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Project Management Assignment: Success & Failure of Adelaide Desalination Plant


Task: You are required to prepare a 1600 word report on project management assignment in which you are to analyze the success and failure factors of a major Australian project “Construction of the Adelaide Desalination Plant” by considering its ethical compromises.


The Adelaide Desalination Project (ADP) selected in the present context of project management assignment is the largest infrastructure project to be completed in South Australia. The project was initiated with a goal of building a long-term, cost-efficient and sustainable infrastructure for the supply of potable water to the city of Adelaide. The city of Adelaide is often faced with the problem of water scarcity especially during the season of droughts and the residents of the city have trouble navigating through those days. Hence, this project was considered for addressing this issue. Initially, the project was considered with a plant with capacity of 50 billion litres of water per annum. However, the capacity of the plant was increased to be 100 billion litres per annum.

Location of the ADP in project management assignment

Figure: Location of the ADP.
(Source:, 2020)

Critical Factors for Success and Failure
The Adelaide Desalination Project (ADP) is a major project of SA Water, a state owned firm of the Australian government. The project had several critical factors for success and failure that had a deep impact on the project. The success of the project depends on a number of factors that contributed to the development in the project.

  • Project Goals: The ADP was aimed to tackle the problem of water scarcity in the Australian city of Adelaide especially during the drought seasons. The project was aimed to build a plant with a capacity of production of 100 billion litres of desalinated water per annum, which is about 50% of the drinking water requirement of the city. Thus, the project would benefit more than 1 million inhabitants of the city (, 2020).
  • Project Scope: The ADP was initiated for solving the water scarcity problems in Adelaide, however, the project had a wide scope that includes a reverse osmosis desalination plant, marine works, transfer pumping station, pipelines works, power supply infrastructure, preliminary and ancillary site works and land development. Thus the wide scope of the project proved to be a critical factor for the success of the project (, 2020).
  • Design: The project was designed to have minimum impact on the marine and terrestrial environment of the adjoining areas of the plant. Moreover, the operations of the plant are energy efficient both during minimum and maximum production phases. The plant has minimal impact on the local residential community and this is a major critical factor for success of the project (Liu et al., 2018).
  • Added Benefits: The ADP is associated with some added benefits such as the energy recovery process of the plant that uses pressure energy to draw greater amount of seawater and supply RO at a higher pressure, which leads to saving of 45% of the RO pumping energy and more than 24000 kW of energy can be saved when the plant operates at full capacity. The process is associated with some critical pitfalls that could have led to the failure of the project.
  • Project Budget: The project had a budget of 1.842 billion approved by the government owned agency SA Water (, 2020). The project was on a tight budget and was delivered within the budget by the contractors. The failure to deliver the project within the budget would have been a severe pitfall from the project management point of view.
  • Project Schedule: The ADP was scheduled to be completed and operational by 31 December 2012 (, 2020). However, the project was delivered nearly 19 days ahead of the schedule and this was a massive advantage to the stakeholders of the project. The failure of completion of the project within the stipulated time could have been a major challenge to the project management teams.
  • Lack of Strategic Advantage: The project was aimed at supplying clean potable to the residents of the Australian city of Adelaide and the development of the water supply management systems of the area. The project has proven to be a key strategic element of the water supply plan for the area for a long-term basis (Liu et al., 2018). The lack of this strategic advantage could have caused the failure of the project.
  • Negative Impact on Environment: The ADP is recorded to have a least amount of impact on the local marine and terrestrial environment at the site of location of the plant. The intake and outfall systems of the plant are especially designed for this purpose (, 2020). The negative environmental impact of the project would have led to the failure of the project since the project goal of building a sustainable plant would not have been fulfilled.

IPECC Stages
IPECC is a popular model for project management and is used in case of projects of all types and sizes. The IPECC model has 5 stages that are as follows:

1. Initiating: During this phase, the project that seems feasible is chosen and a project team is created. The project manager is appointed and the stakeholders are identified. The project charter and the project scope statement are made during this stage (Sholarin and Awange, 2015). The success criteria during this stage is the creation of the project charter and scope statement correctly and the failure criteria is the wrong appointment of the project team who are unable to work in coordination.

2. Planning: During this stage, the project management plan is created. The plan has several key items such as project scope, schedule, budget, staffing plan, work breakdown structure, procurement plan, risk management plan, change management plan, and communication management plan of the project. The success criteria in this stage is the degree to which the plan is articulate in giving an overview of the project. The failure criteria in this stage is the lack of detailing in the plan.

