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Project Management Of The Emirates Stadium Construction Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 5065 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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A lot has been documented on the principals and methodologies required to successfully execute a project, that it almost seems a Cliché when the term project management is discussed. However, I shall try to focus on project management in the construction industries as it is a good idea to discuss project management as it applies to a specific industry.

In this two part report, I shall attempt to first critically analyse and evaluate the PM challenges as documented in the group presentations, with the aim of;

Critically evaluating the management challenges identified and highlighting how the groups dealt with identifying the challenges and frameworks adopted in explaining these challenges.

Evaluating the procurement strategy adopted and considering reasons for its adoptions, benefits derived and circumstances contributing to its success, before considering alternative approaches.

Make a comparison between the management strategy adopted for the emirate stadium and established best practices.


Arsenal football club had previously occupied the Highbury stadium. With a capacity to hold 35,000 fans, this was grossly inadequate for a club increasing in fan base due to her popularity and successes achieved in competition with other top flight clubs in the premiership. Therefore the club management decided to invest in a larger stadium as a means of accommodating the increasing fan population but more strategically, rebranding the club and increasing its competitiveness with top flight clubs at the premiership.


Hence, a design and built contract was signed by Sir Robert Alpine for a £220m worth 60,000 capacity stadium facility, after an intense planning and conception stage spanning 5 years. The entire project cost was estimated at £400m including related projects due to relocation works and ancillary works. (Designbuild-network.com, 2008)

The actual construction commenced March 2004 and was completed by July 2006 ahead of schedule and on budget. At the end of the entire project, 80 businesses had been relocated, 2500 new homes had been provided, 2600 new jobs and 4 new community health facilities built. A successful project with regards to its achievement of project objectives at the stipulated time frame, within the estimated budget and to the quality and performance required. (Arsenal, 2007)

But like all projects, risks, challenges and uncertainties are sure to abound, the outcome of the project however, will depends on the identification and mitigations of these risks and uncertainties plus the application of management strategies and tools.


So let's look at the challenges identified, one key observation from a critical assessment of the group challenges identified was the frequent repetition of similar challenges expressed in different words, mainly due to varying dictions of expressions. Classification of these challenges was therefore necessary to critically evaluate and analyse them.

Some groups adopted a framework to identify the challenges. Groups 3 and 4 in particular, identified the challenges using the project life cycle framework. On the other hand, groups 1, 2 and 5 viewed the challenges by broadly looking at individual elements of the project's strategic management and operational stages as viewed by the contractor during the implementation of the project.

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For groups adopting the project life cycle framework, the task of identifying key challenges was best viewed by considering each phase of the lifecycle. The initiation and planning stages in particular, required critical risks assessments before the implementation phase because of the ease to adjust plans and mitigate risks at these initial phases. They effectively pointed out that, due to the attention paid to issues such as collaboration, client management, extensive site investigation and a constant assessment of uncertainties, a smooth implementation stage ensued.

Presentations for group 1, 2 and 5 as mentioned earlier, broadly looking at individual management strategies of the project implementation and operational stages as viewed by the contractor during the implementation of the project and can be broadly categorised under the following;

Strategic Management challenges: client satisfaction, stakeholder impact and project coordination. By identifying the need to manage people, risks, strategy adopted budgetary issues and contracts details, these presentations focused primarily on organisational elements of the project with emphasis on the construction management aspects.

Operational/Design and Construction Challenges: Although project management challenge was the main focus, it seems illogical not to consider certain technical issues as major challenges. Therefore key engineering challenges such as restrictions in stadium height (a local planning authority directive), pitch quality, service fitting and the need for access bridges to the stadium were challenges that shaped most decisions taken by the project managers.

Table 2.1 Categorisation of Identified Challenges







Scope and Specification, Identifying stakeholders, Deciding Location, Planning Business and home Relocations,

3 &4


Reaching and securing Authority Approval, Satisfying Stakeholder and client expectation, Procurement Strategy Selection. Risk Management


Design and Technical Challenges, Risk Mitigation, Traffic control, Community involvement,


Testing and commissioning Challenges, Client Satisfaction



Procurement Strategy, Document Management, Timing and Scheduling, Stakeholder and Client management, Team work and Coordination, Defining Scope, Communication, Cash flow and Budget Control.

