T5 Vs Wembley What Can We Learn?

Paul Naybour

Date: 14/01/2010
Event organiser: APM Midlands Branch
Time: 6.15 for 6.30pm start – Refreshments provided
Venue: Holiday Inn Notts Derby, M1, Jct 25, Bostocks Lane, Sandiacre, Nottingham, NG10 5NJ
Presented by: Paul Naybour – Director of Parallel Project Training
Heathrow Terminal 5 and Wembley Stadium are two high profile projects, each of which, for different reasons is perceived as less than successful by the public. With London 2012 just around the corner, what can the profession learn from these two very different case studies?
Critical questions raised by these projects are:
How should we measure project success?

  • What is a project?
  • Are partnership approaches to project worth the effort?
  • How should clients control projects?
  • How can we manage public expectations?
  • Are all project destined to failure?
  • Outcomes

The workshop reached the following conclusions:
How should we measure project success?
Whilst project success is primarily measured by delivery to time cost and quality the real measure of success is if the customer would ask you back to manage another project.
What is a project and where is the boundary to operations?
The handover between project and operations needs to be managed with extreme care. The project is not really over until the asset is operating successfully for the customer. Project management of the interfaces between work packages within the project and between the project and the outside world is vital. Successful identification and management of these interfaces is a critical success factor in many cases.
How should clients control projects?
The case studies demonstrate the importance of an intelligent client. This is a real challenge for organisations that only manage projects infrequently. It highlights the importance of clients getting good advice from the start. Although many organisations are unwilling to pay for this advice until it is too late, failure to do so can end up with massive legal bills.
How can we manage public expectations?
Many projects proactively manage the media by not publishing an opening date or being conservative in the public promises that they make. Having a publicly committed schedule and an internal accelerated programme is one way to create a project buffer. As inevitably things will slip and the management of the press becomes more difficult once delays begin to emerge. It is interesting that the significant increases in cost for 2012 Olympics were announced at a very early stage. This got the bad news (which everyone expected) out of the way early so that the project could move on to manage project delivery and report progress without a constant drip of bad news as the costs gradually increased.
Are all project destined to failure?
This created quite a bit of debate, as project managers want to feel that they can deliver successful projects despite the biases introduced to get them funded in the first place. By reducing the complexity in projects the group felt that successful projects could be delivered, but this may need some significant changes in project strategy.
Are partnership approaches to project worth the effort?
Partnership approaches are not the panacea for project success; they can be valuable when the partners have a vested interest in making the partnership work, because of significant follow on work or financial return to both parties. However in many projects which are one-off they can be more effort than the return.

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