3. Executing: This stage involves the implementation of the activities and operations that have been laid out in the project plan. The work of the project is performed in this stage. The progress is recorded in this stage and the project plan is updated. The success criteria in this stage is the proper execution of the project plan as close as possible to what has been planned in advance as evident in case of ADP (Ettehadet al., 2017). The failure criteria in this stage is the lack of coordination among the workers.

4. Controlling: In this stage, the project status information is collected from the team members and the variances are identified and the status reports are made that evaluate the overall performance of the project. Variances are often defined in terms of project scope, schedule and resource utilization. The success criteria of this stage is the timely identification of the variances in the project work. The failure criteria is the failure to stick to the change management plan that was devised previously.

5. Closing: In this stage, the completed project is delivered to the customer or the client. In case of ADP the project was delivered to SA Water 19 days before the deadline and this is a major advantage to the contractor firms. The criteria in this stage is the timely delivery of the project that meets the expectations of the customer.

Ethical Considerations
The ethical considerations are an important part of the overall project management aspect of the ADP. The different stages of the IPECC model are associated with the ethical considerations that have been described below:

1. Initiating: During this stage, the project has its inception and it is readily started after the appointment of the project team and the project manager. The project charter and the project scope statement are prepared during this stage so it is imperative that the project scope aligns with the ethics policy of the firm. Moreover, the project scope must be in accordance with the organisational goals and objectives (Gonzalez and Gergawy, 2019).

2. Planning: This is arguably the most important stage of the project where all the planning regarding the project is done. The project management plan is prepared in this step that provides a view of the project. Hence, in this step the ethical considerations are especially important because it would lay the guideline for the application of these ethical considerations in the project. The failure to do this may lead to a negative impact on the project (Blesing and Pelekani, 2015).

3. Executing: The integration of the ethical considerations is extremely important since during this stage the actual work is carried out for the project. The project work must be carried out in compliance with the ethics policy and the ethics framework that has been laid out by the project management plan prepared in the previous stage. The ethics policy should be clearly defined to the workers for ensuring project success (Berenguel-Feliceset al., 2020).

4. Controlling: In this stage, the project status is reviewed and consequently the project status report is made. Hence, during this stage, the ethics compliance of the project work is inspected and if any discrepancy is found the certain control measures are taken. Hence, the implication of the ethics is severe in this stage.

5. Closing: During this stage, the completed project is handed over to the customer. The ethics compliance is of special importance in this stage since the customers would inspect if the ethics considerations have been upheld during the project. It is imperative to meet the expectations of the customers and hence the ethics considerations are to be given much importance in this stage of the project.

The ADP is a major part of the water supply infrastructure of the city of Adelaide and hence the success of the project is reflected in this. It is the largest infrastructure project in South Australia and hence the project was a prestigious one. The successful delivery of the project can be attributed to the critical factors of success and failure. The different stages of the IPECC model had different success and failure factors and the ethical considerations were fundamental in shaping the project and its success. ?

References, 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 December 2020]. Berenguel-Felices, F., Lara-Galera, A. and Muñoz-Medina, M.B., 2020.Requirements for the construction of new desalination plants into a framework of sustainability.Sustainability, 12(12), p.5124. Blesing, J.E. and Pelekani, C., 2015. Seawater desalination-a sustainable solution to world water shortage Adelaide Desalination Plant. In 3rd ASEAN Australian Engineering Congress (AAEC 2015): Australian Engineering Congress on Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Development and Renewable Energy (p. 17). Engineers Australia., 2020.Adelaide Desalination Plant. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 December 2020]., 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 December 2020]., 2020.Adelaide Desalination Plant | EPA. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 December 2020].

Ettehad, E., McKay, J. and Keremane, G., 2017. Concept of public interest in the Adelaide Desalination Plant delivery: lessons for public policy makers on improving social justice. Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives, p.54.

Gonzalez, J.A. and Gergawy, G.R.G., 2019. Adelaide desalination plant process improvements in operation. In WEC2019: World Engineers Convention 2019 (p. 1858). Engineers Australia.

Liu, T.K., Weng, T.H. and Sheu, H.Y., 2018. Exploring the environmental impact assessment commissioners' perspectives on the development of the seawater desalination project.Desalination, 428, pp.108-115., 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 December 2020].

Sholarin, E.A. and Awange, J.L., 2015. Broad Framework for Environmental Project Management.In Environmental Project Management (pp. 93-107).Springer, Cham.

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