Management of Macro-Projects

Cockle Bay Wharf at dusk, Darling Harbour, Sydney is an example of successful management of a macro project. Image courtesy: Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

During the early and mid-1980,s the Australian macro-engineering sector was becoming increasingly concerned at the number of large projects being poorly managed by overseas organisation and was beginning to press for improvements

In 1982 Professor Bob Bilger had paid a visit to the American Society for Macro-Engineering.  During his discussions there was much emphasis on the truly global nature of complex modern project planning and implementation.  This had brought with it a worldwide need for improved policy and decision making, specifically in design, management and outcomes of major works. Professor Bilger reported to the Warren Centre saw the topic swiftly adopted as a worthy project and its dynamic implementation followed.

IDENTIFIED NEED FOR MACRO PROJECT INFORMATION

This project was extremely timely and topical. The enthusiasm with which the study proceeded and the results, which were embraced by industry and government, generated an impact with many positive outcomes. The major initial achievement of the project was that it identified the need for continued macro-project information.

This provided the springboard for a number of initiatives and developments. The key activities of the project involved intensive research followed by two day expert seminars. Project findings were presented in May 1985 and the final report submitted the following September. Both the expert seminars and the intensive study phase created such an impact on industry and some sections of government that, even before the project team presented its final report, it was decided to invite The Warren Centre to continue this role as a point of communication and co ordination for the
study of macro projects.

NATIONAL AND INDUSTRY PROPOSALS FOR CHANGE

The project recognised a number of specific national opportunities and in its comprehensive report made suggestions for timely national and industry change. The principal thrusts of the recommendations were:

  • Globalisation was inevitable in an increasingly complex world
  • Globalisation encompassed privatisation, leading to rapid introduction of Build Own
  • Operate Transfer (BOOT) contracts in the major engineering field
  • Enterprises must look to global partnership sponsors
  • Enterprises must improve fast-track design
  • Financial analysis, both capital and operational, must improve to support the increasing demand for senior debt financing of principal national infrastructure projects in the future.

Opening night at Stadium Australia.

FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES

Key activities that resulted from the project were:

  • The project helped Leighton Holdings, Thiess, Transfield and other organisations to become major players in the management of macro projects, particularly in boot infrastructure projects
  • The presence of international participants in The Warren Centre project and the subsequent representation by Macro Engineering Panel members overseas greatly boosted Recognition Of Australia as a centre for major project sponsorship and senior debt funding, especially in the area of infrastructure development
  • The Macro-Engineering Council was born out of the Panel and still continues as an active industry-supported representative body
  • The construction industry is more sophisticated, works to finer margins and generally produces a superior product compared to twenty years ago
  • In 1986, Neville Chidgey presented a Warren Centre paper to the American Society for Macro-Engineering and became a founding director of the International Association of Macro-Engineering Societies
  • In 1988, Pergamon Press of New York re-printed the paper “Macro-Engineering – An Australian Perspective” in its international publication Technology in Society
  • The management techniques promoted by the project were fundamental to the successful organisation of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
  • Thanks to this project, Australian project management skills are now recognised and sought after world-wide
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