Project management is one of the most diverse and important professionals in the world. It is the task of project managers to ensure that there is timely and efficient delivery of projects, from minor to major. These professionals are responsible for coordinating the different tasks and ensuring that the final outcome is realized with minimal financial constraints and within the outlined timeline. As such, there is a likelihood that inefficiency in project management can lead to failure of a project in terms of expenses, the timeframe and even on the management structure.
Nevertheless, the report presented is about one of the major landmarks in Sydney: the Sydney opera house. Regardless of its iconic nature and being one of the best recognized buildings in Australis, the eventual structure represents a failure in project management. The truth of the matter if that the project resulted into cost overruns as well as lateness in the delivery. As a matter of fact, some people have recognized the Sydney opera house as one of the most disastrous projects both on the management planning and execution as well as the financial perspective. In essence, the report tries to identify why the project was a failure and a lesson to be learnt by most project management teams
The Sydney opera house not only represents magnificence in terms of architecture, it also represents outstanding resilience in the whole construction planning and management. The building was designed by Jorn Utzon, an architecture from Denmark in 1957. The New South Wales government had requested individuals to come out with architectural designs for a new building and it was Utzon’s design that was most attractive. Nevertheless, construction started in the year 1959, two years after the design, and was set to be completed in 1963, at an estimated budget of around AUS $ 7 million.However,the building was completed in the year 1973, 10 years late, at a price tag of AUS $ 102 million. In essence, the project resulted into cost overruns of about 1000%.
The purpose of the construction of the building was to establish a center for orchestral and opera music performances in Sydney. Prior to its construction, such events were held in the town hall. Though the town hall served the purpose, it did not have an area that is adequate for the delivery of the shows. However, the need of a bigger avenue was only recognized by Eugene Gossesns in 1947.He had been appointed as Sydney Symphony orchestra Chief executive. However, It was in 1957, 7 years later, that the competition for the best design was outlined by the New south wales Government.
Currently, the building hosts some of the most significant events in Australia, and in the world. The avenues present hold a combined total of about 1500 annual performances. These performances usually draw the attendance of about 1.2 million people from all over the globe. Nevertheless, it also represents the heritage of UNESCO, a honor bestowed to the building in the year 2007. Moreover, it ensured that John Utzon was the winner of the Pritzker award in 2003 .because of his outstanding architectural designs. As such, it can be a learning point for many project managers and stakeholders.
The project was made up of two main stakeholders. The first stakeholder was the architect, Utzon. However, rather than being too much concerned with the time and the cost of the project, Utzon was very much concerned about the design aspect of the project. As such, Utzon collaborated with Arup, the man in charge of the engineering as well as the structural aspect of the project. Moreover, there were small teams which were in charge of the other building aspects such as ventilation, heating, mechanics and lighting among others. As such. Project management was achieved through the collaborative effort of the two.
The New South Wales government is the other stakeholder in the project. However, this was just a part of the Australian government who had initiated the design competition. Considering the humongous nature of the project, the government created a committee that was responsible for supervising the project. However, the team created was not knowledge on the technical nature of the project. The team is one of the major causes of project overruns in the project.
Finally, the public formed the last project shareholder. Although indirectly, they were concerned with the progress of the project since it was going to affect their lifestyles. As such, they formed the labor force and the consultants of various issues likely to affect the project.
The project progress is determined by stakeholder decisions and as such, they may be the major cause of the problems associated with the Sydney opera house. However, there are numerous minute details that the cost overruns and delay can be attributed to. These constraints can be attributed to the country as well as the building itself.
The Causes of the project failure
To begin with, there was a problem in the project initiation. As with all construction projects, it is imperative that the design is completed prior to the start of the construction. John Utzon had not completed the design of various aspects of the building when the government initiated the construction process. Nevertheless, the building was made up of three aspects: the podium, the stage and the outer shells. This was an aspect of improper planning and coordination between the government and the other stakeholders. Much more id the fact that the government would later on change the requirements of the design. The initial design was that of two theaters but the government requested for an additional two theater. As such, the construction and design had to be improvised during the actual construction process.
Moreover, all the project constraints were not given equal weight during the project initiation stages. The three factors that should be clearly identified during the beginning are the time, quality and the cost. These are usually indicated by the client but this was not done by the New South Wales government. Based on this, all the architects were given the weight measurement of the quality but no weighting on the time or cost. As such, all the designs submitted to the panel did not consider the length that the project would require or the amount of money that would be involved.
