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Collaboration within Megaprojects

Projects across the globe range in size and value. While some projects are focused within local communities, some projects are extremely large-scale international investments. Although the fundamentals of project management apply to most plans, a project’s size is likely to translate into a number of factors that influence the way we perform project management. Project management and managers often have to evolve their skills to reflect the sheer size of the project they are working on. Large-scale, or ‘megaprojects’ that are under-development all around the world all rely on the ability of project managers to collaborate with a wide variety of people, companies, industries and countries in order to achieve the desired outcome.

A megaproject is defined as a project that costs more than $1 billion, and these tend to attract a lot of public attention due to their substantial impacts on communities, environments and budgets. These developments commonly include aerospace projects, rail projects, bridge and tunnel projects, science projects, spaceflight projects, planned cities and urban renewal projects. The size and cost of these projects draw large amount of attention to their successes and failures. Such developments give project managers a huge amount of responsibility and pressure.

One project that is currently under development is the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project. This megaproject is perhaps one of the most ambitious in the world. The project is a state-sponsored industrial development project of the Government of India, with a forecasted cost of $100 billion. The project is aimed at developing industrial zones spanning across six states in India. The objectives of the project are to spur the economic development in the region and develop a number of different industries. It is the biggest infrastructure project that India has attempted throughout its history.

In order to build smart cities and industrial areas along with rail, road, port and air connectivity, the project will need to encompass and collaborate with a number of different industries. Developing all of these major industry areas will need excellent and continuous communication between managers, architects and developers. The fact that each of these industries is being developed between six different states only increases the project management challenges.

International collaboration must also be taken into consideration when hypothesising the success of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project. To kick-start the implementation phase of the project, Japan has contributed $9 billion in funding to support the early stages. As major investors, project managers are obliged to collaborate continually with Japan as the project develops. Foreign investment means crucial funding for many megaprojects under development around the world. By efficiently communicating with foreign investors, megaprojects can continue to run without the threat of funding being pulled or budgets being cut. This is a mistake that many projects have made in the past.

The urbanisation of India has been apparent over the past couple of decades. The statistics are expected to show that 40.76% of Indians will be living in urban areas by 2030, up from 31.16% in 2011. Such urbanisation will cause huge stress in the cities, which are already suffering under poor infrastructure support. The new world-class cities being developed will be superior to the current cities, and their development will provide employment to three million Indian nationals. Successful projects rely on collaboration and communication with those that the projects aim to support. Understanding the needs of the Indian people throughout this project is just as crucial as collaborating and communicating with others within the project delivery team itself.

While many factors will contribute to the success of a megaproject, collaboration is relied upon heavily. No project is an island – project managers will seek both internal and external means and services in order for a project to succeed. A megaproject that does not collaborate with a wide variety of people and organisations is likely to fail.