Professor Terry Williams

  • Professor of Management Science

Professor Terry Williams

Professor of Management Science
Hull University Business School
University of Hull

Terry Williams has 40 years’ experience in Operational Research (OR), modelling the behaviour of complex systems particularly projects. He was until February 2016 Dean of a major Business School at the University of Hull, UK. Prior to that he was Director of Southampton University's Management School, and previously at Strathclyde University. The last 3 years he has set up and directed the successful Risk Institute at the University of Hull, undertaking consulting and applied research in areas involving risk, particularly in complex systems involving human aspects.

He has experience of working with public organisations such the Cabinet Office Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA) (where he is one of the leaders in project delivery research); UK Ministry of Defence (as advisor and also as a technical auditor for Dstl), Home Office (as a researcher in cross-working across all departments), Department for Business Innovation & Skills (on entrepreneurship skills for small business performance) and the OECD (where he got to know the Directorates and their management of projects). While in industry, he spent 9 years building up a successful practice (and a small team) in non-military OR in engineering consultancy YARD; this first worked in logistics but then specialised in Project-Risk Management (PRM) of major projects, including acting as Risk Manager for some major defence projects. From here he went to Strathclyde where, as well as working in PRM, a team developed to support major post-project litigation claims, which supported claims, particularly Delay and Disruption, totalling over $1.5billion in Europe and North America. He continues to act as a consultant on major Delay & Disruption claims and advise on project behaviour. He is known for managing business schools, and has acted as a Business School reviewer.

He is well known in the OR and Project Management worlds. He co-edited the prestigious Journal of the OR Society for 10 years. He has written 90 peer-reviewed journal papers and a number of books, and has an “h-index” of 50. His research covers modelling uncertain systems involving humans, from real-world modelling of complexity and modelling UK operations within the remit of the Home Office, to modelling battles and to production systems. A feature of much of this research has been the multi-disciplinary team approach. He has been involved in multiple EPSRC/ESRC contracts as well as multiple Project Management Institute (PMI) research contracts. He is a member of the UK government's “REF” panel which reviews UK research (2014 and 2021 panels).

He has particularly concentrated on modelling complex projects, and has become a leader in the worldwide Project Management research community and a widely used speaker. He is currently a theme leader on the IPAs “Project X”, looking at how to manage the Government Major Projects Portfolio. He sits on the Academic Members Advisory Group of the PMI. He is a member and leader of multiple research groups and writes and speaks on projects, including around a number of books on modelling projects, learning, governance and front-end analysis.

He tepped down to concentrate on research and consulting, and in particular to set up a Risk Institute. A major part of this researches operational risk arising from human factors; he is a theme leader on the University’s “Aura” project, supporting offshore wind farms, and holds a major contract to research human-factors-related risk to wind-farm operations & maintenance; he also works with utility companies on human factor risk within their workforce.

He has an MA in from Oxford University, an MSc and PhD in from the University of Birmingham. He is a qualified project manager (PMP), is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (and Chartered Mathematician); a Fellow of the Operational Research Society; and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

1975 1978: University of Oxford (Christ Church). M.A. (1st Class) degree in Mathematics
1978 1980 (and part-time to 1983): University of Birmingham. M.Sc. in Operational Research; PhD in Engineering Production
1981 1984: University of Strathclyde. Lecturer in Operational Research.
1984 1992: YARD LTD (now BAE SYSTEMS). O.R. Principal Consultant
1992 2005: University of Strathclyde. Lecturer rising to Professor in Operational Research. Head of Dept. 2001-2005
2005- 2011: University of Southampton. Professor of Management Science. Head of School of Management 2008-2011.
2011-2016 Dean of the Hull University Business School and Professor of Management Science.
2016- Director of the University of Hull Risk Institute

Research & Consulting Funding
Examples of consultancy:
• Considerable consulting work in Delay and Disruption litigation and other project analysis for clients in Canada, England, Scotland and N.Ireland.
• A number of assignments for OECD, including project management practice
• Advice to firms on occupational stress amongst workers
• Work in Project Risk Management eg for MoD.
• A number of OR contracts (eg with UK Home Office on top-level modelling.
• Advisor to dstl (activity auditor) and consultancy to dstl on decision-making

Examples of major research projects:
• Research Councils
o ESRC / IPA Project X grant “improving project delivery”
o Facilitated EPSRC Science & Innovation contract
o CI in EPSRC “Complexity for the real world”
o EPSRC Masters Training Packages (MTPs)
o EPSRC network
o ESRC Postdoctoral scholarship
• Industrial research projects
o Demowind grant on human factors in offshore wind operations & maintenance.
o Dstl PhD+ grant on systemic risk in contracts
o Multiple Project Management Institute grants, totalling over $500m as well as PMI “Value” project
o Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) research centre (H&IE and EPSRC)
o Set up KTP with RNLI
o Project into risk in major manufacturing projects; renewable energy economics.; processes in Milwaukee Childrens’ Hospital etc.

