Apm-uk project management

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1.Introduction

According to APM-UK project management is defined as the procedure that includes planning, organizing and monitoring a project and the motivation of those involved in it in order to achieve the project's objectives in the time, cost and quality agreed on (N.J.Smith 2007).

This paper is divided in two sections. In the first section the analysis and evaluation of the main project management challenges involved during the construction of the Lee Valley Athletic centre are presented, as the groups investigated and presented them during the course. The approaches that were used in order to overcome those challenges are also mentioned. Moreover the management approach in the Lee Valley Athletic Centre will be compared with the established best practice in project management in relative size, importance and complexity projects. In the second section the guidelines for the 2012 Olympic Stadium will be developed, as well as the project management challenges in that project. Last but not least, the differences between a simple project (like the Lee Valley Stadium) and a more complex and greater value project (like the 2012 Olympic stadium) will be overviewed.

2. Lee Valley Athletic Centre

2.1Overview of the project

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During the project management module the twelve groups investigated the case of Lee Valley Athletic Centre. Lee Valley Athletic Centre is a new project that will be used as a part of the 2012 Olympic Games. The project had the following main characteristics:

  1. in the area that it would be located a 30 year old Sport Centre existed but already had been decided to be demolished
  2. the budget was fixed and the design and construction team had to make sure that they remained in it
  3. it is a significant project since it will be used as a part for the 2012 Olympic Games
  4. it is important that the facilities could and would be used before and after the Olympic Games not only from the athletes but from the locals as well
  5. time was not an issue
  6. innovative design
  7. early involvement of the engineers in the project

2.2. Evaluation of the main project management challenges and approaches

During the group work as mentioned above the groups spotted and presented the main project management challenges that the team had to confront. The following figure displays all the project management challenges that were underlined.

The most important among them was that the project had to be completed within budget and was mentioned from almost all the groups. In order to do that the design and build (turnkey) contract was used and since the design team focused on what the client required and at what cost, they got the design right the first time. As a consequence money and time were saved in terms of potential redesign issues, changes that would create problems because they are not facilitated by this type of contract were not needed (The design and build contract ties the client at an early stage (handbook 2009)). Furthermore the design and build contract type that was used allowed the determination of the contract cost at an early stage so that forward planning could be made in order to reduce the cost in some areas and not exceed the budget. The fact that all the parties were made aware of the budget constrains also contributed to the succession of that.

Although time was mentioned to be a challenge from some of the groups, time was not really an issue in this project but quality on the other hand certainly was. The project had to meet some quality standards since it is a sport centre that will be used as a part of the 2012 Olympic Games. The project team had time, so they made a good use of it in order to work on the designs and meet the required quality standards. Fortunately the standards were set on an early stage and also there was a quality management system (quality assurance consultant and specialized bodies) in place to monitor the progress and the quality throughout the construction of the project, at different stages until the completion of it. Moreover specialized subcontractors were used as to assure the best quality.

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One other important project management challenge that was again mentioned from many groups was that effective communication, coordination and teamwork had to be achieved. In projects like the Lee Valley Athletic Centre there are a lot of parties involved and in order to organize all those effectively a consultant was employed. He also had to oversee the basic design and the tender processes and make sure that there was a clear communication system among the members of the design team and the subcontractors as well. The contractor was involved in the detailed design at an early stage so there could have been frictions between him and the design team.

The site works had to be completed amongst various site constrains and that was a project management challenge and one of a technical nature as well. The contractor had to understand the critical issues on the site in order to produce the right design and solve the possible problems. The project was constructed close to a green belt area so there were environmental constrains, there were also poor ground conditions and the soil was possibly contaminated, so pile foundation was decided among other measures. The excavation materials had to remain on site and the right contract type had to be chosen after taking into consideration past experience of projects. By adopting the turnkey contract risks were transferred to the contractor and thus another challenge, the risk allocation, was managed. The design had to meet the client's objectives and had to be innovative too. A different orientation and elevation of the building was used in order to have a better use of natural daylight and that was moreover accordant to achieving sustainability in the design.

