An Analysis of “Success” in High-Profile Projects A Case Study of the Berlin Brandenburg International

An Analysis of “Success” in High-Profile Projects: A Case Study of the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport Project


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Table of Contents

TOC o “1-3” h z u 1.0 Introduction PAGEREF _Toc100459088 h 31.1 Purpose of this Report PAGEREF _Toc100459089 h 31.2 Background to the case study PAGEREF _Toc100459090 h 41.3 Structure of this report PAGEREF _Toc100459091 h 52.0 Successful or Unsuccessful? PAGEREF _Toc100459092 h 62.1 Success Criteria in the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport Mega Project PAGEREF _Toc100459093 h 62.2 Discussion PAGEREF _Toc100459094 h 92.3 Section Summary PAGEREF _Toc100459095 h 123.0 Factors which contributed to Failure/Poor Performance of the Mega Project PAGEREF _Toc100459096 h 133.1 Management and Supervision by Inexperienced and Non-Specialists PAGEREF _Toc100459097 h 133.2 Too Many Project Stakeholders with Variant Interests and Influence PAGEREF _Toc100459098 h 153.3 Insufficient Testing to Ensure High Standards in Quality of Operations PAGEREF _Toc100459099 h 183.4 Section Summary PAGEREF _Toc100459100 h 214.0 Recommendations PAGEREF _Toc100459101 h 224.1 Hiring Experienced Project Management Team PAGEREF _Toc100459102 h 224.2 Stakeholder Identification and Analysis PAGEREF _Toc100459103 h 244.3 Sufficient Quality Assurance and Testing PAGEREF _Toc100459104 h 255.0 Summary of Analysis & Key Recommendations PAGEREF _Toc100459105 h 26References PAGEREF _Toc100459106 h 28

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Purpose of this Report

The purpose of this report is to examine, in great detail, the conduct of the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport Project. A systematic analysis will be prepared for this case study, critically discussing and analysing the definition of success. Practices and factors that led to the outcomes of the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport Project will also be analysed in relation to the criterion of success. The factors and practices will then be weighed against the extent of good or poor project strategies. Finally, the report will conduct an evaluation and recommend how use of project best practices and theories in project strategy might have contributed to better outcomes through avoidance of issues mentioned.

1.2 Background to the case studyIt took 29 difficult years to complete Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport, which was delayed by defective construction, design issues, and suspicions of corruption (Sedlin, Beckmann, & Tan, 2020). The airport finally opened its doors in late 2020, nine years behind schedule. This milestone occurred at a perilous time: the COVID-19 epidemic has greatly restricted travel throughout the globe, resulting in an airport that is almost completely devoid of passengers and cargo. The project is one-of-a-kind in that it has now come to symbolize inept state sector, poor governance, and mismanagement of funds, all of which contribute to the collapse of major infrastructure projects. As more and more issues occurred, private investors in the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport mega project withdrew their funds, leaving only the state to fund and supervise the construction process on its own. Obtaining a contractor to construct and finance the airport was challenging during the international economic meltdown of 2007-20008 (Fiedler & Wendler, 2016). other issues provided herein also contributed to the notable delayed project. Despite achieving completion status, the current report terms the project as unsuccessful, owing to the time delays, going overbudget, and having several quality issues. 

1.3 Structure of this report

The report begins with an introduction that provides purpose of the study, a background of the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport mega project, and a brief explanation of the structure. It then moves on to an analysis of success, providing the success criterion selected to determine outcome, a discussion of the theories relating to project success, and a summarisation of these issues. the report then moves to the third section that looks at the factors that contributed to an unsuccessful project in the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport mega project. Section four will provide a theoretical analysis and critical evaluation in order to give recommendations. The last section will provide a summary and restate the key recommendations.

2.0 Successful or Unsuccessful?At the core of this critical evaluation is the position that the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport project was not successful. By providing an analysis of critical success criteria and critical success factors, the section will prove why, even after the project completion, the report regards it as a failure.

