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Sydney Opera House Project management Critical Essay

The construction of Sydney Opera House, which started in 1957, is one of the projects that I got a chance to research on while in college. It is a perfect example showing the impact of poor project planning on an organization.

During this period (1997), planners had estimated that the project would last 6 years, and would cost $7 million (Murray, 2013). Unfortunately, the project’s triple constrain priorities were not clear and were changed on several occasions before the project got completed. The change of one priority automatically affected the others.

One of the initial changes was done on the layout of the building. During the construction, the multipurpose opera hall’s design was changed. This affected the interior layout. This confirms the effect of changing a priority. This further caused other unprecedented changes such as the introduction of a cinema, theatre, and library.

The consequence of these changes is that the project was completed in ten years later, and ended up costing $102 million. It took more time and costs than what the planners expected. The scope of the project ought to be clearly defined before the project. This could have helped the planners avoid changing priorities (Schwalbe, 2010). Moreover, they could have saved on costs and time, among other things.

Project attributes have several dimensions that must be managed simultaneously. They include people involved in the implementation of projects, communication and the level of collaboration between them, time available, and the type and level of knowledge and skills needed to complete certain tasks. They also include management of risks, coordination of sub-projects or project activities, and organizational and cultural changes involved in the project (Mazura, Pisarskia, Chang, & Ashkanasy, 2013).

Projects come in different sizes and shapes. Their attributes are used in enhancing the definition of a project. Firstly, every project must have a unique purpose. It should have a clearly defined objective. In reference to the aforementioned case, an example of this objective is to build an opera house. This attribute helps in the analysis of the success of the project. It also determines the most relevant projects (Meredith & Mantel, 2011).

Secondly, a project is temporary. This implies that it is not done in an abstract. It must have a clearly defined start and an end. In the aforementioned project for instance, the Opera house was to be constructed in a period of six years. Thirdly, the development of a project is done through a progressive elaboration (Brown & Hyer, 2010).

As earlier mentioned, a project has a clear objective, but due to its complex nature, the definition may be too broad. The details of a project become clear as time passes. This is confirmed in the case of Opera house, whereby the objective was time-based (build the house in six years). Projects keep on being updated in order to reflect how the interior should be designed (Gido & Clements, 2012).

A project can lead to the creation of many projects in an event where the planned priorities are changed or constrained. The constrained priorities include time, scope, and cost. The scope of the project is concerned with what the entire project entails, as well as the expected results (Hartmann & Brisko, 2010). It also involves determining project justifications, tasks, and accomplishment dates. Changing the scope leads to the emergence of multiple projects.

For instance, in the first place, the scope of the project discussed earlier is to build an opera house. However, the scope is changed to building a concert hall. This further encourages the introduction of a new project or sub-project, concerned with building the concert hall.

Secondly, the time factor is an important constrained priority. Changes made to this factor may lead to multiple projects. For example, if the priority in the first place was to build an opera house in two years, and the time is changed to one year, it is obvious that a new project would be created to help achieve goals. The cost and the budget allocated to the implementation of a project are constant. However, changes can be employed in the budget in order to help implement the initial project.

Project conception is the first phase of project management and involves examination of an idea with regard to the benefits it brings to the organization. A decision is then made as to whether the idea is feasible. The second phase is project definition and planning. It involves outlining the work to be done in the project.

The project plan is then written down outlining a number of things. These include a budget, a schedule, and the resources needed to implement the idea (Fewings, 2013). Project launch or execution is the third phase. It involves the distribution of resources to the project teams. The project teams are also made aware of their responsibilities in the implementation of the project. The fourth phase is the project performance and control.

In this phase, project managers compare the progress made against the pre-drafted plan. Depending on the progress made, they adjust the pre-set schedules or develop mechanisms aimed at streamlining the project with the project plan (Brown & Hyer, 2010). The last phase is the project close. In this phase, clients approve completed project tasks. The project managers then conduct an evaluation of its successes and failures (Kerzner, 2010).


Brown, K. A., & Hyer, N. L. (2010). Managing projects: A team-based approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Fewings, P. (2013). Construction Project Management: an integrated approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Gido, J., & Clements, J. P. (2012). Successful project management. Australia: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Hartmann, S., & Briskorn, D. (2010). A survey of variants and extensions of the resource-constrained project scheduling problem. European Journal of Operational Research. 207(1), 1-14.

Kerzner, H. R., & Learning, I. I. (2013). Project management – best practices: Achieving global excellence. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Mazura, A., Pisarskia, A., Chang, A., & Ashkanasy, N. M. (2013). Rating defence major project success: The role of personal attributes and stakeholder relationships. International Journal of Project Management. 32(1), 1-23.

Meredith, J. R., & Mantel, S. J. (2012). Project management: A managerial approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Murray, P. (2013). The saga of Sydney Opera House: the dramatic story of the design and construction of the icon of modern Australia. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Schwalbe, K. (2010). Information technology Project Management. Boston, MA: Course Technology/Cengage Learning.

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