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Evaluating the huge project British Airways London Eye

1. Project Background The British Airways LE, also known as the millinuim, which was designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield, the husband and wife team of architects, is one of the tallest structures in London (2008). In addition, it is also the world’s largest observation wheel with a diameter of 135 metres(450feets) and 1600 tonnes, which carried 32 capsules of up to 25 people on a half-hour continuous ride above London (2009). London’s spectacular new observation wheel, the British Airways LE, was built on the banks of the river Thames in just 16 months.

It was “launched” on December 31, 1999 and opened to public in March 2000 (Wang, & Mann, 2003, p. 10) The objective of LE was constructed to cellebtate the new Millennium. It had become the most popular tourist attraction in London, visited by over three million people in the first year after its opening. Because it was extremely popular from beginning until now, the plans had changed from the original opening for only five years into permanent part of the London skyline (2009) .

Constructing the Merlin Entertainments LE was a massive challenge. Not only because it is the tallest observation wheel in the world, but also

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it is a innovation and revolutionary design which combined the best of British design, architecture and engineering with an exceptional team of experts. As the data showed: more than 1,700 people in five different countries (the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, France, and Italy) worked in this project ((Wang, & Mann, 2003, p. 10).

The wheel was an outcome of the united efforts of the project team comprising of Mace Ltd, Tussauds Group, Marks Barfield (the original conceiver of LE) and other specialists from different European nations making this dream into reality. 2. Project Initiation Strategy “Project Initiation begins with the judious selection of the organization’s projects to align them with the organization’s overall strategy” (Meredith & Mantel , 2009, p. 35). The progress of project initiation is important to the whole project developing.

The author will give futher discuss about the project initiation strategy as following: 2. 1 Project selection “Project selection is the process of evaluating proposed projects or groups of projects, and then choosing to implement some set of themes so that the objectives of the parent organiation will be achieved” (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 40). Learning from the secondary research, the LE was a “political project”, its original concept of the Wheel was an ideal symbol for London in the Millennium – representing the turning of the century.

In other words, the LE was established to cellebtate the new Millennium. Moreover, the Prime Minister Tony Blair would officially open the Millennium Wheel on Dec. 31, 1999 (2007). Based on the above objectives, the LE had followed the criterias related to the project selection and chose the optimal project proposal. First of all, it adopted the “Sacred Cow” model (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 45). In this case, the project was suggested by the powerful official in the organization. The initial plan and the time were “sacred” by the British government. Lower-managers must follow this decision.

Simultaneous, the competitive necessity model was used in the process of LE project selection (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 45). It had brought great economic benefits because of the tourism. From official opening on March 2000, the wheel received a total of over 25 million visitors, according to 13. 5 pounds to calculate fares, it had earned more than 300 million pounds. In addition to that, it had brought great honor for BA and Mace. The Project had won more than 75 awards since its first opening and remains a symbol of Mace’s commitment to innovation on high profile projects.

In conclusion, the results proved that the operators of BA made a right decision to selecte LE project. 2. 2 Project Manager The next step is to find a good manager when the project is selected,. The functions of Project Manager is like a mini CEO, and the manager must clearly understand whether the project is suitable for the parent organization. Project managers must own some skills, such as: strong technical background, communication skills, good relationship with senior executives and so on (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 108). In this case, the company Mace was in charge of the LE project construction and management.

The moment Mace took over responsibility for the project in August 1998, the deadline loomed only 14 months away from the point (2009). In conclusion, learning from the information which was collected by research, it is a bright decision to choose Mace as the Project Managers. Mace is one of the UK’s leading project management companies, which was used to facing many complicated construction challenges. Consequently, it had enrich experience to solve all kinds of complicated projects. That is a key factor to ensure the LE project to success eventually. 2. 3 Conflicts Management

“Conflicts had been generated during the process of tendering”. And all stages of the project life cycle will appear conflicts, especially in the initial stage of project life cycle (Meredith & Mantel , 2009, p. 161). In LE project, different contractors speaking different languages from different parts of Europe would create language barrier during operations (Sadoc, 2005). As it was mentioned above, in this project, more than 1,700 people from different countries worked together. The big challenge this project would face is how to coordinate with the multi-national project teams.

The culture difference would creat huge impat on the management. As the Project Manager, Mace adopted the following ways to address conflict: Firstly, setting a common goals. As mentioned above, the team faced both the technical challenges and the extremely time scale, they had to cope not only with a huge geographical dispersial of procurement but also with coordinating all of the linked technical demands. In order to ensure that everything was delivered in London at the right time and in the right condition, they must work on one goal (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 169).

