Copyright to Pat Weaver © 2014
Published here January 2015.

Editor's Note | A Brief Synopsis of the Building 
The Great Exhibition | Governing and Controlling the Construction
Risk, Quality and Cost Control | Conclusion | Case Study Assignment


The reports of the Royal Commissioners show a very fine appreciation of governance. The objective of governance defined by Sir Adrian Cadbury some 150 years after the Crystal Palace was built and the Great Exhibition staged is to "holding the balance between economic and social goals and between individual and communal goals. The governance framework is there to encourage the efficient use of resources and equally to require accountability for the stewardship of those resources".[6] This defines governance as a pragmatic process focused on outcomes, not the blind imposition of undue process.

The Royal Commissioners demonstrably achieved those objectives by ensuring adequate compensation to the builder and ensuring the preservation of the Crystal Palace despite Parliament voting against retaining it in its original location. Flexibility was shown when needed allowing work to start months ahead of the contract signing which in turn allowed the exhibition to open on time but financial and quality controls were strict and effective.

Additionally, the results of the building contract strongly suggest the project was effectively controlled and managed. But unfortunately whilst there are tantalizing glimpses of sophisticated systems that could effectively manage extended off-site supply chains, large workforces and mechanized production; whilst dealing with the small tolerances allowed in modular cast iron, none of these have been preserved in the records of the Royal Commissioners. This is probably understandable given the Commissioners were the customer, not the builder and they had the overall responsibility of staging a massive event but it is disappointing.

The primary objective of my research4 was to identify the processes used by Fox, Henderson and Co to sequence, schedule, organize and manage the construction of a very large building in a remarkably short timeframe, with particular emphasis on time management. These records were not found and consequently, we still don't really know or understand how the major construction works of the 18th and early 19th century was managed.[7]

Risk, Quality and Cost Control  Risk, Quality and Cost Control

6. For more on governance see:
7. This paper is one of a series looking at the history of project management and project controls. The research was focused on filling the gap in knowledge of project controls during the industrial revolution. For more on the development of the concepts supporting the creation and use of bar charts see:
For more on the development of scheduling in the 20th century see:
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