The Millennium Dome, London, Successful Project
The Millennium Dome project, constructed in London is an example of a successful project. The project is discussed in this section.
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Introduction to the Project
The Millennium Dome was built to be timed with the year 2000 when the new millennium was supposed to start. It was supposed to be an icon of achievement for Tony Blair who had called it “In the Dome, we have a creation that, I believe, will truly be a beacon to the world“. The budget was 758 million GBP but with skillful use of project management techniques, the dome was built with just 43 million GBP or 4% of the initial cost. The dome served as an exhibition space and was very popular when it was in use and received more than 6 million visitors (Starkey, 2002).
Objectives of the Project were (Meredith, 2006):
- To construct a multi-purpose semi-enclosed dome that would serve as a center for exhibitions, sports activities, shows, and other public events as per the given time deadline and budgeted cost (Bourn, 2000).
- To reclaim the Greenwich Peninsula that had become a toxic wasteland full of waste, refuge, and toxic waste. It was felt that by constructing the dome on this waste area, the wasteland would be converted into valuable state property and could be used for commercial activities or could be leased and sold to private parties (Bourn, 2000).
- To provide people with an excellent avenue for entertainment and create an iconic structure that people could look at with pride (Bourn, 2000).
Project Stakeholder Analysis
Stakeholders involved in the project were: Tony Blair, the PM of the UK and his government; McAlpine – Laing Joint Venture, the joint venture that was the contractor, The New Millennium Experience Company, and the Greenwich Peninsula. An analysis of the stakeholders is as given below (Bourn, 2000):
Tony Blair and the UK Government
The Prime Minister wanted the dome to be constructed in time for the Millennium celebrations that were planned in 2000. The project was supposed to highlight this achievement and remind people of the creative activities that the government-supported. The dome was regarded by the government as a great achievement that would be an attraction to the public who would be entertained by a large number of shows and exhibitions that were planned for the event. If the project was successfully completed, then the government would be able to use it as propaganda to highlight their achievement. If the project failed for some reason or the other, then the government would be held accountable and enemies and the opposition parties would use the project failure to highlight the failings of the government led by Tony Blair (Bourn, 2000).
McAlpine – Laing Joint Venture
The joint venture company was tasked with completing the project as per the project requirement. Richard Rogers was the architect while the structural engineer was Buro Happold. The company and the architects and structural engineers had full responsibility and ownership for designing and completing the structure. All the stakeholders were well experienced and capable of handling the project. If they succeeded in creating the masterpiece, then they would be recognized as reputed designers and builders and would in all probability obtain more contracts in the future, besides having the satisfaction of completing an iconic project in time for the millennium. If they failed, then they would quickly lose their reputation (Bourn, 2000).
The area is also considered a stakeholder since it would benefit from the construction. The Greenwich Peninsula was barren, filled with dumped toxic waste, and was used as a dump. If the project was successfully implemented, then overnight, the area would appreciate in value and become a valuable piece of real estate for the government (Bourn, 2000).
Project management refers to the overall management of the structure, finance, logistics, and management of men and materials (Hartley, 2008). The dome was planned on a smaller size when John Major was the Prime Minister. It was supposed to be a world fair type of structure to celebrate the millennium. When Tony Blair came into power, he liked the concept and idea and increased the size of the structure along with the budget. The dome is the biggest of its kind and has twelve support towers that are 100 meters tall. Each of the towers is supposed to represent a month of the year or for each of the 12 hours in a watch. This was supposed to represent the GMT. The dome has a diameter of 365 meters, or the number of days in a year for each meter and the edges are scalloped. The canopy of the dome is made by using a weatherproof PTFE coated glass fiber cloth and the dome is 50 meters tall in the middle. The use of the cloth has made the structure very lightweight besides reducing the cost and speed of construction. Project management techniques that were used included project financing, critical path method with Gnat charts. Construction was performed in a phased manner with first draining the marshy areas and preparing the ground under the dome by laying a strong foundation. Towers were assembled and fabricated on-site and steel and other materials were brought to the site by road and by the river. By using lightweight material for the roof, the support structure would be subjected to far lesser loads and thus the complexities involved were much lesser. Since the roof was made of PTFE, construction cost was reduced by a huge margin, and the project was completed on time and at a much lesser cost than was budgeted (Bourn, 2000).