Working on the project with the common goals and expections, which ensure to reduce and resolve the conflicts. Secondly, the authorities were certainty. Responsibilities of the contractors, suppliers or other funtional managers were defined unambiguous. The last one is to negotiate with the team members. By negotiating, the Project Manager Mace established a successful relationship with other team members. In conclusion, due to the Project Managers Mace adopted the right method to resolve interpersonal conflict, reduce the culture difference impact, the team was united and highly-efficient.

In addition, the cooperation yielded more benefits to the client and the programme was fulfilled at last. 2. 4 Organization Structure The type of LE is a pure project organizational structure. According to above information, which was collected by the secondary research, the Project Managers Mace played an important role in this project and had the direct authority to control the project (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 192). It took a holistic approach to projects from its inception to completion. Moreover, every funtional departments reported to the Project Manager.

Over 500 local people and overseas were employed by Mace. In order to control the project process better, all the related departments must report to the Mace. (The project organization see Figure 2) Figure 1. The project organization (Mann, Thompson, Smits, 2001,p. 60) Base on the above analysis, LE is a large and one- time project. The pure project organizational structure is suitable for this project. Two supporting reasons are as follows: Firstly, the Project Manager had full authority and this centralized authorith can make for rapid decision making (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 195).

Secondly, people on this project, who came from different countries were concered about project, not their own functional unit. The team members could have holistic approach. In conclusion, the above two factors were important to ensure the complicated project LE to be completed with high quality before the milionnium eve. 3. Implementation of strategies 3. 1 Budgeting The purpose to make a budget is to allocate the limited resources. In other words, the act of budgeting is to allocate the scarce resources to the various endeavors of an organization. (Meredith & Mantel, 2009, p. 293). It is important in the entire process of management.

In this case, the type of budgeting method is “Top Down” Budgeting (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 297). Learning from the collected information, the LE was a capital intensive project, which was supported by two international banks (Westdeutsche Landesbank and Sumitomo Bank). Project budget estimates were made having analysed the capital investment vis–vis breakeven point. The top managers estimate the overall project cost, then give to the lower-level managers, who are expected to continue the breakdown into budget estimates for the specific tasks and work packers (Meredith & Mantel Jr, 2009, p. 297).

The total budget in LE, originally was about 11 million, then up to 20 million. 3. 2 Cost Estimations The estimation of cost are important in the whole process of project Implementation (2000). The cost estimation must clarity especially for the complicated project that refered to a large number of aspects. In LE project, the initial cost estimates came from  45 million rose to 75 million (2009). Based on the above information, it clearly shows that the actual cost of LE had been over its cost estimations. The main reason was that the project was so huge and complicated.

The technical complexity and scale of the LE lead to the difficulty in management. When a new project team was formed , which comprised Mace, the original architect, the Tussauds Group (selected by BA as the operator of the completed attraction), marine engineers, independent checking engineers and major component manufacturing contractors, majority of the original compromised engineering design was rejected, it must cost more to make a new design (Sadoc, 2005). Moreover, the cost of steel was increasing. All of these lead to the actual costs of LE over its cost estimations.

In order to arrange people and organisations to the project and explain which work packages should be performed in the given date, the schedule was usually used by the Project Manager. (Meredith & Mantel, 2009, p. 333). The project was established to celebrate the millunium and Prime Minister would open it, so it is a “design-time” project. However, the project was so huge and complication, which comprised the wheel structure, thirty-two passenger capsules, the boarding platform, associated river works and the landscaping of the adjacent Jubilee Gardens ( The specific time schedule sees Table 1).

Duration of project 16 months Specific timetable Solvingdesigning problems The first two months Solving technical problems The next two months Project Starting 11/01/1999 completion 31/12/1999 Table 1: The duration of project (2000) It was clearly to see according to the above schedule that it was very difficult to co-ordinate so many different processes and contractors within that timescale. In this situation, using the old manual methods of scheduling is almost impossible.

Mace chose Asta Powerproject, a professional project management tool that is well-proven in the construction industry (2006). By using Asta Powerproject, LE project schedule could show the actual dates for every major milestone of the project. This schedule illustrated dates for every major element and created a guide function for the project. In conclusion, Mace chose Asta Powerproject as the new methods of scheduling, it helped to complete the complicated project in the fixed time.

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