The risks were high, but the project was successful

By Alison Smith, Administration Manager, Project Agency


I live in Haringey where  there is a Community Garden that is run by local residents. It was built in 2002 to not only be an oasis in a busy part of London, but also as a crime prevention measure. This year was the 10th Birthday of the grand opening and we had to decide how best to celebrate this.

Initially we had hoped to build a beach in the Community Garden, with the street acting as an Edwardian pier. This idea had to be shelved when the cost of the Haringey on Sea rock alone was priced at £1400. So what would the alternative be and how could this be delivered?

During a planning meeting various ideas were brainstormed, and after filtering down the options it was decided that we would build a village green in the street, with a putting green at the centre of a busy crossroad. The other item that had to be included was an outdoor film in the evening of the celebration day.

Kids enjoying the community day

The key issues that needed to be addressed were; the need for a detailed plan, with appropriate costings to allow for this project to bid for funding. The plans were made and bids submitted, but time after time the bids were unsuccessful. With a large funding deficit how could this project proceed? This is aside from the various risk factors of weather, volunteers, logistics, licences and other matters that had to be monitored and controlled.

Haringey Council had been in contact with residents regarding a community streets project, and were planning to hold a large consultation day 2 weeks after the birthday event, so it seemed to make sense to try to merge the 2 events into a single event. This was discussed and the date was moved to accommodate a joint event.

As the project progressed it was agreed that some of the expense could be shared by the consultation programme, but there was still a lack of funding for the evening film. There was also a really crucial issue of what would happen to all the turf required to build the village green and putting green, because without an option of this being reused, the turfing idea could not be considered.

Everything hung in the balance on these two key issues……but sometimes preparation meets opportunity. Our project manager solved the situation.  Through some thorough research he was able to determine that the local park would take  the turf post event, and another park which had donated their funding to this event.

With the two key issues resolved, a Gantt Chart was drawn up with specific costs, dates for achievement of key tasks (milestones), and the securing of the people power to cover the relevant tasks (through a RACI chart).

The one area that could not be planned for was that of the weather. What would happen if there was heavy rain, or it was too cold for the evening film? Some of the afternoon events could be helped with the use of gazebo’s, but if it rained in the evening, then the film would have to be postponed on safety grounds. This is besides the practicalities of trying to lay turf and then remove this if it was wet.

I am pleased to say that following strict deadlines, monitoring any changes and controlling of the budget, and suitable weather (yes, we controlled that too!) meant that the day was a complete success.  Hundreds of people came throughout the day and group picnics were held on the green in the sunshine.


There were lots of issues that could have easily derailed this project, but the project manager kept a watchful eye on the project, and delivered it on time. We identified and managed the risks. My question to you is how do you manage your high risk projects to ensure that you can deliver successfully?

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One Response to The risks were high, but the project was successful

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