Setting priorities for projects
A department store planned to expand its operation by acquiring 20 acres of land in the southeast of a metropolitan area which consists of well established suburbs for middle income families. An architectural/engineering (A/E) firm was engaged to design a shopping center on the 20-acre plot with the department store as its flagship plus a large number of storefronts for tenants. One year later, the department store owner purchased 2,000 acres of farm land in the northwest outskirts of the same metropolitan area and designated 20 acres of this land for a shopping center. The A/E firm was again engaged to design a shopping center at this new location.
The A/E firm was kept completely in the dark while the assemblage of the 2,000 acres of land in the northwest quietly took place. When the plans and specifications for the southeast shopping center were completed, the owner informed the A/E firm that it would not proceed with the construction of the southeast shopping center for the time being. Instead, the owner urged the A/E firm to produce a new set of similar plans and specifications for the northwest shopping center as soon as possible, even at the sacrifice of cost saving measures. When the plans and specifications for the northwest shopping center were ready, the owner immediately authorized its construction. However, it took another three years before the southeast shopping center was finally built.
The reason behind the change of plan was that the owner discovered the availability of the farm land in the northwest which could be developed into residential real estate properties for upper middle income families. The immediate construction of the northwest shopping center would make the land development parcels more attractive to home buyers. Thus, the owner was able to recoup enough cash flow in three years to construct the southeast shopping center in addition to financing the construction of the northeast shopping center, as well as the land development in its vicinity.
While the owner did not want the construction cost of the northwest shopping center to run wild, it apparently was satisfied with the cost estimate based on the detailed plans of the southeast shopping center. Thus, the owner had a general idea of what the construction cost of the northwest shopping center would be, and did not wish to wait for a more refined cost estimate until the detailed plans for that center were ready. To the owner, the timeliness of completing the construction of the northwest shopping center was far more important than reducing the construction cost in fulfilling its investment objectives.
Resource Constraints for Mega Projects
A major problem with mega projects is the severe strain placed on the environment, particularly on the resources in the immediate area of a construction project. “Mega” or “macro” projects involve construction of very large facilities such as the Alaska pipeline constructed in the 1970’s or the Panama Canal constructed in the 1900’s. The limitations in some or all of the basic elements required for the successful completion of a mega project include:
· engineering design professionals to provide sufficient manpower to complete the design within a reasonable time limit.
· construction supervisors with capacity and experience to direct large projects.
· the number of construction workers with proper skills to do the work. the market to supply materials in sufficient quantities and of required quality on time.
· the ability of the local infrastructure to support the large number of workers over an extended period of time, including housing, transportation and other services.
To compound the problem, mega projects are often constructed in remote environments away from major population centers and subject to severe climate conditions. Consequently, special features of each mega project must be evaluated carefully.