1, 2 &5


Pitch Quality, Roof design, Construction Technique, Weather, Geotechnical, height restraints, Relocation and details, Pedestrian Bridges, Choice of Material

The table above show the key project management challenges identified and categorised under management frameworks as adopted by the groups.


All groups identified the adopted procurement strategy as the design and build or turnkey approach however, the common opinion was that adopting a management contract procurement approach would have proved equally successful. To critically evaluate the management approach and understand the reasons for its adoption and factors aiding its successful utilization, a brief description of these two procurement approaches would be reviewed.

Design and Build: one contractor is employed to design, manage and construct the project. Although mostly taking a variety of forms, the contractor's roles may include the following;

As principal contractor who carries out all design and construction, with minor subcontractors.

As the client's agent, managing the consultants and contractors who carry out the actual design.

A combination of principal contractor for design or construction, and management contractor for the other functions. ( F. Harrison and D. Lock, 2004)

So why was this adopted? To a greater extent, it provided the client (Arsenal FC) the following advantages;

Time/ contract duration could be shortened and facility ready for start of the new season

Exempted the client from the technicalities of building a stadium. They were club managers who knew nothing about building a stadium but recognized the importance of the facility in meeting their business goal.

Protected the client from the complexities in project organisation.

Enable the client to transfer most risks identified in the conception stage.

In this case study, Sir Robert Alpine was the designated design and build contractor, together with her supply chain which included Architects HOK Sports venue, Bur Happold (the structural, Mechanical and electrical engineers) and AYH PLC (Project Managers/Quantity Surveyors).


The alternative, management contracting approach as recommended by all, is characterised by the client appointing an external organisation to manage and coordinate the delivery of the project. The main advantages to the client in the case study would have been benefits from time and cost savings and better flexibility with regards to changes. Thereby, allowing the client to concentrate on dealing with sponsorship deals, investors and the large number of stakeholders.


The main success criterion of a construction project is the value of the facility to the client over time. Successful delivery requires an integrated process in which design, construction, operations and maintenance are considered as a whole, together with an understanding of how the project will affect efficiency and service delivery over the lifetime of the project. (OGC, 2009)

So whatever they are called, best practices, golden rules or PM creeds, the general believe is, following these techniques summaries in figure 2.2 below will effectively manage a project to time, cost, quality and performance. The office of Government commerce therefore set out guidance to achieving excellence in construction project management. In their opinion success is guaranteed if projects are planned to ensure they possess the following;

Projects provide the best option to meet the business need

Have sufficient resources allocated to deliver the project and effectively manage these resources.

Are managed through defined and accepted accountabilities, supported by clear and short reporting lines which ensure effective channels of communication between stakeholders, clients and project Implementation team

Have a clear commitment throughout the integrated project team to clearly defined objectives. (OGC, 2009)

I shall endeavour to compare the management approach as adopted in this case study with the recommended and prescribed best practices as stated by the office of Government Commerce.

The OGC recommends that resources, roles and responsibilities for delivery should be assigned to effective individuals who are empowered to deliver, who are drawn from the business unit that owns the project.

The OGC further stated, 'Critical consideration needs to be paid to ensuring effective lines of communication'. The effectiveness of the lines of communication to top level management, who are then responsible for making decisions based on these information provided. Successful delivery requires an integrated process in which design, construction, operation and maintenance are considered as a whole. (OGC, 2007)

Health and safety performance during all phases of the project is mandatory. There are also legal requirements which require clients to set requirements for healthy, safe working conditions and facilities on construction sites. (OGC, 2007)

Amongst the OGC's best practice recommendations, is the selection of the right people for the project team. They stated that the selection of an integrated project team is a paramount consideration in project planning. The best projects and the best clients put time into getting the right project team. They assess the quality of the individuals, their ability to work together and their experience. For the emirate stadium case study, the design and build contractor commented after the project completion (SRM, 2009) '[a] textbook example of project management and team building, Emirates Stadium showcases the benefits our collaborative approach to business can bring. Our early involvement and that of our key supply chain partners was an essential element in the project's success.