The legacy of the project was not mentioned by any group as a challenge while the team had to consider the impact that the project would have, especially in the community built. It is a project that has to be used before and after the Olympic Games from the community built in. In addition the health and safety that was mentioned is not a major challenge since it is something to be taken into consideration in any project.

2.3Comparison with established best practice in project management

The Lee Valley Athletic Centre was undoubtedly a successful project since it was completed within budget, in relatively short time and met the quality standards required. Despite the success of this project there were a few changes that could have been made with the intention of improving some factors.

For instance, what could have been done in addition would be to give more incentives to the contractors in order to keep them motivated. Meetings should also be held regularly so as to inform the members of the team of the progress and amplify the team spirit. The design and build package deal that was used contributed to reducing the cost of the project which was one of the biggest challenges that the project had to anticipate. The requirements were known and thus the cost could be set in an early stage. More advantages of the turnkey were that the "overall organization tended to be better" and "the operating requirements were dealt better" (N.J. Smith 2007). According to the presentations made by the groups some suggested that the management contracting should be used instead of the design and build. By that changes that are likely to occur in an innovative design would be more feasible. However turnkey seems to be a more suitable type for the particular project and worked effectively at the end. The quality was monitored all the time at different stages and that ensured that they were working towards the right direction. The team also dealt well with the site constrains but maybe a less innovative design should be considered in order to reduce the risks.

3. 2012 Olympic Stadium

3.1 Overview of the project

The new Olympic Stadium in London will be constructed in Stratford in an island area that is hemmed in on all sides. The ground conditions vary and there is heavy load of soil that will be abstracted from the area for the construction platform to be created. The access to the site is also limited, only a single road provides access to the construction area. The construction is scheduled to be completed in 2011 a year before the beginning of the Olympic Games so that test events can be hosted to check the Stadium's efficiency. In order to achieve that, the construction has started ahead. It is an innovative design (it will be the lightest structure for a stadium used for Olympic Games when it is completed) that includes 80.000 seats from which the 55.000 are demountable and will be abstracted after the end of the Olympic Games. The budget has already been almost doubled so they have to be very cautious as not to raise the budget any further (web links building, www.designbuild-network.com).

3.2 Differences between managing a single simple project and a project part of a large complex of work

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Managing multi projects cannot be considered as an aggregate of managing single projects as it is a far more wide procedure than that and any attempts that have been made to approach a multi project as a sum of single ones have been (most of them) unsuccessful. Management of multi projects requires a unique way of approach, techniques and tools (Nick G. Blismas et al. 2004). In comparison to the Lee Valley Athletic Centre the 2012 Olympic Stadium is a more complex stadium with higher profile (since the start and closure events will take place in it) and of a greater value so it demands to be approached in a different way than that of a single project.

A multi project like that of the Olympic Stadium has to be divided in smaller multiple projects in order to be managed better and minimize any uncertainties or risks that might occur in it. Risk has a broader span and is of greater value in projects that are part of a large, complex programme of works and has to be kept in an acceptable level. One of the reasons is that it might be more difficult to achieve the initial identification of the project's objectives and it cannot be planned in every detail. That means that the flexibility levels have to be higher in order the programme to be able to adjust to any changes that will inevitably at some point occur, so there must be contingency in the programme. The flexibility is also a great factor because the programme cannot afford any delays. Since there is a continuance of works, any delays in one project will also mean a negative interference with the works planned after that and as a consequence the delay of the whole programme. The fact that there is sometimes a repetition of some similar works might also involve risk that some works might not get the desired attention, because they are considered something that has been done before, of a repetitive nature and is something known.

