Functional Failure in the Construction of the Scottish Parliament

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Simply defined, functional failure refers to the inability of a given project to meet its desired objectives. The failure can be universal or specific to a given component of the project. In the event of functional failure, there is need to carry out intensive internal and external analysis to determine the root cause of the challenge. A root cause analysis would then be appropriate in determining the value management techniques that ought to have been applied with a view to making the project a success (Kelly, Male and Graham, 2015). In the case of the construction of the Scottish Parliament Building, there was evidence of functional failure. Costing is an important function of the construction management process in any project. Failure to develop specific sets of costs in relation to the prevailing market trends led to constant increases in the project pricing, notwithstanding the fact that the budgeting process had been completed. This led to the project not being able to be completed to serve its purpose. Another element of functional failure is the evident incompetency of the persons recruited to undertake the project. For example, the contractor, Enric Miralles, failed to effectively develop a workable strategy towards ensuring that the project plan becomes implemented successfully. The complicated architecture significantly contributed to the functional failure in this project. This essay looks into how value management and its concepts could have been improved in order to reduce or eliminate the extent of functional failure in the construction of the Scottish Parliament. Indeed, the argument takes into account some of the innovative approaches that could have been applied with a view to ensuring that the projects becomes functionally successful.

Costing forms a critical component of value management. According to King (2015), cost management is necessary in order to ensure that the projects stays within the realm of realistic projections and implementations. Due to poor value management with regards to cost analysis, the construction of the Scottish Parliament did not live to see the light of the day. Accumulation of costs saw into the total cost of delays leading to £80 million. To ensure that such incidents did not occur, an appropriate value management strategy improvement would have been to incorporate strategies in addition to contemporary concepts such as agility. Whereas it would have been important to take into consideration concepts and strategies such as the FAST and Cost-benefit Analysis (CBA), there would have been the need to apply principles of agility to make the project responsive and dynamic. Economic trends are major external influencing factors towards the functional success or failure of a project. Thiry (2015) advocates for the incorporation of agility into any project or organizations with a view to making the operations adaptable to any unforeseeable challenges. The functional failure in the construction of the Scottish Parliament could have been blamed on the lack of incorporation of agility concepts into the management of the project. For example, by choosing the location, various factors, including the demographic characteristics should have been taken into account, leading to reduced costs of evacuation (Kerzner, 2009). Failure to take note of this led to the project incurring additional costs that were not initially budgeted for. By incorporating agility concepts into the value management strategy chosen, the functional failure observed would have been mitigated (Lamb, 2015).

To ensure that value management successfully oversees the undertaking of a project, all the process involving costs must be analyzed at each stage. According to Oke and Aigbavboa (2017), value control remains the epicenter of functional success in any project. The case of Scottish Parliament constructions is a clear indication of failure to carry out periodic assessments to determine the slacks and areas of success. The authors advocate for value control mechanisms as an approach towards ensuring that the project does not swerve from the predetermined budgetary constraints (Oke and Aigbavboa, 2017). The construction of the parliament went through periodic accumulations of costs and other financial factors that could not be sustained. Consequently, the construction realized a functions failure to deliver on its objectives. Despite blames being directed to the contractor and the engineers, there was not enough done with regards to value control.

Sustainable value management is a new concept in value management that seeks to utilize the available resources accordingly to ensure that project goals and objectives are achieved. (Abidin, 2015) The fact that Enric Miralles designed a very complex plan for the Parliament Building meant that more advanced techniques and lots of resources had to be invested into the project. Given the uncertainty of the scope of the project, functional failure more and more imminent as the project progressed. Sustainable value management seeks to minimize costs by effectively utilizing financial, human and time resources. Therefore, it would have been appropriate to apply the concept of sustainable value management to save on costs and time allocation for the project tasks (Cobb, 2011).

In conclusion, agility, value control and sustainable value management are concepts that could have been incorporated to prevent functional failure in the construction of the Scottish Parliament. Coupled with strategies such as CBA and FAST, the project would have realized lower cost accumulations. In addition, sustainable value management concepts would have led to minimization of wastages of resources such as labor and time, ensuring that the project becomes successful.


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Abidin, N.Z. (2015). Using Value Management to Improve the Consideration of Sustainability within Constructions. Available at [Accessed on: April 9, 2018]

Cobb, C. G. (2011). Making sense of agile project management: Balancing control and agility. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Kelly, J., Male, S., and Graham, D. (2015). Value management of construction projects.

Kerzner, H. (2009). Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.

King, B. (2015). The Importance of Developing Appropriate Frameworks to ensure Project Success. COMET. Available at [Accessed on: April 9, 2018]

Lamb, J. (2015). Agility takes lead in Project Management. Available at [Accessed on: April 9, 2018]

Oke, A.E. and Aigbavboa, C.O. (2017). Chapter 2: The Concept of Value Management. In Sustainable Value Management for Construction Projects. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-54151-8_2

Thiry, M. (2015). Agility is not just for projects: crafting the agile organization. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2015—EMEA, London, England. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

January 19, 2024

Business Economics Life

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