Risk assessment and value management should be continually assessed throughout a project's lifecycle. With early collaboration between the entire integrated project team, risks are better identified and resolved before risk mitigations become too expensive to implement. (OGC, 2007)

The adoption of the lowest price tendered does not often lead to best value for money. Quality and costs of the implemented projected over the life of the asset are the real indicators of value for money. The focus should always be the optimum balance of required quality and the whole-life costs of a facility - the costs of acquiring it, the costs of maintaining it and the costs of operating it over the whole life of the asset to its disposal. (OGC, 2007)

Judges at the awards for the 'building project of the year' stated, 'The whole process was an example of how important teamwork should be to a project, with everyone from the client to the contractor and subcontractors coming together and working successfully to ensure the project was completed on time and under budget. The way that this team tackled design changes should be a lesson to the industry'. (Martin Spring, 2007)

In summary, the emirate stadium project highlighted in context and principle, is an exemplary addition to best practice adoption and utilization in stadium construction, of course with certain modification as best fits the project in question.


For example, collaboration during the planning and design stage, formulating and communicating set milestones to the project team, feed backs and managing the client's expectation in view of the outcomes provided. Figure 2.3 show as weights, the management strategy adopted in relation to a summarised best practice.



For this part of the report, I shall attempt to develop guidelines for the 2012 Olympic by firstly;

Discussing the differences between managing a single project and managing a project as part of a larger portfolio or programme.

Review current facts about the on-going 2012 Olympic stadium construction that will further assist to pinpoint and discuss project management challenges.

And then finally, based on the characteristics of the project identified, lessons learnt and a review of the best practices, develop guidelines for the project.


In July 2005 the International Olympic Committee awarded the city of London the hosting rights for the 2012 Olympic Games. With the establishment of this immovable deadline, the London organising committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG), aware of the heights of expectations, particularly after the ingenuity displayed by the Chinese, began plans in earnest. Milestones were set, plans conceived and a programme to regenerate London in preparation for the games was hatched. The entire programme included amongst others, the redevelopment of a 24 hectare Olympic park to accommodate an Olympic stadium, ten sports venues, an Olympic Village, media centre, parklands, several training venues and pre-game training camps.


The stage was therefore set for the construction of the main Olympic arena, the 80,000 capacity Olympic stadium. At an estimated cost of £469 million, to be completed in 2011 and convertible to a 25,000 capacity stadium after the games.


Having clearly stated how the Olympic stadium (as a project) fits into the entire Olympic delivery programme, I will begin by defining a project, a programme and their managements. This will enable my arguments in reviewing the differences between managing a single project and a project under a programme of work.

D.C Ferns (1991, p. 21) defined a programme as 'a group of projects managed in a coordinated manner in other to gain benefits which are not achievable by managing individual projects independently'.

R.S House (1988, p. 16) in his book the 'human side of project management' defined a project as '[a] group of related tasks or activities which together satisfy one or more objectives'.

Robert Prieto defined program management as '[t]he definition and integration of a number of projects to cause a broader, strategic business outcome to be achieved. He further argued that Programme management is not just the sum of all project management activities but also includes management of the risks, opportunities and activities that occur between projects'. (PM Hut, 2008)

While an individual project will employ a specific project delivery approach (design-bid-build, design/build, DBOM etc.), program management may combine different delivery approaches across multiple projects to best achieve the desired strategic business objectives. In the case study as I will later explain, a consortium was formed (Team McAlpine) to deliver the project. Now using several management parameters, I will therefore itemize the differences between their managements.

Table 3.1 Differences between Programme Management and project Management


Programme Management

Project Management


Semi-permanent in nature, resourced to address the full range of business requirements associated with achievement of a strategic business objective

Transient organization in nature, resourced to address a limited set of requirements that may be more temporal in nature and not recurring through all project phases.

Organizational Alignment

Analogous to building a new company with a sharply defined strategic business objective.

