Published here August 2010

Note: The Issues for Discussion at the end of this case study may require research on the Internet.

Introduction | Project Evolution | Project Concept
Planning and Organization | Design Timelines | Construction | Project Cost
Project Progress Report, March 1st 2005 | Commentary | Issues for Discussion

Planning and Organization

There are many lessons to be learned from the project, perhaps the most important of which is the institution of sound project management practices from the outset. While the result was an interesting and useful building, the project to create it was a dismal saga with the project running more than ten times over the original budget estimate and five years behind schedule.

According to the Auditor General's report of September 2000, the recommended organizational setup for a project of this type and size should be as shown in Figure 5 and the overall project team broadly reflected this good practice. Also, the Scottish Office established a project steering group with senior management representation at an early stage (August 1997), consistent with the Treasury model. They appointed a project team with a mix of relevant skills and knowledge and there was a clear assignment of responsibilities at the outset within the team.

Figure 5: Recommended project organization for construction/procurement management
Figure 5: Recommended project organization for construction/procurement management[8]

The Auditor General reported that there were clear communication channels between the project team and other officials planning wider aspects of the operation of the new Parliament, so that the expected user requirements could be conveyed to the building project team.

HM Treasury's procurement guidelines indicate that good practice in construction procurement requires the client to establish:

  • A project team with sufficient skills, knowledge and resources to match the expected demands of the project
  • A clear chain of command, to provide the basis for decision making and accountability
  • Satisfactory arrangements for project appraisal and monitoring, including budgetary control.

Figure 6 shows the roles and responsibilities of the key players shown in Figure 5 above.

Figure 6: Recommended roles and responsibilities of the key players
Figure 6: Recommended roles and responsibilities of the key players[9]

In fact, the project's project management had a mixture of relevant experience and skills. The successive project owners and the project sponsor were senior experienced administrative civil servants. The project sponsor could draw on advice from the Chief Architect and Head of the Building Directorate in the Scottish Office (later the Chief Architect in the Scottish Executive) and his staff, particularly on professional matters. The successive project managers were appointed on the basis of their significant previous experience in the specialist area of project management.

However, the Auditor General questioned whether project management provided the best possible combination of skills taking into account the unique nature of this project. Construction management leaves considerable risks with the client rather than the contractor and is complex to manage. The project management must therefore include professionals with expertise in construction.

Project Concept  Project Concept

8. AG's Report, 2000, p30
9. AG's Report, 2000, p31
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