2.1 Success Criteria in the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport Mega Project 

Megaprojects are very large-scale investment projects with a monetary worth and cost in the billions of dollars range. In addition to power plants, oil and gas processing facilities, highway construction and tunneling, high-capacity bridges and seaport and airport construction, as well as any other large infrastructure project such as stadium construction for international sporting events, are included in the definition of a megaproject (Vrchota et al., 2020). In order to succeed, megaprojects must rely on the coordination and management of a large and intricate collection of social and technological resources. There are so many potentials for disorder to erupt that some experts feel it will be impossible to keep the ultimate upheaval under control when it occurs. Turbulence has shown itself in a number of high-profile initiatives over the course of the last few years. Included in this case study is one of the many mega projects laden with issues and a near collapse: the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, which only came into completion in 2020 after a series of project management failures that saw it have a decade of delayed delivery of deliverables.

Megaprojects are, by definition, hectic in their development. When project stakeholders are immersed in a frenzy of activities, priorities, and deliverables, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and forget what the important success criteria are for achieving the project’s objectives (Rasool et al., 2022). The parts of a project that are vital to the project’s success in attaining its purpose or aim are referred to as crucial success factors. The aspects are well defined, and they may be monitored via the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A number of essential success aspects have been identified, including the components that are required for delivery and the criteria that determine whether or not the deliverable is successful (Yan et al., 2019). The top five critical success factors for mega infrastructure construction projects according to Mišić and Radujković (2015) are effective resource accessibility, efficient collaboration with the key stakeholders, sufficient collaboration and cooperation among all related and interested parties, the support and acceptance of the public including local governance and communities, and a clearly defined strategic vision and mission statements. Mega infrastructure construction projects are defined as those that involve the construction of a large amount of infrastructure in a short period of time. Delivering high-quality and functional product, while staying under budget, and meeting the timeframes for the aforementioned deliverables are all essential success criterion, as is maintaining a positive customer relationship.

2.2 Discussion

The difference between the success factors and success criteria is that project success criteria are dependent variables that quantify the success of a given project, while project success factors are independent variables that determine the probability of a particular project’s successful completion. Another way of putting it is that success criteria are used to quantify success, while success factors are components that contribute to the attainment of successful outcomes. In addition to time and cost limitations, user happiness and quality-performance indicators are among the most often utilized success criteria in software development (Maghsoodi & Khalilzadeh, 2018). Other considerations include stakeholder satisfaction, strategic goals/objectives, competitiveness, functionality, contentment of the project team, and general safety and security, among other things. Additional research addresses contractor happiness, future perspectives, and environmental impact, while a small number of researchers believe that project effectiveness and supplier satisfaction may have an impact on the total project success, although this is still under investigation.

Several studies have shown that the three most often mentioned and critical success factors are time (as defined by the schedule), money (as described by the set budget), and quality (as defined by the established standards) (as determined by the level of performance) (Nunes & Abreu, 2020). Additionally, client/user happiness has been identified as a factor to consider according to current studies (Pollack et al., 2018). Also worth mentioning is that these criteria serve as the basis for determining if a project has achieved conventional success. A further finding of the literature review is, among other things, that project definition, top/senior management support, and project communication are the most important key success factors to consider (Lehtonen, 2019), with a particular focus on the relationship between the project and the external environment. To evaluate the relevance of the analyzed success criteria and determinants at the conclusion of the study, quantifying the frequency of use in previous studies for the said criteria was applied. Schedule, quality/performance, and the financial budget were all compromised at various points throughout the construction of the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport megaproject.

Without a doubt, these three criteria characterize “project management success,” and they are often reviewed over the course of a project’s execution and completion. The degree of satisfaction indicated by clients/users is a second crucial factor that has been emphasized significantly by numerous academics (Maghsoodi & Khalilzadeh, 2018; Yan et al., 2019). At least so far, Berlin Brandenburg International Airport has performed well in this respect. Technical requirements and standards, as well as business and commercial performance, are all important considerations to examine and manage effectively. The commercial profitability of a project, as well as stakeholder satisfaction, are two critical criteria in determining the project’s long-term viability. Combined with stakeholder satisfaction, modern project management as a scientific topic has resulted in the development of the Knowledge Area of project stakeholder management, which is still in its early stages (Wagner, 2016). Three crucial components of the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport failed to satisfy stakeholder expectations as a result of controversies, delays, and cost overruns that exceeded the anticipated budget for the megaproject.