Team alignment around project and contract requirements

Outcome Definition

Strategic Business Outcome (enterprise viewpoint)

Defined scope, schedule and budget (output viewpoint)



Management of all risks associated with achievement of the defined strategic business objectives

Management of assumed risks


Establish programmatic and system technical requirements and allocate as appropriate to individual projects

Manage project to meet the allocated programmatic and system technical requirements

Interface Management

Management of all programmatic interfaces between defined projects as well as other programmatic interfaces with stakeholder groups

Management of allocated interfaces, if any, and all interfaces within the assembled project team



Program wide execution planning including top level schedule, budget, performance standards, supply chain configuration and contracting strategy

Project execution planning consistent with agreed to scope schedule, budget. and performance standards


Through achievement of strategic business objectives (more permanent in nature)

Duration associated with completion of project activities

Stakeholder Engagement

Identification and integration of stakeholders' interests and proactive engagement to assure achievement of strategic business objectives

Interaction with stakeholder groups only as contractually provided for

Source :( PM Hut, 2008)

Figure 3.1 Impressionist view of the London 2012 stadium.


Before outlining the challenges, we will look briefly at certain information we have gather about the games so far.

The multidisciplinary management structure required to deliver the project. The LOCOG acts in the capacity of client for the stadium project. They appointed the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to manage all embodied projects with the stadium inclusive. Hok sports, venues ltd was the designated architects, Bur Happlold the service engineers, Sir Robert Alpine the construction firm and M-E Engineers as the mechanical consultant. A consortium was formed and named Team McAlpine comprising all mentioned for the delivery of the project.

The share size and number of stakeholders was of National and international proportion. These includes;

The mayor and people of Stratford, London

Minister for the Olympics

British Olympic Association

The International Olympic committee

The individual featured sports committee

The department of culture, media and sports

The British Paralympics Association

More than a dozen sponsors and Partners

Quite a number of official suppliers and providers.

The interrelated projects that would have direct and indirect impacts on the stadium construction e.g. the Olympic park, the volodrome, the access bridges.

The budget initially estimated at £280 million but quickly rose to £496 million mostly due to rising inflation and an increase in contingencies (Guardian, 2009).

The stadiums proposed location, a contaminated site at Stratford in central London. (Contract Journal, 2009)

The economic downturn that hit the financial market and the world in general. Rising inflation figures as released by economic analyst on the health of the economy.

The announcement by the IOC, naming sustainability as a focus for the summer Olympics, this made it clear that the London 2012 organizers had to think beyond the Olympics and consider the concept of legacy, in particular environmental sustainability. (B. Digby, 2009).

Therefore, challenges were present right from the conception phase through the entire project lifecycle, and based on the facts listed above, the following challenges can be deduced;

The sustainability slogan meant most of the designs proposed had to be carbon sensitive and sustainability driven. This called for innovative designs and as explained by Alan Webb (1996, p. x) the management and creation of innovative projects are the most challenging of all managerial tasks as novelty implies a leap into the unknown. It is not for the faint hearted for there are shocks and surprises around every corner.

Cost and budgetary issues represents one of the greatest challenges the project faces. Many things can happen during the lifecycle of a project to increase project cost estimate, distort the expected rate and magnitude of expenditure (D. Lock, 2007). Has was the case when the recent financial meltdown raised its ugly head.

The challenge of managing stakeholder involvement is worth mentioning. Particularly regarding the sensitivity attached to stadium construction in the United Kingdom. The media was recently awash with condemnation for the management team of the Wembley stadium finishing behind schedule and with an escalated budget. Secondly, the magnitude of stakeholders warrants a proper dissemination of information and the pre-planned mitigation of wrong or biased information. A.D. Orr (2004, P. 8) wrote, '[t]he purpose of a stakeholder plan is to ensure that the relationships between the principal people in the project have been discussed and the information flowing between them have been agreed'.

The site for the construction was reported contaminated, although this might appear not to be a project management challenge, it is important to understand the project managerial resonance this might generate due to uncertainties ascribed.

The selection of a procurement strategy is always a challenge for projects in a multi project environment. The OGC advises that the procurement of contractor should be on the basis of whole-life value for money. The design and operation of the facility should maximize the delivery of effective service and this is most likely to be achieved through integration of design, construction, operation and on-going maintenance (OGC, 2007). In the Olympic stadium case study, a consortium was formed and proved a substantial factor in the mitigation of the project risks.