Furthermore a programme of higher value and profile like the 2012 Olympic Stadium has to face more difficulties than a single project, because it involves greater structural complexity. By that, it means that there are a lot of specialized subcontractors that have to be selected at first, depending on their past experiences and then coordinated in a chaotic environment. The fact is that programmes have usually a geographical dispersion between the sites that make the management, the planning, the monitoring and the coordination of works even more difficult (Blismas et al. 2004). Structural complexity also involves the need of greater funds. That might create new problems since it is difficult to find and satisfy all the stakeholders of a programme. Whether they fund the programme or not they have demands that need to be fulfilled even if it is just virtually.

A good project manager will not necessarily become a good programme manager. In programme management the manager facilitates the interaction of numerous managers and has to prioritize and group the projects in order to achieve the maximum benefits and deliver the projects in their primary objectives standards concerning time, cost and quality (Sergio Pellegrinelli 1997).

3.3 Project management challenges and guidelines

In these section as stated in the introduction the main project management challenges of the 2012 Olympic Stadium will be analyzed and guidelines will be given in over to overcome those challenges and deliver the programme in the primary standards of cost, quality and time.

One of the main key project management challenges is choosing the right contract strategy and the right procurement route from the beginning of the project. Choosing the most suitable contract strategy is crucial since it has a major impact on the time scale of the project and on the ultimate cost (handbook 2009). In order to choose the best contract strategy it is advisable the promoter of the project to hire a project manager that will help on making a pivotal decision like that. Depending on the strategy adopted, the project might or might not meet its primary objectives, so that decision is probably one of the most important to be made in a project (N.J Smith 2007).

When considering the contractual options there are three major keys to be well thought-out: the relationships, the risks and the rules. Relationships might be highly structured or unstructured, permanent or temporary but all of them have to be managed in different ways. Risks are always present but the risk allocation between the contractors and the promoter might differ depending on the type of contract strategy. Rules are set in order the project to have a sound prospect of being completed successfully. The conflicting objectives time, cost and quality are also significant to be acknowledged (N.J Smith 2007).

In London 2012 Olympic Stadium the most suitable contract strategy seems to be that of management contracting. It is a project of high profile and value, so it is essential the promoter to be more involved in it, be able to define the objectives and participate in any crucial decisions that might need to be made during the construction of the project. Management contracting also increases the flexibility that a multi project like that will almost definitely require given that it involves an innovative design. This type of contract strategy is also time and cost saving which is beneficial in any project. It is suitable for multidisciplinary projects that include organizational complexity as well, like in this case, where there are a considerable number of contractors that have to be coordinated. Moreover another reason that it will be especially advantageous in the Olympic Stadium is because the project necessitates an early start, so as to be completed approximately a year earlier and host test events. One minor disadvantage though of management contracting is that it might expose the clients and stakeholders in greater risk than the design and build type (N.J. Smith 2007).

Thus we are transferred to the next major key challenge the risk which is always present in one form or another. There are many types of risks that can occur in a project and especially in a multi project that involves a greater amount of works and sub projects that interact. Risk is never possible to eliminate entirely but what the project management focuses on is to try to minimize it to an acceptable level. This deduction can occur firstly by recognizing the risks at the initial stage. That procedure is not an easy task particularly in multi projects where there are plenty of factors that can contribute to genesis of risks and are not easy to be spotted. After the detection of risks their influence has to be analyzed and procedures have to be planned in order to reduce their impact at a minimum level. If a risk management scheme exist it will be easier for the project to overcome the difficulties that might occur throughout its construction without affecting the primary objectives that it has.

What can also be done in order to decrease the risks in a multi project like the Olympic Stadium is to allocate the risk to the right teams and that is assured from the contract type. It has to be defined clearly in the contract which team is responsible for what. Choosing the right team that can handle risk and set the risk on that team is essential for the project's successful completion. If risk is set on a contractor for instance that is not able to control it, it can have disastrous results for the project even if the contractor is able to manage the work part competently (N.J. Smith 2007). In the Olympic Stadium the main contractor was chosen to be Team Stadium that has past experience in projects of greater complexity, value and higher profile and can use that experience in order to manage risks in the most suitable way. Using a team that has past experience will probably ensure that any risks that might occur they will be dealt and controlled in the most efficient way and by having the smallest possible effect primarily on time, cost and quality.

