We often hear about major project disasters – projects that have over-run on budget or schedule, or both, with some, such as the Montreal Olympic Stadium, over budget by a staggering 1990% and the Sydney Opera House completed more than 9 years past it’s deadline.
Of course some of these project “disasters” turn out to be national or international achievements in the long term so it is not always easy to judge the success of a project immediately after it has been completed. The Hubble Space Telescope was 500% over-budget and nearly 9 years overdue but is still in use 14 years after it was first launched into orbit and it’s observations have led to many scientific breakthroughs.
Nevertheless, it is nice to hear some good news on the project management front when a project is still underway, especially when it is closer to home. Such is the case with the new Forth Crossing in Scotland, especially when Scotland has had its share of major project disasters, such as the Scottish Parliament Building (935% over budget) and the Edinburgh tram project management disaster, which was 167% over budget and doesn’t even serve many parts of the city.
Back in 2013, members of the Scottish Parliament passed a bill to establish a new operating company to manage the construction of the new crossing over the Firth of Forth (as well as managing the existing Forth Bridge), which began in June 2011. The old Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) was dissolved and staff were transferred to the new company whilst functions and assets were transferred to the Scottish Parliament in order to enable the tender process to go ahead.
This turns out to have been a forward thinking step that led to a robust tendering process and improvement in services that has resulted in the Forth Bridge replacement crossing project expected to be £50 million under budget (yes under budget, as I said it was good news). The reduced budget is attributed to successful project management and good market conditions.
Following a public consultation to find a name for the new crossing it is now known as the Queensferry Crossing and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
So it’s not all bad news in the project management world, maybe we just tend to report the disasters and not focus on the successes as much as we should.