Mega projects are easy to identify and are usually defined as those requiring investment of $1 billion or more. Typical projects include Olympic developments, numerous airports, hydropower and large power generation schemes, major rail developments and even relatively modest Oil & Gas projects. The Middle East, of course, is no stranger to mega projects and Masdar City, Yas Island, and the Burj Khalifa are just some recent examples successfully completed in the UAE alone. This paper considers the challenges of managing mega projects and identifies some key lessons learned.
Considerable effort is being applied worldwide to understand the success factors better for mega projects so that expensive and damaging mistakes can be avoided. The following summary of lessons learned is drawn from Mott MacDonald's experience of undertaking mega projects across many sectors all over the world, particularly from Oil & Gas:
No single project owner or leader
Poor project definition
Technical solutions too far beyond the state-of-the-art
Realism overtaken by enthusiasm for the project
Not keeping stakeholders involved
Weak procedures and processes to effectively manage the project
Economic climate at time of construction quite different from the planning stage
Client or project team inexperience
Not being prepared for things going wrong - they inevitably will
Not retaining learnings for the next mega project
More is known now on the challenges of managing mega projects than ever before, however, the learnings from previous projects are not always disseminated to help with the next one. It is hoped this paper will go some way towards improving the understanding of why mega projects often struggle and what can be done to make sure they don't.
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