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It is important to mention resources management (void of cost) as a key challenge. One of the aims spelt out in the London 2012 sustainability policy document is to demonstrate an exemplary resource management practice (TOB, 2007). As a result resource utilization was minimized to achieve energy and environmental sustainability and project manager had to make tough decisions during construction.


H. Kerzner (1994, p. 43) wrote, '[t]he success of a project is best determined by its ability to deliver within the specified time, cost, desired performance and technology level whilst utilizing the resources effectively and efficiently'.

If an organization is to be successful in the delivery of its projects, it is essential to establish standards by which those projects are selected, managed and delivered. And these standards must be consistent with the organization's strategic plans (Max's, 2009). Therefore, a step-by-step recommendation for establishing consistent successful performance for the management of the 2012 Olympic stadium can be outlined as follows;

Plan and understand the project lifecycle. A standard set of project phases, stages and typical milestones required by the organisation's management to enable the consistent structuring and cost-effective processing of the organisation's project. (Max's- Issacons, 2000).

Align your resources independently with each phase of the project lifecycle.

Selecting a procurement strategy that best suites the project characteristics. Wright wrote, the selection of a contract and contractor are influenced by the nature of parties involve, the project objectives, and the equitable allocation of responsibilities and risk, amongst other factors. (N.J Smith, 2002)

Establish a control over the project ensuring that a system of reporting, allocating responsibilities and quality assessment is well defined. Bower wrote that the purpose of control is to ensure that the project's status is reported in a consistent, cost effective and timely manner to the project manager, so that necessary action can be taken. (N.J Smith, 2002)

Ensure that plans are understood by all team members and constant updates of the plans are frequently done. J.P Lewis (2000) wrote, 'It would be nice to think that a plan, once developed, will never change. However, that is unrealistic. Unforeseen problems are almost certain to arise. The most important thing is plan, re-plan and re-plan.

Continually assess risks. It is helpful to try to categorise the risks associated with the project both as a guide to identification, and to facilitate the selection of the most appropriate risk-management strategy. (N.J Smith, 2002)

Manage the impact of stakeholder involvement in the project. Although they appear as indirect players in the project environment, the stakeholders impact on the success of the project. Therefore managing their impact is vital to every successful project.

Setting delivery milestones dates for the various facets of the project and having a work breakdown structure helps to identify critical paths and activity duration. This is a must have for the Olympic stadium project.


In this report, we have categorised the project management challenges highlighted in the group presentation. In the categorisation, I have pointed out that while some groups utilized a framework for identifying the challenges, other groups mentioned the challenges under two main categories, strategic management and operational risks. In critically analysing the challenges mentioned, it would appear that selecting a framework for evaluating the risks is indeed a good practice. It is now obvious that a proper understanding of project peculiarities help to reveal challenges. While all groups were speculative about the challenges categorising the challenges would have help to further identify peculiar risks and challenges requiring the formulation of a risks management strategy.

The best practice for construction management refers to tools, techniques and guidelines that have proved effective over a wide range of construction management projects. And again this report has utilized a typical project lifecycle framework to outline the necessary elements required at each phase of a project. The assessment of risk and uncertainties was a process repeated in most phases of a project lifecycle because in actual sense the entire functions of a project manage revolves around his ability to provide resolutions to those uncertainties that eventually become a challenge in the implementation of a project. The importance of planning was also emphasised at every phase of the project and planning does not seize until the project has been delivered to time, budget and quality.

In the 2012 Olympic case study, differentiating the stadium construction project from a single project and identifying it as belonging to a multiply project environment reveals the need to adopt a different strategies. However, some elements of an established best practice such as value management and risk management would generally be applied successfully. To successfully Identifying the challenges, a review of the facts about the project is necessary as the magnitude and true nature of challenges become obvious. Then finally based on the characteristics of the project identified, lessons learnt and a review of the best practices, eight sets of guidelines were develop for the 2012 Olympic stadium project.


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