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What Can Troubles with the 2014 World Cup Teach Project Managers?

Since winning the rights to host the 2014 World Cup back in 2007, Brazil have been attempting to prove their effectiveness at eventually pulling off the sporting extravaganza, showing off the country in all its glory and getting everything up and running without a hitch. What has occurred, however, hasn’t exactly been the seamless feat of large-scale project management that everyone was hoping for and, with many aspects of preparations falling behind schedule and budgets being eaten up by failures across the board, how useful is the World Cup as a case study for project managers?

Creating effective schedules and sticking to them is one of the basic skills project managers must learn in order to avoid cases, such as this one, of projects falling behind, companies disappointing clients and teams increasing the chance of the outright failure. With the 2014 World Cup, the issue of several stadiums remaining unfinished has become a huge concern for investors and the government and, as more and more deadlines have failed to be met, finding a solution to the problem of bad structuring, budgeting and time management is becoming more and more urgent in the run up to the summer start date.

Time delays cost money, and it must be considered that this may be money that the project cannot afford to spend in the long run. Running over schedule almost always leads to running over budget in addition to other potentially serious problems, and this duo of disadvantages when moving forwards can mean a project manager is often fighting an uphill, if not a losing, battle. The fact is, however, that projects are always going to run into little mishaps and problems along the way, and it is the project manager’s job to keep things on track as much as humanly possible if problems do threaten the otherwise smooth running of things.

When this doesn’t happen, projects can easily veer dramatically off course, and delays to construction work and other ventures in the run up to the World Cup demonstrate how detrimental this can be to the overall reputation of a company, organisation or project team. With the 2014 sporting event taking place in 12 cities across a country as large as some continents, the size of the project was always daunting and hard to imagine in practical terms, but the lengthy delays that are now threatening to affect the June opening may well have occurred, or at least been allowed to occur, because of failures in various project management duties.

These include slow decision making and major delays in meeting promised deadlines, meaning in some cases that work on stadiums and transport links has had to be cancelled altogether. This has left the people of Brazil dissatisfied and disillusioned by the seemingly askew priorities of those responsible for the World Cup projects, with priority given to stadiums over structures with more long-term benefits, such as subways and airports. This has resulted in resistance from anti-government protestors, who were active at a warm-up tournament last year and are expected to pose an issue again in June.

All of this has been disastrous for the reputation of the company and, should the eventual tournament be marred by the same problems and issues (or new ones), more problems could be on their way. A friendly match between Brazil and England scheduled for last December, for example, had to be cancelled due to safety concerns related to the construction and refurbishment of Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium – just one of the venues planned to be used for the tournament this summer. With money still being spent and a real danger of stadiums not being completed on time, project management has come under fire in a big way.

Scheduling and time management is a huge part of the project manager’s role in things and, although all projects can pose their own problems in terms of keeping things to deadline and completing tasks on time, the failures in Brazil have become a problem big enough to possibly result in failure in certain areas of the country’s massive undertaking. To avoid this, project managers must have the knowledge and skills to keep projects running smoothly, especially ones on this scale, and one way they can acquire these skills is by undergoing project management training courses such as PRINCE2 from ILX.