Vrije Universiteit Brussel Project Management Case: “Eurotunnel: Eyes Wide Shut” Questions and Answers: Question 1: What are the technical uncertainties that became a challenge for this project? Ground Conditions were more difficult than anticipated. Overall system was very complex with equipment and trains amongst the most heavily used in the world. Complexity of rolling stock was underestimated. The equipment for boring on the UK side required modification due to wet ground that held up tunnel drives. Ground conditions are part of the standard risk and could have been planned for in contingency. Machines on the French side were overdesigned, which caused start up delays and later proved to be unnecessary. Question 2: What are the market uncertainties this project had to cope with? At the start of the Eurotunnel operations the channel ferry operators merged and started much more aggressive pricing. Low fare airlines started operations during the 90’s. High speed link from Dover to London did not open until November 2007. The market consultants had estimated revenues of 642 million Pound Sterling by 2003. However, reality showed that, readjusted for price inflation, their estimates were wrong by 27%. There was no fundamental market uncertainty included in the project, moreover some of the partners new upfront that some of the data was inflated in order to obtain political approval for the project. Question 3: How did the excessive debt load on the project prevented Eurotunnel from being profitable? The financial figures identify the source of Eurotunnel’s inability to become profitable, namely its excessive debt load. In order to cover this debt load and still break even, Eurotunnel would need an operating margin of 318 Million Pound Sterling, or 54,5% of revenues, or to grow revenues to 1,029 Million Pounds Sterling at a constant margin. Margins earned of 50% and more are typically earned by the best software companies, but not in the transport sector. The 1987 forecast certainly did not predict growth to rise beyond one Billion, even not for the year 2013. The original bidders on the contract didn’t have the ultimate success of the operator (Eurotunnel) in mind when structuring the bid. The project was characterized by conflicts of interest and a lack of cooperation between the different parties. This became apparent right from the beginning and continued throughout the project. The fundamental problem was rooted in contract structures that compelled the players to work against one another, instead of with one another. Question 4: Would it have made sense to stop the project? Give 4 reasons why it was difficult to stop this project. To stop the project at the moment that they recognized that it was never to become a profitable enterprise, did not made sense. The project had strong political objectives and for different reasons, neither government would accept the loss of face from pulling the plug on it. It was difficult to stop also due to the fact that a “seductive appeal of common belief” had become widespread. Many believe that it was good to have the tunnel and didn’t look back on the economics of it any longer. It just needed to be there. The project also was difficult to stop due to its low salvage value and high cost of closing. Also it is hard for Project leaders with a good track record to recognize that a project runs an unacceptable level of risk. Experience tells them that they are supposed to handle this risk. Accepting failure might compromise one’s job or status. Moreover the pressure was on both sides. Both the British and French managers were mutually driven to keep up an image of professionalism and competence to handle the project. A final reason why projects keep on going is that organisations may suffer from administrative inertia. They believe their image might be shattered by giving up a project. Again, the image of the Eurotunnel project was such that governments and companies could not afford to give it up. Question 5: What could have been done in relation to the multitude of contracts and what is needed in large scale projects to embed them in a more robust partner management process? A contract should not be seen as a legal document but as a specification of a business deal. If contracts are used legalistically in order to pass the buck, management problems are bound to arise. Hence, contracts should be used in a way that both sides benefit from the deal. Specifying the business deal, as reflected in the business plan, would ensure focus on value creation for the client. This should be realistically appraised and the budget and schedule should reflect realistic project needs. Similarly, payment terms should be such that the deal is good business for both sides. Inevitably, changes will occur over time when you have long term projects, but if the initial deal is unfair and one-sided there is no chance of successful negotiation and constructive collaboration. Only if the original specifications make good business sense is there at least a chance of successfully working through changes. The need for a win-win deal and the ability to work through unexpected changes in long term projects requires that the contracts be embedded in an overarching description of a business approach and relationship supported by transparency and fair process in managing the changes that will inevitably occur in a large scale project.
The Channel Tunnel Project Management Essay
4222 WordsMar 22nd, 201117 Pages
A PROJECT ANALYSIS ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHANNEL TUNNEL
The Channel Tunnel is one of Europe's biggest infrastructure projects ever. The 50.45km long tunnel has fulfilled this old dream by linking Britain and the rest of Europe. The idea of a fixed link between Britain and France was first mooted by a French engineer in 1802; it connects England and France 50m below the seabed of the English Channel. It's not just a tunnel, but a huge infrastructure containing massive machinery and control systems in an underwater tunnel system (Lemley, 1995; Kirkland, 1995). In 1990 the service tunnels broke through at the halfway point. The main rail tunnels met on May 22, 1991 and on June 28, 1991, each accompanied by a…show more content…
Several adaptations to the traditional approaches like agile, interactive, phased, extreme, etc have been made but each will be expected to meet the requirements of the project objectives, timeline, resources, and deliveries of the stakeholders. Other industry standard certifications like ISO9000 and regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley have also influenced methodologies and processes used by several organisations (Kerzner, 2003). Generally, managing projects should involved five major process which include the project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and then project closing. See Fig. 2 below.
Fig 2: Major Project Management Processes. (Source: US DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS)
The nature and scope of a project is determined at the initiation stage. This involves analyzing the business needs, developing goals, budgets, tasks, deliverables, and the stakeholder analysis. The project planning stage determines the planning team, develops the scope, and identifies work breakdown structure and activities that will be needed to complete deliverables. The planning stage also estimates time and cost activities, develop schedule and risk plan, and gain formal approval for work to begin. The executing stage involves all processes used to meet the project requirement and involves managing people and resources. The process that entails the identification of potential problems and