During these initiation stages there were various issues around the communication plans. Prior to initiation of the project, the team had not managed to set up a proper communication policy or management plan. In essence, there was difficulty in communication between the different project team. As a matter of fact, John did not engage in frequent communication with the engineering teams. He worked all by himself and was focused on the various building solutions, without engaging any other stakeholder. Miscommunication resulted into frustrations among the engineering teams and more so, resulted into a delay of various execution project phases. The fact that John refused to install communication equipment in the building structure during the construction phases is something questionable. In essence, there was no cooperation among the engineering teams and John Utzon which resulted into frustration as well as delays.
Moreover, the initiation stages were based on incomplete project estimates. The total budget for the project had been based on incomplete research and surveys. The design and the site surveys were incomplete but regardless, the team used them to estimate the total budget of the building. In essence, after completion of the first stage, there were additional cost overruns due to the claims by the contractors. It is estimated that this resulted to an overrun of about AUS $1.2 million in the year 1962. As a matter of fact, the cost of the project, as per the completed stages, was AUS $ 5.2 million in the year 1963. Nevertheless, the first stage of the project resulted to a time delay of about 47 weeks.
However, it is important to understand that this was one of a kind project. The project represented a whole new dimension during the design and construction stages. No other project had faced such creativity, scope, challenges, and even scope. In essence, there was difficulty in estimating various aspects of the building such as the likely cost, the difficulty in construction among other factors. As a ,matter of fact, there was no reference point during the building construction and design., The common buildings are usually in line because the construction methodology has been tested and resulted into successful project completion
The change in government structure is another factor that needs to be considered in any project. As the Sydney opera house was under construction, there was an election in New South Wales which resulted to a change in the government. This change resulted to a whole new group of officials who initially did not approve the continuation of the project. However, they later on approved but did this on a reluctant note. It is regarded as the most controversial stage of the project because there were numerous cost overruns. As a matter of fact, there was no visible change in the progress of the project. Considering it is the second stage of the project, the new government requested for the costs accrued during the first stage. The total costs of the first stage of the project were AUS $ 12.5 million. This prompted the government to monitor all the transactions done under the opera house. Later on, the government did not complete all the payments because of the inefficient nature of Utzon and the slow progress. In essence, John Utzon resigned in the year 1966 citing the interference by the government and the payment restrictions.
The second stage was completed in the year 1967. After John Utzon had resigned, he was sure that the government would recall him to work since he assumed that failure was imminent.. As such, he had taken away all the blueprint, drawings, sketches and designs of the building. The new team, composed of three engineers from Australia, was forced to draft new designs, sketches, drawings and blueprints based on the current structure. This process was very complicated and there were numerous constraints and complications. The total cost of these changed resulted into a burgeoning of the initial costs by about four times. The costs estimated by Utzon was a quarter of the AUS $ 85 million that the government agreed to pay out.
The control systems of the project
Success or failure of a project is dependent on the control system that is used. As such, it is usually the responsibility of the project managers to design a project plan that is deliverable through the application of proper control plans. Nevertheless, the project control plan is usually part of the management tools that are used throhpout the project. As such, they are an important aspect of the effort put by the project manager in achieving the deliverables of the project. As a matter of fact, if the Sydney opera house project had employed the proper control structures, failure would have been reduced by about 15% (Brown , 2015)
The list of structures that went into over budgetary exposure are numerous. According to Podio, a project management tool, the Sydney Opera house is number 2 on the list. The international space station tops the chart with an over budget of $ 68.25 billion. Nevertheless, the Sydney opera house resulted to an over budget of $ 70 million which would eventually cause the resignation of John Utzon.
In definition, the cost control of a project refers to the aspect of managing the project. This is in terms of the budget, the actual cost and the forecasting. In essence, the cost control of the project is usually dependent on various project variables such as delegation, control of the duties and a reduction in time wasted. However, these systems were not properly implemented in the Sydney opera house project.
John Utzon refused to work closely with the other teams of engineers which presented a major bottleneck in the rate of progress of the job. However, this can be attributed to the fact that there was no proper communication process throughout the project. Failure of communication resulted to a delay in achieving the project deliverables which resulted into higher project costs.
Moreover, improper design and implementation strategies, associated with delegation of duties, were not properly executed. Proper design and implementation were caused a major strain in the budgetary allocation. The first instance was during the initial stage where the government ordered the construction works, even though the design aspects were not complete. In essence, there were unbudgeted costs involved in the redesign and design during the actual construction process.
The failure of the government to take into consideration the expertise opinion of john Utson resulted into a fourfold cost of the second phase. Against a budget of $ 85 million, he resigned from the project citing interference with his creative nature. The resignation further meant that the teams had to work with their own blueprints which resulted into cost overruns and delays in the execurion.