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Network for the dissemination of knowledge on the management and organisation of large infrastructure projects in Europe

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In the White Paper: Time to decide (2001), the EU addresses the need for a Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). To create the TEN-T, the EC has invested in the construction of several 'Large infrastructure projects' (LIPs). Yet the EC has limited possibilities for forecasting and monitoring the effectiveness of these projects: it is unclear which elements in the management and organisation influence the LIPs success. Active European development and knowledge exchange is scarce. The NETLIPSE project intends to set up a network for the growing demand for knowledge and that allows the projects to benefit from the experiences of other projects. During the research, lessons learnt and best practices were formulated for each of the themes investigated. From the overall analysis of all best practices then the overall conclusions are formulated. Some conclusions are: 1. Large similarities in best practises and lessons learnt. Netlipse research shows that although the investigated projects are executed in very different contexts, the identified best practices show large similarities. Apparently large infrastructure projects in Europe are facing similar challenges. This makes an international comparison and knowledge exchange both interesting and practically fruitful. 2. Integration of scope and objectives is most effective. With respect to goals and objectives, based on Netlipse findings it is possible to state that projects must be conceived, managed and operated as an integrated whole, with the prime purpose being the user and economic benefits derived from a new or improved transport link, rather than the completion of a physical project as an end in itself. Where the success of the outputs depends on operational interfaces as well as infrastructure construction, these must be managed from the outset and integrated into the programme management of the whole project. 3. Address and manage checks and balances within the project organisation. In major projects there is a fine balance to be drawn between the need for control and constructive interaction between the parties. Strong control helps to prevent purpose and scope creep. Constructive interaction can help projects to accept new an often external changes or delivery methodology. These changes might potentially improve the project outputs, reduce costs or speed up the project delivery. 4. Promote an open culture with stakeholders. Regarding stakeholder management Netlipse found in many cases that an open culture within and between project organisations and with external parties and stakeholders is critical to the smooth progression of a scheme. The communication between the client/sponsor and the project delivery organisation is of paramount importance, both on a formal and on an informal basis. This open culture leads to successful implementation and the joint ownership and management of emerging project problems. Clear contracts are essential but must be supported by joint solutions if the end outputs of the project are not to be compromised. This is true, irrespective of whether partners are public or private. 5. Be careful with experiments. Large infrastructure projects offer a challenging playing field for innovations, such as new technologies or contract arrangements. However, new technologies have a higher risk profile and need to be managed according to the specific needs of the project or as an innovation. Research showed that ideally they should be managed as separate projects or sub-projects, however this is often not the case. Several of the projects studied ran into difficulties in terms of cost and schedule because the outputs were dependent on the smooth delivery of innovation. It appeared that the management of the innovation had not been given priority at an early enough date or that independent organisations had been responsible for delivery of the innovation. In such cases, interactions between the various work streams appeared not to have been properly managed.

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