Case Study
June 6, 2021
Case studies
June 6, 2021

SPECIAL DEMANDS ON THE PROJECT MANAGER

A number of demands are unique to the management of projects,
and the success of the PM depends to a large extent on how capably they are
handled. These special demands can be categorized under the following
headings. 

Acquiring Adequate Resources

It was noted earlier that the resources initially budgeted for a
project are frequently insufficient to the task. In part, this is due to the
natural optimism of the project proposers about how much can be accomplished
with relatively few resources. Sometimes, it is caused by a deliberate,
unethical understatement of resource requirements to ensure that a project is
accepted for funding. At times it is caused by the great uncertainty associated
with a project. Many details of resource purchase and usage are deferred until
the project manager knows specifically what resources will be required and
when. For instance, there is no point in purchasing a centrifuge now if in nine
months we will know exactly what type of centrifuge will be most useful. 

The good PM knows there are resource trade-offs that need to be
taken into consideration. A skilled machinist can make do with unsophisticated
machinery to construct needed parts, but a beginning machinist cannot.
Subcontracting can make up for an inadequate number of computer programmers,
but subcontractors will have to be carefully instructed in the needs of the
contractor, which is costly and may cause delays. Crises occur that require
special resources not usually provided to the project manager. 

All these problems produce glitches in the otherwise smooth
progress of the project. To deal with these glitches, the PM must scramble,
elicit ajd, work late, wheedle, threaten, or do whatever seems necessary to
keep the project on schedule. On occasion, the additional required resources simply
alter the project’s cost-benefit ratio to the point that the project is no
longer cost-effective. Obviously, the PM attempts to avoid these situations,
but some of what happens is beyond the PM’s control. 

Case #1-  Turning
London’s Waste Dump into the 2012 Olympics Stadium

Back in 2006, the 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) chose a
river-surrounded, 1-square-mile East London disposal site loaded with discarded
appliances, tops of waste, shanties, and soil polluted with petrol, oil, lead,
tar, and arsenic as the site for their 2012 Olympic Stadium to seat 80,000
visitors. To meet a mid-2011 completion due date, the ODA project manager lan
Crockford quickly assembled a project team of over 1000, including governmental
employees and other stakeholders, such as the London Development Agency as
landowner, politicians, utility firms, community councils, miscellaneous local
governmental groups, and of course, the athletes, all of whom wanted a voice in
the site design. To clean up the site, the team created a “Soil
Hospital” on-site with 60 scientists and technicians who processed and
cleaned 800,000 tons of soil. To use the surrounding river for transporting
equipment and materials to the site, others on the team dredged 30,000 tons of
silt, gravel, garbage, and one car from 2.2 kilometers of the river, which
hadn’t seen commercial use in over 35 years. 

When they were ready to design the stadium, they referred
to plans and schedules for London’s 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium (but that took
10 years to build) and Sydney’s 2000 Olympics 80,000-seat stadium (but that
would have stretched halfway across the surrounding rivers on the London site).
Moreover, the scope for this stadium was that 25,000 seats would be permanent
but the other 55,000 would be temporary, built solely for the 2012 Olympics. To
respond, the design team planned a highly-compact field of play that was
acceptable to everyone, including the athletes. Construction started in May
2008 with the pouring of concrete, but soon they found that the steel-beamed
roof as designed would create turbulence on the compact field. The team redesigned
a lighter, more flexible roof made, in part, with 52 tons of scrap metal from
old keys, knives, and guns confiscated by the London police, fitting with the
ODA’s goals of using recycled materials. The entire stadium uses only
one-quarter the amount of steel used in the 2008 Olympic stadium in Beijing.
Construction was completed by the mid-2011 deadline at a price of £486 million,
£51 million under budget. 

Questions:

  1. What shape of life cycle did this stadium
    project have? Compare it with the life cycle of the river dredging portion
    of the effort. Compare it also with the Olympic Torch Relay project
    described earlier.
  2. Which of the “triple constraints”
    seems to be uppermost here? Which constraints was Crockford trading between?
  3. Were there any ancillary goals for this
    project
    What might they have been?

 Source: J.
Danko, “Serious Conditioning,” PM Networks, Vol
24. 

 

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