Northern Ireland: ahead of the game or should I say Games?
Whilst the buzz word of the Olympics is legacy I argue that in Northern Ireland the idea of lasting benefit is an almost intuitive concept for project managers.
Northern Ireland is a small place. Belfast has a population of approximately 270,000 compared with Cardiff (325,000) and Edinburgh (450,000). The potential client base is therefore small when compared to other regional capitals and as such reputation for project managers is everything. As part of ensuring a good reputation a project manager must have good people skills and good planning skills but must also ensure that a project is fully functional for long after the dust has settled on a project. Whilst a project initially seen as a success will result in good credence for a project manager one that, after time, shows itself to be inadequate will soon result in negative word of mouth. In small places a fall in reputation can be disastrous; as such a project must be seen through to assess the impact on community or fitness for purpose long after the handover.
There is also the issue of geographical distance. The view from afar allows Northern Ireland's project managers to benefit from being able to see the effects of work in other cities. Cardiff in particular. Therefore it is easy for a project manager to see the effects of other similar projects in other areas and see how these have left an impact on the community. Project managers here are reaping the benefits of others experience.
The opening of the Titanic Quarter highlights to the community its cultural heritage. Business growth has been encouraged at the former gas works. Leisure pursuits are improved by the River Lagan Corridor Project together with the Giants Park development. By this variety in regeneration Belfast can benefit by appealing to a high number and variety of people, not just in one aspect of their lives but in any number. Managing legacy in projects therefore becomes about different aspects of peoples lives.
Of course Belfast is aware of its constituent communities perhaps more so than other UK capital cities. This makes project managers already aware of their community and its makeup, meaning that they are already conscious of how their decisions and behaviour affects others and in turn the success of their projects.
So whilst Northern Ireland may be relatively untouched by the Olympics there is, perhaps, something the Olympic legacy people can take from Northern Ireland.