2.3 Section Summary

The analysis concludes that the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport failed to satisfy the criteria of timing (scheduled arrivals), cost (budget), and quality (performance). Also identified is the inability to provide customer satisfaction for important stakeholders such as local governments, the federal government, the private sector, workers and vendors. While it is true that the users’ pleasure of the project is high, all other parts of the main success criteria for the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport project were found to be lacking.

3.0 Factors which contributed to Failure/Poor Performance of the Mega Project

At 45 million passengers per year, the Berlin Brandenburg Airport was expected to be one of Europe’s busiest airports within Germany (Sedlin, Beckmann, & Tan, 2020). In all, the airport terminal’s feasibility and preparation and planning stage took approximately 15 years to complete. The airport’s development began in 2006 and was expected to be completed in 5 years. October 30, 2011 had been the projected date for its opening. However, the time schedule failed miserably as noted elsewhere in this report.

3.1 Management and Supervision by Inexperienced and Non-SpecialistsA key success factor as mentioned earlier in any mega projects is adequate management and supervision of various functions. Management and supervision enable the project to adequately and efficiently use the resources available in order to meet the deliverables and to stay within the critical success criteria (Denicol, Davies, & Krystallis, 2020). In the case of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport, there is evidence of poor management due to political interference and other disruptors.

When the political leadership of the entire project decided to scrap away the collaborative efforts with various private-sector partners, there were severe consequences. The project lost public and private entity goodwill. These partners had previously been formed to help in the raising of funds, for easier and faster construction, and operating the airport at the onset of the project. Organizational politics were used to cite the principle that the private sector should not profit at the expense of the public good (Geraldi & Stingl, 2016). The airport was subsequently transformed into a completely public enterprise. This was done in order to save money, to stimulate the local construction industry, and to keep the project on its current track. None of the political leaders had any prior expertise with large-scale construction projects before taking on this job. Politicians, governmental authorities, and labor officials were in control of practically all aspects of monitoring (Wagner, 2017). This was due to the supervisory board’s inability to exercise effective and full supervision over the planning and development, resulting in needless delays, uncertainty and major cost overruns throughout the planning and development phase.

3.2 Too Many Project Stakeholders with Variant Interests and InfluenceStakeholders are those who have the power to influence the result of a project in either a positive or bad way. When it comes to project management, the ability of a project manager to identify and communicate with stakeholders from the beginning is important to his or her success. It is possible to include both internal and external stakeholders. Just a few of the various stakeholder categories that can be found in the business world are consumers, prospects, members of the project team, management staff, finance professionals, unit managers, marketers, buyers, and funders, among others. Identifying the key stakeholders and understanding their needs all through the project’s life cycle are among the responsibilities of a project manager (Mišić & Radujković, 2015). Others inside the business, such as managers and employees, are referred to as internal stakeholders since their actions have a direct influence on the project’s day-to-day operations. Outside stakeholder are individuals who are not directly engaged in the project, but who have the power to have an impact on its operations in a number of different ways. These groups are made up of people, organizations, and government entities (Pollack et al., 2018). Governments, communities, pressure groups, political groups, local authorities, and the people in their immediate vicinity are all involved in this process.

There are many challenges and changes that may occur when there are a large number of stakeholders, such as a breakdown in communication and a broad array of competing interests, among others (Sage, Dainty, & Brookes, 2014). The communication and information flows between the governance and management groups, according to the charges, were uneven, particularly during the period leading up to the project’s expected launch date. Because of a lack of technical expertise, project management was insufficient, which resulted in the current situation. Management and public communication issues were developed on both ends of the spectrum as a result of the disparity in views between the different groups. Several significant (and, according to some, unnecessary) changes were implemented over the project’s duration, resulting in increased costs and time resources. For example, Sedlin, Beckmann, and Tan (2020) report that the board studied and discussed the construction of a two-story jet way for the Airbus A380. The project’s execution was complicated by variations or modification orders of this kind, enabling for exploitation while also increasing the project’s overall costs.

