Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy Christmas

So enough of disasters, let's look at the bright side of life. Christmas is a very old festival, originally pagan. The Romans called it Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17th and 25th, and during this period the law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring anyone. So that's one answer to the question: what did the Romans ever do for us? 

Unfortunately it was then hijacked by the Christians when they came on the scene and turned into the fable we know today. But fear not some of us are keeping the old traditions alive and will eat and drink to excess and have a thoroughly good time. I am also blessed to have my birthday on the Winter Solstice so yet another excuse for merriment. 

There is a lot of sadness in the world these days and we should always spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves but that is no reason for not wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and every success in the New Year. 

Friday, December 04, 2015

A Seriously Challenged Project

Another one from the Why Do Projects Fail website:
Edinburgh City Council: Tram Network (Sep 2003 to May 2014)

When originally conceived the project was intended to reduce traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions and help the city cope with the increased demand for public transport in the next decade. Today the project is regarded as a shambles and although Edinburgh does now have a tram, what they’ve ended up with falls far short of what was envisaged. Needless to say the public aren’t happy with what they got for their money.

Political influence and disputes between the contractors and consultants marred the project and the project came to a halt on several occasions. As early as 2005 the Scottish Parliament shelved the project when new cost estimates revealed an increase of 30% to the original £375m budget and although the project did get going again, those early cost increases were a warning sign of what was to come.
Soon after construction started in 2007, delays and cost overruns started to accumulate. Disputes between the various parties, quality issues and changes in design plagued the project and between 2008 and 2009 it became clear that the project had some deep seated issues. After 3 years of construction delays the City of Edinburgh Council stepped in. To limit ballooning costs and ongoing delays, the project’s scope was significantly reduced to one single 14km tramline from the airport to the City centre with 15 stops, about one third of the network initially envisaged.

Edinburgh residents had to endure the inconvenience of roads being dug up for the best part of seven years causing congestion and financial harm to businesses. The tram eventually took its first passengers in 2014.
The final cost of £1 billion, or £71.4m/km, compared to the average cost of about £22.7m/km for tramlines completed in 17 other cities in the northern hemisphere in the same period. A 314% cost increase for one third of the original scope.

Public opinion remains divided as to whether or not the project will eventually prove to be beneficial. An enquiry is currently underway to find the root causes and who was accountable for the fiasco. Contributing factors as reported in the press were: underestimating the complexity of the project; lack of contractor oversight; lack of quality controls; and failure to establish appropriate controls and management processes to ensure the project was properly organized.
Once again the real reason is plain to see: poor project management.