PPMP20014 Complex Project Management

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PPMP20014 Complex Project Management

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PPMP20014 Complex Project Management

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Course Code: PPMP20014
University: Central Queensland University

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Country: Australia

Case study for BP and the Deepwater Horizon accident of 2010.  Using this case study as an example please use the introduction to Terry Cooke-Davies’ book Aspects of Complexity to explain why the Deepwater Horizon accident could have been thought of as a complex project ?


Complex Project
Managing of the project is an important aspect for delivering the project in a proper way. However, the type and nature of the project plays significant role in managing the project. On the basis of the diversity, the project can be complex and complicated. However, there is a certain amount of difference between the complex project and complicated project (King et al.,2015). There are significant amount of uncertainty related to the complex project, where as in complicated project the modules of the project are interconnected with each other  and the changes in one module will effect another module. In this study the discussion is related about the  incident related to the Deep Water Horizon. There are different aspects of the project which indicates the complexity of the project. The discussion in this paper will gather the relevant information regarding mentioned project that will indicate the complexity of the project.
Deepwater Horizon accident is also known as the BP oil spill. The explosion took place at Deep water horizon rig at Gulf of Mexico, approximately, 5000 ft under the water. Deep water Horizon was owned by Transocean and leased by oil company BP. The accident took place as the natural gas busted through the concrete wall.
The aspects of the project that indicate the complexity of the project:
According to Terry Cooke-Davies’ book Aspects of Complexity, the complexity of the project indicates the uncertainty in the outcome of the project. The complexity of the project also merges the concept of human understanding (Incardona et al.,2014) . In this case, the disaster in Deep water Horizon case indicates that there was lack of communication in the system. The engineers at onshore was aware about the bad condition of the concrete at the rig. However, they did not inform that information to the higher authority. The management was unaware about the situation and did not take any necessary steps for the improvisation of the system.
The miscommunication between the staffs and the higher authority in Deepwater Horizon case is the main cause of the incident (Rodriguez et al.,2015).  Apart from that the incident was unexpected for everyone which indicates the uncertainty in the outcome of the project. This aspect of Deepwater Horizon project indicates that it is a complex project management.
Deepwater Horizon was related to the offshore oil drilling. This business quires more responsibility and monitoring. Lack of monitoring can bring the possibility of the accident. In this case, the lack of monitoring and control of the entire operation has caused the incident. Apart from that BP is the 6th largest oil company. In this case Deepwater Horizon is a large project.
One of the most important feature of complex project management is that all the modules present in the project are inter related to each other. The changes in one model can change the operations of other models and sometimes the consequences and outcome can be diverted due to this change. The operation of the Deepwater Horizon rig was running in smooth manner. However, lack of monitoring and the communication gap between the workers and the management of the organization had led to the happening of the accident.
Another aspect of management of the complex project involves the proper business planning of the project. Without any proper business plan the complex project will be failed in certain cases. Apart from that the evaluation of the risk management is needed to be done on the basis of the possible issues and the problem (Wade et al.,2016). The proper assessment of the risk will help in the analysis of the risk. Certain mitigation plan can be derived from the analysis of the risk.  Without proper risk management plan there is a possibility that the incidents like Deepwater Horizon may happen.
After the investigation and evaluation of the causes of the accident of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill several factors have been highlighted which are related to the planning of the business and assessment of risks. Some of these factors are:

The equipment and the tools needed to carry on the entire operation was developed within short period of time (Joye, 2015).Moreover, there was no specific planning involved in the entire process. There was no proper human resource management plan. This made the communication between the different hierarchy of the organization difficult.
There was no tradition risk assessment report  for the project (Atlas et al.,2015).The assessment of the risk was not done in a proper way and the existing plan was not suitable for the dynamic nature of the project. This also led to the absence of the mitigation plan for the management of the disaster in the development of the project.
There was communication gap in the entire process.

Consequences Deepwater Horizon oil spill:
The oil is considered as the valuable asset in present day. In this situation the incident of the Deepwater Horizon case caused the BP a huge loss as a large amount of oil was wasted in the incident. The project management groups in other organization is becoming aware about the handling of the complex project management after this incident (Hu et al.,2017). The importance of the risk planning is done as it has been observed that the result of failing of the complex project is always complex. During the investigation the BP submitted the paper about the happening of the incident (Mills & Koliba,2015). It has been found that many of the people were associated with the functionality of the different modules of the project. The investigation indicates that almost all the people in the work force and managerial level were responsible for the incident.
The complex project management has different aspects which makes it different form the other types of projects. The managing of the complex project needs the proper business planning and the assessment of the risk management plan. However, there are certain difference between complicated project and complex project. The outcome of the complex project is uncertain. In case of Deepwater Horizon, the managing of the whole rig was a complex project as different modules in the project were interrelated to each other. Apart from that the lack of knowledge sharing and monitoring were primary reasons for the happening of the incident. Evaluation of various aspects of this incident indicates that the Oil spill of Deepwater Horizon was a complex project.
Atlas, R. M., Stoeckel, D. M., Faith, S. A., Minard-Smith, A., Thorn, J. R., & Benotti, M. J. (2015). Oil biodegradation and oil-degrading microbial populations in marsh sediments impacted by oil from the deepwater horizon well blowout. Environmental science & technology, 49(14), 8356-8366.
Hu, P., Dubinsky, E. A., Probst, A. J., Wang, J., Sieber, C. M., Tom, L. M., … & Andersen, G. L. (2017). Simulation of Deepwater Horizon oil plume reveals substrate specialization within a complex community of hydrocarbon degraders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(28), 7432-7437.
Incardona, J. P., Gardner, L. D., Linbo, T. L., Brown, T. L., Esbaugh, A. J., Mager, E. M., … & Tagal, M. (2014). Deepwater Horizon crude oil impacts the developing hearts of large predatory pelagic fish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201320950.
Joye, S. B. (2015). Deepwater Horizon, 5 years on. Science, 349(6248), 592-593.
King, G. M., Kostka, J. E., Hazen, T. C., & Sobecky, P. A. (2015). Microbial responses to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: from coastal wetlands to the deep sea. Annual review of marine science, 7, 377-401.
Mills, R. W., & Koliba, C. J. (2015). The challenge of accountability in complex regulatory networks: The case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Regulation & Governance, 9(1), 77-91.
Rodriguez-r, L. M., Overholt, W. A., Hagan, C., Huettel, M., Kostka, J. E., & Konstantinidis, K. T. (2015). Microbial community successional patterns in beach sands impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The ISME journal.
Wade, T. L., Sericano, J. L., Sweet, S. T., Knap, A. H., & Guinasso Jr, N. L. (2016). Spatial and temporal distribution of water column total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) from the Deepwater Horizon (Macondo) incident. Marine pollution bulletin, 103(1-2), 286-293.

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