The project can be considered successful since the project was completed as per the deadline and there were no cost overruns. In fact, the project was completed at 4% of the estimated budget. Media people later made some harsh comments about the reduced number of visitors and that operating the dome was a financial loss. However, attracting visitors, increasing the marketing, future use of the dome, and financial viability of the project in the future, were not in the project objectives. Hence, this project is considered as successful.
The Port Adelaide Flower Farm, Australia – Failed Project
Projects are declared failed when they fail to meet their objectives and when the original intent of the project or a deviation does not happen. In many cases, projects fail due to poor visualization of the scope, risks, and implementation (Gray, 2008). The case of ‘The Port Adelaide Flower Farm’ is presented as an example of a failed project.
Introduction to the Project
The Port Adelaide Flower farm project – PAFF was approved by the South Australian Minister of Local Government at Port Adelaide for setting up a farm. The farm was to come upon the LeFevre Peninsula and was designed to grow native plants such as Geraldton Wax flowers and Kangaroo Paw and exporting the produce to Japan and Australia. Work commenced in September 1988 and due to financial losses and nonremunerative and viable methods, the project was closed in August 1995. If the project had become successful, then it would have created employment opportunities for people living in the areas besides boosting revenues (PAFF, 2007).
The project objectives were (PAFF, 2007):
- To start a farm to grow native Australian flowers that could be exported to Japan, Europe, and the USA. The farm was to be commercially viable.
- To undertake the socio-economical well-being of the people by providing them with a livelihood and means to earn money.
- To serve as a role model for the rest of the region and to encourage a similar project to come up.
Stakeholders involved in the project were (PAFF, 2007):
- IHM (Growers) Pty Ltd: This was the company that was tasked with running and operating the farm. If the farm proved successful, the IHF stood to gain a good reputation and recoup the investments in time and money that it had made (PAFF, 2007).
- Australian Minister of Local Government: This was the government body that had conceived the project and drawn the business plan. The area was suffering from recession and by starting the project, the government would be doing a social service to the region (PAFF, 2007).
The project is a classic case of lack of vision, lack of risk management, and poor planning. The business plan had omitted to go into the specifics of the nature of the flowers, market analysis, target customer preferences, rates, cost of growing and FOB rates, and even if the plants could be grown in the area. The whole project was conducted in a highly undisciplined manner without any phase-wise development plans or status of progress reports (PAFF, 2007).
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To begin with, the cut flower industry was relatively new in the region and no one was sure of the risks and scenarios that could occur in the future. The industry was regarded as a fledgling and there was no wide-scale implementation of such projects from which lessons could be learned. The business plan was based on a number of flawed presumptions and had depicted high returns of almost 175% over a five-year period. The plan played down the associated risks and many of the core risks were totally omitted. Reports that were submitted concentrated on the social objectives that were achieved and poor financial performance, lack of yield, whether such flowers could be grown in the region and marketed successfully, were all ignored. When financial figures fell far lower than expectations, the results were blamed due to poor weather or market conditions. There was no analysis of the soil suitability for the crops, level of watering required, procurements of seeds, and other technical issues. Hence the project failed and it had to be shut down.
Analysis of the two projects has provided the following conclusion:
- It is very important to visualize and plan for all types of risks- technical, financial, and logistics and prepare alternative plans.
- Detailed planning and work breakdown sector is very important.
- Scope and objectives of the project should be clearly specified. Having too many unrelated objectives and trying to achieve them would result in a failure.
- When making a business plan, it is important to consider all aspects such as technical and financial factors. There is no point in hiding facts or painting a good picture, as this would create problems later on.
Bourn John. 2000. The Millennium Dome: Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. House of Commons, UK.
Gray, C. and Larson, El. 2008.Project Management: The Managerial Process, International Edition. McGraw-Hill.
Hartley, S 2008, Project Management: Principles & Strategy; a competency-based approach, Pearson, Prentice Hall, Sydney.
Meredith, J and Mantel, S. 2006 Project Management: A Managerial Approach, Sixth Edition. Wiley.
PAFF, 2007. The Port Adelaide Flower Farm. 2009. Web.
Starkey. Stephen, 2002. Millennium Dome, England. [Online] Deepspace4. 2009. Web.