The 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics Highlight the Need for Project Turnaround Considerations

With less than two weeks until the 2014 World Cup and a little over two years until the 2016 Olympics, media attention is heating up for both major international events. Many of these stories will undoubtedly focus on issues with the planning and execution of each event. Brazil should take action to ensure that the World Cup in various cities, and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro down the road, are both labeled a success.

It’s not too late

While observing the preparations for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, I’ve noticed a couple of key issues that beg for “project turnaround.” Certain aspects of Brazil’s preparations are lacking proper control and oversight and are “at risk.” Without corrective action, they can quickly degrade to “imminent failure” during the preparation for these major events.

  • Project Governance/Alignment – When a project’s vision does not exist or does not align with organizational goals, a risk of failure is present. During the building process for the World Cup, many of the problems with cost overruns and construction are due to a lack of long-term planning. While one would assume the overarching goal of holding a successful World Cup and proving the vitality of the Brazilian nation creates a drive to complete needed projects, a sound alignment of proper business planning with that vision does not always exist in the face of competing political agendas (e.g., which cities will host new stadiums and games).
  • Scope/Product – More risk of failure exists when the overall quality of work is poor and a general misunderstanding (or disagreement) of scope exists. This is apparent for the Brazilian World Cup. As construction has progressed, poor quality construction has become commonplace as corners are being cut to save money and time. More work needs to be done to outfit the stadiums with all of the necessary IT, media, kitchen, and ticketing amenities that will be required, adding to incremental costs. Some stadiums that are already finished for the World Cup are poorly constructed, with pieces of roof at the stadium in Belo Horizonte stadium falling into the stands just hours before a match a couple of months ago.
  • Time – Another oft-reported story in Brazil is the number of stadiums and facilities that are opening far behind schedule. A risk of timeline failure is represented by major milestones that have been missed and a project that is on track to miss its completion date. By many measures, Brazil has missed major milestones, with numerous stadiums and facilities incomplete by their expected (and sometimes extended) completion dates. A series of construction delays means some facilities will not be finished until just before the games, which requires expanding the workforce (increased scope) and working around the clock (increased cost) to rectify the situation. Just last week, a final test of a Sao Paulo stadium was postponed until June 1 because of concerns from local authorities and FIFA wanting to ensure the game attracts more than the 50,000 fans required to test the stadium.

With time being of the essence, the pressure is on to deliver by the start of the games on June 12. Next week, we will focus on the project turnaround considerations of cost, resources, and appropriate communication that need to happen in the final days leading up to the World Cup.

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