What should Multiplex do now at Wembley?

Project manager Terry Chapman, formerly of Schal, has masterminded a number of high-profile projects in the UK and abroad, including the redevelopment of the Broadgate centre at Liverpool Street Station. Here he gives his take on what Multiplex should be doing to save Wembley and turn around its UK reputation

Wembley was always going to present Multiplex with challenges, as it was a unique design. Using bespoke design solutions always carries risk, and Multiplex would have identified many of its challenges from the outset. But as you move forward on a project like this, a number of surprises can be thrown up. That’s happened to Multiplex, but the company now needs to move forward and turn the situation around.

The first thing it will have to do is perform a cost assessment to see how it can mitigate damages. It needs to determine whether it will cost less to accelerate the project by upping working hours than it will lose if the project delivers a huge overrun.

There may be other factors involved in this: the Wembley site is in a residential area so there are probably some constraints on working hours, but the option needs to be considered as Multiplex needs to find the optimum solution to complete its contract.

Multiplex will also need to talk to the client about the possibility of a partial opening of the stadium. It may be better to have the majority of the stadium ready for the FA cup final, even if some facilities remain closed, than to delay the entire opening.

Multiplex will have to meet its trade contractors. Any scheme that has big losses and overruns inevitably brings tensions within the supply chain, but these can be mitigated through proper dialogue.

As to whether Multiplex should make any changes among its own staff on the project, I don’t know the people involved so it’s difficult to comment.

It’s not unusual to change key people in the team when a project moves from the steel envelope stage to the fit-out stage, as it’s often useful to employ a different skills set.

At the moment Multiplex is by its own admission facing sizeable problems. But if it can pull the situation off from now on, and can hit what it is forecasting, then it will regain a lot of respect. That could prove a big feather in Multiplex’s cap when it is seeking future work in the UK. But the company needs to move fast to achieve it.