Management of stakeholders and communication in order to deliver the Olympic stadium in the desirable time, cost and quality criteria is a further key challenge. Stakeholders, whether they invest in the project or not, have several requirements that have to be tendered. Those requirements might contradict with the standards of quality, cost and time of the project and especially in a multi project like that where there are a great number of stakeholders involved in it with different demands and interests. For instance the stakeholders might insist on keeping the budget low thus implicating the desirable quality and time. The project management team might sometimes need to manipulate and flatter the stakeholders in order to keep the multi project on the right track (Sergio Pellegrinelli et al 2007). There has to be communication between the stakeholders, the design team and the contractors in order to set the goals and get the best possible result. Incentives can also be given to the contractors to promote their dedication to the project.

To achieve the required quality firstly the standards have to be set. In a multi project like the Olympic Stadium there are international standards already set. The right type of contract as mentioned above and the most appropriate and specialized contractors with past experience in similar projects have to be engaged, in order to assure high standards of quality. Then throughout the project's construction there has to be communication between the stakeholders, the design and construction team in order to monitor the progress and the quality. Continuous monitoring and assessments in completion of milestones will contribute to achieving the mandatory quality for a high profile project like that.

Cost is very difficult to be predicted particularly in a multi project where a great amount of risks are enclosed and it is usually the stakeholders' primary concern. Despite choosing the right contract the team is required not to make any overoptimistic estimations when it comes to cost. Definitely, it is essential to take into account the inflation rates and the cost of materials used that might change during the construction life cycle of the project and if necessary collect any additional data that will assist the team to make better predictions (Handbook 2009). There also has to be a programme concerning the cash flow of the project that both stakeholders and contractors will have agreed on. For instance it can be decided that they will use the bill of quantities and that payments will be made during completion of milestones. In the Olympic Stadium project they cannot afford to go further over budget for one additional reason, that they have already exceeded their initial budget (almost doubled). Consequently great attention is demanded.

Time is very important to the project as well. The Olympic Stadium has a goal to be completed a year ahead of the Olympic Games with the intention of hosting test events during that year and check its efficiency. Keeping that in mind any delays on the works will cause problems. So proper coordination and communication among the team members is crucial and regulations must comply. Moreover if the contractors are involved from the beginning of the project along with the stakeholders and the design team, it is easier to identify the risks that the project might have to face and make a plan in order not to let them have any negative effects in time issues. It is a project of great value and high profile that cannot afford for any reason not to be ready on time. The fact that there has been an early start of the project works beneficially for it.

Last but not least the design management is a key challenge in this project. There is a need for an innovative and sustainable design for the Olympic Stadium that creates complications both to the construction and the approval that the project receives from the public opinion. An innovative design is usually bound to criticism. It is a stadium with great legacy that will be used after the end of The Olympic Games mainly from the community that it is being located on. The design has to have the public approval given that it is going to receive major publicity during the Olympic Games and it also has to be useful and viable after the end of the Olympic Games without being too resourcefully demanding (web links www.london2012.com, www.news.bbc.co.uk, www.smh.com).

4. Conclusions

During this assignment we analyzed the main project management challenges of two projects the Lee Valley Athletic Centre and the London 2012 Olympic Stadium. The approaches used in the Lee Valley Athletic Centre were presented and were compared with the established best practice. In conclusion to that comparison the team could have made some slight changes to improve the project but in general everything worked out well and the project was delivered in the appropriate quality standards, within budget and on time.

The Lee Valley Athletic Centre is a single rather simple project while the Olympic Stadium is a more complex project of higher profile, greater value and large amount of works, so there are differences in the objectives of each. The different objectives entail different management approaches and those differences were studied and outlined in this assignment.

