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Sydney Opera House Project Management Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Project Management
Wordcount: 2238 words Published: 10th Nov 2020

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The Sydney Opera House has been knowing as the architectural masterpiece in the worldwide of the twentieth century and also an iconic landmark nationally and globally (DEE, 2016; Unesco, 2006). However, the construction project process behind the masterpiece building is a long story. The purpose of this essay is to investigate the triple constraints in the project management evaluation. The Sydney Opera House project management process will be examined as an example by using traditional triple constraints which include cost, time and scope. The distinction between project success and project management success will also be discussed. Further, other variables that may impact project management success will also be analyzed. 

Project sucess and triple constraint

Triple constraints refer to the list of primary requirements in the project management process which includes project scope, time and costs management. These three factors are also used to measure project management success(Brewer and Dittman 2010, p. 14 as cited in Cuellar, M. ,2010). Project scope is discussed as the main component which can drive the time and cost of the project management(Aminzadeh, M., Mojaveri, H. S., & Shafeiha, S. ,2013).


A welled defined project scope investigation will break the whole project into smaller pieces which can be easily managed(Aminzadeh, M., Mojaveri, H. S., & Shafeiha, S. ,2013).The project scope analysis will allow further investigation regarding the time frames and project budget changes during the project development process (Aminzadeh, M., Mojaveri, H. S., & Shafeiha, S. ,2013). According to the research literature, most of the project scope was not well identified at the beginning of the IT projects and the most arguable reason is that the business domain was not well acknowledged(Aminzadeh, M., Mojaveri, H. S., & Shafeiha, S. ,2013). Other researchers argue that clients should take part of the responsibility for the poorly defined project scope as they may not provide cleary describe functionality in the project initiation stage (Aminzadeh, M., Mojaveri, H. S., & Shafeiha, S. ,2013).

Capturing Scope 

The scope is an important part of the product implementation strategy and the project management efficiency can be increased if the project scope was reached( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013). There are a few steps for identifying the project scope( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013).

Identify Requirement 

The project requirement should not change over time once it was determined and it will be hard to produce a product with moving target and changing goal( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013). Therefore, it is important to focus on real needs and investment. The main reason which leads to the project failures includes incomplete requirements, moving target requirements and unclear project objects( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013).. Moreover, the welled documented project scope is also important to make project success ( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013). Sydney opera house project management can be identified as failed on scope management as the project plan and project scope have never been finalized in the initial stage of the project. The design of Utzon was at a very schematic and rudimentary level, which meant uncertainty of scope and quality of the whole project. Not only did the project launch with no finalized plans to follow, but the client also changed the floor plan from two theaters to four shortly after construction began. Compounding the chaos that followed was the lack of a project manager. 

Identify Stakeholder 

When writing project requirements, Stakeholders should be on the priority to focus. Users and customers should be considered as the essential part of the stakeholders so it is important to know the real needs of the stakeholders and satisfied them. The key stakeholders should be involved in the project scope defined process and their needs should be considered during the whole project development process( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013). 

Robert W. Poole, Jr. & Peter Samuel [30] carried out through analysis of Boston’s Big Dig Megaproject along with other transportation projects. They observed that the major source of cost increases in mega-projects is project creep, adding unanticipated elements and unforeseen complexity( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013). 

For making a project successful, keeping good communication with the stakeholder is important. The dissatisfaction will impact the project negatively. Larsen and Grey(2011) state that project managers can use the communication plan as a tool to manage information distribution appropriately and make communication effective. In the project management process of Sydney Opera House, there is no communication plan was set up or policy which helps the project manager to communicate with the stakeholders properly. According to Sykes, the communication between Utzon and the engineering firm OVE Arup& Partners are frustrated as Utzon was not willing to share his idea with his design as he has higher expectations on the solution. The design itself was facing problems and the lakeness of the communication make the project going slowly. Ulzon also refused to have a phone in his office which makes the communication harder. Utzon was accused of poor cooperation by the engineers and Utzon believes that the engineer team lack of consultation. 

Sydney Opera house project management was failed in stakeholder management because of the poor communication between Utzon and the engineering team. The main reason behind this is that Ulzon didn’t identify the engineer as an important stakeholder in the project and he barely take their advice seriously and make an effort to communicate with them. 