  Example Publications
Books include:
• Williams TM (2002) Modelling Complex Projects. Wiley, Chichester, UK. ISBN 0-471-89945-3
• Williams TM (2008) Management Science in Practice. Chichester UK: Wiley
• Klakegg OJ, Williams TM, Magnussen OM (2009) Governance frameworks for public project development and estimation . Newtown Square, PA, US: Project Management Institute.
• Williams TM and Samset K (2012) (eds) Project Governance: Getting Investments right. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave

90 peer-reviewed publications including:
• Williams, T.M., Eden, C.L., Ackermann, F.R., and Tait, A. (1995). Vicious circles of parallelism. International Journal of Project Management 13, 3, 151-155.
• Williams, T.M. (1999) The need for new paradigms for complex projects. Int.J.Proj.Mgmt. 17, 269-273
• Eden, C.E., Williams, T.M., Ackermann, F.A. and Howick, S. (2000) On the Nature of Disruption and Delay (D&D) in major projects. Journal of the Operational Research Society 51, 3, 291 – 300
• Eden C, Ackermann F and Williams T. (2005) The Amoebic Growth of Project Costs. Project Management Journal 36 (2) 15-27
• Williams T (2005) Assessing and moving on from the dominant project management discourse in the light of project overruns. IEEE Transactions in Engineering Management 52, 4, 497- 508
• Cicmil, S, Williams, T, Thomas, J and Hodgson D. (2006) Rethinking Project Management: Researching the Actuality of Projects. International Journal of Project Management 24, 8, 675-686
• Ackermann F, Eden C, Williams T, and Howick S. (2007) Systemic Risk Assessment: a case study. Journal of the Operational Research Society. 58 (1) 39-51
• Williams T.M. (2008) How do organisations learn lessons from projects – and do they? IEEE Transactions in Engineering Management 55, 2, 248-266
• Howick S, Eden C, Ackermann F & Williams T (2008) Building Confidence in Models for Multiple Audiences: the Modelling Cascade. European Journal of Operational Research 186, 1068–1083
• O’Leary T and Williams T. (2008) Making a difference? - evaluating an innovative approach to improving project delivery capability in a UK government department.. International Journal of Project Management 26, 5, 556-565
• Williams T and Samset K. (2010) Issues in front-end decision-making on projects. Proj.Mgmt.J.41, 2, 38-49
• Geraldi JG, Maylor H and Williams TM. (2011) Now, let’s make it really complex (complicated): a systematic review of the complexities of projects. Int.J.Ops.Prod.Mgmt. 31, 9, 966-990
• O’Leary T and Williams T (2013) Managing the social trajectory: a practice perspective on project management. IEEE Trans.Eng.Mgmt. 60, 3, 566-580
• Williams TM (2016) Identifying Success Factors in Construction Projects: A Case Study. Proj.Mgmt.J. 47, 1, 97-112
• Bloomfield K, Williams T, Bovis C, Merali Y (2019) Systemic Risk in Major Public Contracts. International Journal of Forecasting. 35, 2, 667-676
• Chipulu, M., Ojiako, U., Marshall, A., Williams, T., et al (2019), A dimensional analysis of stakeholder assessment of project outcomes, Production Planning & Control, 30, 13, 1072-1090
• Williams TM, Vo H, Samset K, Edkins A (2019) The front-end of projects: a systematic literature review and structuring. Production Planning and Control 30, 14, 1137-1169
• Williams T, Vo H, Bourne M, Bourne P, Cooke-Davies T, Kirkham R, Masterton G, Quattrone P and Valette J (2020) A Cross-national Comparison of Project Benefits Management Practices – The Effectiveness of Benefits Management Frameworks in Application. To appear in Production Planning & Control
• Petro, Y., Ojiako, U., Williams, T., and Marshall, A. (2020), Organizational ambidexterity: using project portfolio management to support project-level ambidexterity. To appear in Production Planning & Control,
• Eltigani A, Gardiner P, Williams T, Kirkham R, Ou L, Calabrese A (2020). Learning in projects: The learning modes and a learning capability model. To appear in Production Planning & Control