In the last part the main project management challenges of the Olympic Stadium were studied and guidelines were provided in order to face them. Some of the main challenges were the right choice of the contract strategy which was decided to be the management contracting, the risk management in order to allocate the risks to the appropriate team to manage them, the stakeholders' management as to deliver the project to the required standards of time, quality and time and lastly the design management. Since the project will be a great legacy to the community the design has to fulfill a double purpose. First it has to be innovative, creative and inspiring since it will receive a huge publicity during the Olympic Games but it also has to be viable for the use of the community after the end of the Olympic Games.

In conclusion project management can be used whether the study involves a single project or a multi project in order to achieve the best results in the cost, time, quality triangle. By applying the project management techniques it is easier for any project to overcome the challenges and deliver benefits that might not otherwise be possible.

Reference List

Nick G. Blismas, William D. Sher, Antony Thorpe and Andrew N.Baldwin, Factors influencing project delivery within construction client's multi-projects environments, Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 2004,11,2, ABI/INFORM Global pg.113

Engineering project management handbook, Notes for the Project management module 2009

Sergio Pellegrinelli, Programme management: organizing project-based change, International Journal of Project Management, Vol.15, No.3, pp141-149, 1997

Sergio Pellegrinelli, David Partington, Chris Hemingway, Zaher Mohdzain, Mahmood Shah, The importance of context in programme management: an empirical review of programme practices, International Journal of Project Management, 25, 41-45, 2007

N.J. Smith (2007)"Engineering Project Management" Third edition, Blackwell Publishing, 2007

Web links:

http://www.prader-willi-syndrome.co.uk/uni%20leeds.gif viewed 30/10/2009

Olympic Stadium http://venues.london-2012.co.uk/Olympic-Stadium/ viewed 30/10/2009

Double boost for Lee Valley http://www.uksport.gov.uk/news/248/ viewed 30/10/2009

Lee Valley Athletics Centre http://www.leevalleypark.org.uk/en/content/cms/leisure/activities_and_sport/athletics_centre/athletics_centre.aspx viewed 30/10/2009

Lee Valley DEC http://www.maxfordham.com/news.php?id=68 viewed 30/10/2009

Building, on your marks: Countdown to 2012, London's Olympic stadium http://www.building.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=583&storycode=3121620&c=0 viewed 4/11/2009

New era of stadium design begins with Olympic Stadium, 7 November 2007 http://www.london2012.com/news/media-releases/2007/2007-11/new-era-of-stadium-design-begins-with-olympic-stadium.php viewed 5/11/2009

London unveils 2012 stadium plan http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/7081346.stm viewed 4/11/2009

London Olympic stadium divides opinion http://www.smh.com.au/news/World/London-Olympic-stadium-divides-opinion/2007/11/08/1194329412685.html viewed 4/11/2009

London 2012 Olympic Stadium, United Kingdom http://www.designbuild-network.com/projects/2012-olympic-stadium/ viewed 4/11/2009

Cover Figures: Web link: http://www.prader-willi-syndrome.co.uk/uni%20leeds.gif viewed 30/10/2009

Double boost for Lee Valley http://www.uksport.gov.uk/news/248/ viewed 30/10/2009

Olympic Stadium http://venues.london-2012.co.uk/Olympic-Stadium/ viewed 30/10/2009

Figure 1: web link:

Lee Valley Athletics Centre http://www.leevalleypark.org.uk/en/content/cms/leisure/activities_and_sport/athletics_centre/athletics_centre.aspx viewed 30/10/2009

Figure 3: web link: Lee Valley DEC http://www.maxfordham.com/news.php?id=68 viewed 30/10/2009

Figure 4: building, on your marks: Countdown to 2012, London's Olympic stadium web link http://www.building.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=583&storycode=3121620&c=0 viewed on 4/11/2009