It was a collaborative effort between the local government and management in Brandenburg, the German federal government, the city of Berlin, various airlines and their customers, employees, and residents of Berlin, as well as the other large airports in the city, to develop a new mega airport in Berlin. The greater the number of parties involved, the more intricate the process gets, and the greater the amount of communication and change management work that is necessary. Furthermore, when it comes to most significant efforts, there are generally either one or a number of stakeholders that are glad if the project is a complete disaster. Several prominent players at Berlin’s other two airports (Tegel and Schonefeld) may be presumed to have benefited from the delays, and as essential stakeholders, their influence would have been detrimental.

3.3 Insufficient Testing to Ensure High Standards in Quality of Operations

The testing phase of the project involves the procedures that must be followed in order to guarantee that the things made work as planned (quality and performance feature). It is necessary to conduct extensive and thorough testing to acquire the desired results since insufficient testing leads in inferior goods when the testing is inadequate (Zidane et al., 2015). Testing should never be skipped throughout the course of a project. Quality assurance is a procedure for guaranteeing that the project’s product or service is free of faults, hence making life easier for everyone engaged in the project. Maintaining the integrity of the product or service, as well as building confidence in those who work with it, is a subset of quality management that focuses on ensuring that the company’s quality requirements are consistently met. As a result, it is essential in the management of project resources.

Because the terms quality assurance and quality control are frequently used interchangeably to refer to the management of a project’s product or service’s quality, the difference between the two terms is minor but significant. The difference is in the major attention placed on the project. It is more important to do quality assurance early in the project’s life cycle (Rezvani & Khosravi, 2019). As for assurance, it is concerned with ensuring that everything is done correctly and consistently throughout the project’s duration. Ascertain that the product or service achieves its goals by building a quality system to handle administrative and procedural tasks that are necessary to the attainment of the product or service’s objectives (Olatunji, 2018). Ensure that the product or service meets the needs of the customer. A standard may be used to measure and compare things in a systematic way, as well as process monitoring and a feedback loop, to guarantee that no mistakes occur during the manufacturing process. a standard may be used to measure and compare items in a systematic manner Quality control, on the other hand, is mainly concerned with what is produced as a result of the process.

Ongoing quality checks are planned throughout a project to review and ensure that the final output meets or exceeds the expectations of the customer. In a country that places such a high value on excellence and high-quality standards, the Berlin Airport project encountered significant quality issues, which was completely unexpected. There were more than 110,000 problems detected, with 74,000 of them being labeled as “serious” and around 10,000 being classified as “critical,” according to (Fiedler & Wendler, 2016). Critical problems included a non-functional fire suppression system, an alarm and security system which did not fulfill the international building standards, smoke extractors that were installed in the wrong locations, conducts that were not separated, and walls that were constructed with an insufficient fire resistance rating. Major modifications had to be planned in order to remedy the deteriorating state, leading to further delays in the project and going over the budget.

3.4 Poor Scope Definition

A project is more difficult to complete if the scope (for instance, the architecture, the objectives and functioning, the features and functions) is constantly changing. In the case of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport, the term scope creep best describes the large scope modifications. For example, crucial stakeholders requested that the designer to add north and south docks to the terminal building, transforming it from a rectangular shape to a “U” and drastically expanding the floor area, while building was in progress (Fiedler & Wendler, 2016). The stakeholders wanted to make the airport resemble a Dubai-style luxury mall, and requested for a second level full of stores, boutiques, and food courts that would be included into the original concept.

3.5 Communication Problems

According to a big research, effective communication is the most important factor in the success of a project. Another aspect of communication is the provision of reliable information about the project’s present status. Construction was underway at the time, and the city Mayor, who functioned as both sponsor and chairman of the supervisory board, was accused of acting as if nothing was wrong as the situation deteriorated. Failure to realize the seriousness of the situation contributed to the perception that nothing needed to be done to resolve the situation (Fiedler & Wendler, 2016). In the coming years, many CEOs were ousted from their roles. True project management requires the ability to deliver bad news to your team and confront it head-on when the situation calls for it.