Identify Project Drivers 

Project results can be determined by outside factors which include regulation, laws, standard and other restrictions. The existing system, equipment, the software was usually set as the major driver by many companies, and security and safety were usually be considered as secondary concerns. All drivers are important for a project and the project manager should identify, track and analyze all of the drivers( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013). The regulation and standard changes can be another reason for the scope of management failure in the Sydney Opera house case. The new local government was elected in 1965 and the constructing authority changed as well. Ulzon already agrees to demand with the previous government and this agreement was abandoned when the new government takes control. Ulzon failed to identify the drivers of the new government and The new minister accuse Ulzon of “providing confident assurances and then failing to meet the expectations” (Woolley, 2010, p. 15). (paper1) 

Examining the Scope Statement 

The scope statement can be explained as the tool to justify the project deliverables in high levels and project objective quantities (Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013). According to the study of the Construction Industry Institute (CII), a welled defined scope will lead the project to success as it will help to save the budget by improving project predictability ( Mirza, M. N., Pourzolfaghar, Z., & Shahnazari, M. ,2013). However, it is impossible to exam the scope statement for Ulzon as the project scope keeps changing and even the project authority changed. 

Time and budget 

There is no set time frame in the Sydney opera house project which leads to the cost overruns. Time and costs were both important in the project management process and these two factors are related to each other. The project budget needs to be adjusted when the time was delayed to meet the quality requirement of a project. Sydney opera house project was not completed phase two in 1966 which is four years after the proposed completion date. Three Australian engineers take over the project after Utzon left and they complete phase two in 1967. When the project was finally completed in 1973, the project cost  $102 million, almost fifteen times the plan budget.

Project Success and Project Management Sucess

One way to evaluate project management success is to define if the project objectives were achieved. Therefore, project management will be defined as successful if the project was finished on time and within budget. The project will be identified as success traditionally if it meets the requirements of the high-level management and the clients on cost, time, and scope performance (Larson and Gray 2011, p. 106 as cited in Cuellar, M. ,2010). Sydney Opera House can be defined as failed by using the traditional definition of project management success as the project failed on the finish on time, within budget and the scope requirements. 

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The definition of project success is more complicated than project management success. Baccarini(1999) states that Project success and project management success evaluation are two distinctive definitions. The project management process is more focused on the project management process itself and the triple constraints play an important role in it. On the other hand, Project success is more focused on the final deliveries or the accomplished works. Sydney Opera House was argued as a project-level success project but failed at the project management level completely( Nixon, Harrington, and Parker,2012). The project management level failed was because the project didn’t finish on the initial completion date and highly exceeded on cost. However, the questioning of the roles projects to time, quality, budget to define a project is increasing. Baccarini(1991) argues that project quality should be evaluated in a bigger picture of the project management process. Baccarini(1991) suggests that more factors should be considered when evaluating a project and the traditional triangle should be extended. Therefore, the Sydney Opera house project management should be evaluated by involving more affecting factors. In the product and project perspective, the project is successful at the product level. Sydney Opera House was known as the national landmark building and the building influenced the world both architecturally and culturally. The building has become the most popular cultural institution and attracts two million visitors.

3.0 Reflection and conclusion

Sydney Opera House is a typical case that failed on project management level and success on the project level. However, the traditional way to define project management success was questioned in today’s time management context. In her discourse “Avoiding the Successful Failure”, Bourne (2007)  believes that there are other factors which can impact the project management other than triple constraintts. 

 The new technology makes time, cost and scope management more easily and makes the project management under control easily. The negative impact from the triple constrains can be prevented and reduced by the project management software. The project manager can easily track the project schedule and indicate the project performance. Most of the issues occrued on Sydney Opera House project management may no longer be an issue today. However, other factors can impact the project potentially like poor communication with the stakeholders, not a well-defined scope and unclear requirements.


  • Aminzadeh, M., Mojaveri, H. S., & Shafeiha, S. (2013). Improving relationship between UML and Petri Nets for analyzing system by applying object oriented Petri Nets. Journal of Advances in Information Technology, 4(1).
  • Baccarini, D. (1999). The logical framework method for determining critical success/failure factors in projects. International Journal of Project Management, 14(3), pp. 141-151.
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  • Cuellar, M. (2010). Assessing project success: Moving beyond the triple constraint. Project Management, 13.
  • DEE. (2016). World Heritage Center - The Sydney Opera House. (A. G. Energy, Ed.) Retrieved October 19,
  • 2016, from http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/world/sydney-opera-house/values
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  • Nixon, P., Harrington, A., & Parker, D. (2012). Leadership performance is significant to project success or failure: a critical analysis. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 61(2), pp. 204-216.


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