueprinting check out our video

Risk Management 

The famous Aintree course has the predictable ditches, water jumps and fences. A jockey knows where they are on the course and can plan his or her strategy for getting over them safely. However, they can't know where the other horses will be in relation to them when they make that critical jump. They can only plan their strategy based on what they know.

Similarly in project management you can build a risk management strategy based on passed history and the known pitfalls in a project, however there will always be those unknowns that cause problems. Having a sound risk management strategy created using 'What-If' scenario planning software can help you map the risks and develop contingency plans. 


Clear communication between a jockey and his horse when racing in the Grand National is vital to stop the horse veering off-course.  A jockey is in constant communication with his horse throughout the race, he is driving his horse with its reigns rather like a project management office drives a project. A jockey must keep a firm grip on his reigns, much like any project manager must maintain a firm grip on a project to ensure that it stays on course.

Measurement and Results

A trainer, jockey and horse base their success on the number of races they win.  Similarly, setting the right success criteria for your IT project and aligning the criteria with each of your Stakeholders goals and expectations is vital to the success of your project. 

Are you ready to take your project management to the next level?

Whether racing in The Grand National or delivering an IT project, both require a talented team of people and a clear framework to be successful

  • The right strategy;
  • Effective preparation and planning;
  • The best people available at the right time;
  • Access to the right knowledge and information;
  • Knowledge of the risks and what to do if they arise;
  • Effective communication;
  • The right tools for measuring the results of your project.

Connect with us to learn more about how the right project management software can help you deliver more of your IT projects successfully. 

Find out more