3.6 Section Summary

In this section, it emerges that a combination of stakeholder involvement, poor collaboration, poor management, too many changes, a lack of communication, and poor standards for the project led to its failure, based on the criteria of delayed timeframe for delivery, poor performance, going over the cost, and inability to satisfy the stakeholders.

4.0 RecommendationsIn this section, each of the failure factors identified above will be provided with a recommendation to address it in a way that would have led a positive outcome.

4.1 Hiring Experienced Project Management TeamProject management consulting firms that have worked on a range of real-world projects are considered to be excellent. Long-term project managers who have worked on comparable projects for a long period of time use what they’ve learned from past projects to the present project they’re managing. Project managers, according to Sarkar and Singh (2020), help in finding qualified suppliers who can finish projects on time and at a reasonable cost, avoid common project problems, and offer cost-saving methods. The primary goal of a project manager is to provide high-quality service while staying under budget and completing the project on time. This ensures that the project manager does not have any conflicts of interest. The use of private consultants to assist in the construction of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport prevented the expensive blunders and change orders that sometimes arise when the government tries to operate a project on its own without sufficient project management skills on the ground (Geraldi & Stingl, 2016). For the Berlin Brandenburg Airport project to be successfully completed, a diverse group of consultants and contractors were brought on board, spanning from the design team through the general contractor and on to the specialist suppliers. They would have ensured that all project consultants were on the same page and focused on the project’s objectives.

4.2 Stakeholder Identification and AnalysisThere is no guarantee that all members of a particular group and its subgroups will agree on everything. Before engaging project’s stakeholders, identifying them is important, as well as the many groups and subgroups that comprise each of them. This kind of analysis entails a more in-depth examination of stakeholder group interests, how and to what extent they will be impacted, and the effect they may have on a project (Nyarirangwe & Babatunde, 2019). The answers to these questions will serve as the foundation for developing a plan for stakeholder engagement. This method would have identified all individuals who were be impacted by the Berlin Brandenburg Airport project, whether through land use, air and water pollution caused by off-site construction operations, or even economic benefits associated with new employment created throughout the supply chain. If a stakeholder analysis was conducted, the project would have gained a greater understanding of how its development would influence each stakeholder. This would have involved identifying groups who should have been encouraged to engage at various phases of the project, as well as approaches for mitigating unintended consequences and dealing with adverse stakeholders. The analysis would have aided in the early stages of the project’s development in creating a communication strategy and stakeholder management approach, as well as identifying possible roadblocks.

4.3 Sufficient Quality Assurance and TestingQuality assurance is one of the most important aspects in the management of a project, and it should not be taken lightly. Quality assurance is essential in a broad range of industries because it guarantees that a project achieves the highest possible standards at the time of completion (Lehtonen, 2019). Quality assurance is used in project management to aid firms in avoiding mistakes and limiting risk by identifying and eliminating potential problems. While keeping quality assurance in mind, project managers may begin planning for the overall quality of their outputs from the very beginning of their project plans. According to Nunes and Abreu (2020), quality assurance may be undertaken at any time throughout the lifecycle of a project. Making the effort to establish an excellent hiring structure may go a long way toward ensuring that only the finest and most qualified individuals are selected. Once this is completed, individual team members may do self-checks to ensure that their tasks are completed according to specified norms. Quality assurance monitoring with other departments and third-party organizations should have been part of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport project from the beginning. Because of this, all critical functions such as fire alarms and cabling should have been thoroughly tested before to deployment.

5.0 Summary of Analysis & Key RecommendationsThe Berlin Brandenburg Airport project failed to be completed within the set time frame, within the allocated budget, and the quality of the project was unsatisfactory. Other key criteria for success of the project used to determine this outcome included meeting of stakeholder goals fittingly, a measure that the project also failed to meet. Overall, Management and supervision by inexperienced and non-specialists, too many project stakeholders with variant interests and influence, insufficient testing to ensure high standards in quality of operations are the main factors that led to failure of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport project. It is recommended that the project should have used best practices in project management including performing a thorough stakeholder analysis, using project management teams, and conducting quality testing, control, and assurance at various stages.

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