Project Management Institute

Ready for kick-off



Savvy project management methods guaranteed that the IT network powering the Japan/Korea 2002 World Cup would be the ultimate winner.

While the Brazilian locker room at Japan's Yokohama Stadium fêted the team's victory in June's 2002 FIFA World Cup™, a very different team comprising technical specialists from Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and its major information technology (IT) partners celebrated its own World Cup triumph: the star performance of one of sporting history's most ambitious IT projects.

Involving more than 600 engineers and technicians, 20 different IT suppliers, 48 separate network nodes and two host countries with different languages and customs, FIFA's World Cup 2002 IT platform supported a vast array of essential services, including the game management system (visitor accreditation, volunteer management and protocol), World Cup Web site (, online results system (including the commentator information system and television graphics), media information system, support services (such as material and logistics, security and transportation), and even direct links to the event's computerized ticketing system.

When FIFA appointed Japan's Toshiba as its first official IT partner following unforeseen problems with a former supplier, implementation timescales were compressed from the usual three years to less than 12 months. At the same time, it established a comprehensive management and reporting hierarchy comprising an executive steering committee (IT-JM), top-level IT project manager body (IT-PMM), second-tier project management team and third-tier IT project team, each with its own clearly defined responsibilities.

With pressure to deliver a state-of-the-art solution and no flexibility whatsoever on delivery date, the key to success lay in planning, preparation and partnership, according to Gérard Gouillou, FIFA's Zurich, Switzerland-based head of IT projects. “Normally, each stakeholder has time to get to know how the others work, but for the Japan/Korea event this simply wasn't possible,” he says. “This time around, too, we faced the added challenge of building a solution that not only spanned two geographically distinct host countries, but important linguistic and cultural barriers.”

Charged with setting up and running the World Cup 2002 Project Management Office (PMO), the project management team effectively had hands-on responsibility for all project components, from cost, scope, resources and progress management to quality and risk management and coordination of project communications. The IT project team, meanwhile, undertook detailed project planning using commercial software and managed the complex web of interactions between smaller specialized FIFA project groups and project groups from major partners and suppliers. These collaborators included Avaya (networking equipment), Fuji/Xerox (printers), Korea Telecom and NTT (telecommunications services), and Yahoo! (Web site).

For simplicity, the project was divided into four broad phases:

Preparation included project definition, selection of specialist partners, development of system architecture, definition of user requirements (including gap analysis), procurement, software development and construction of the event Web site.

Deployment saw parallel installation of about 3,500 personal computers, 200 high-end servers, 2,300 mobile phones, 5,000 miles of cabling, and 300 switches and routers at 24 venues on both sides of the Korea Strait, along with rigorous ongoing testing of network and software components. This phase culminated in a grueling one-week round-the-clock dress-rehearsal involving live simultaneous simulations in Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe in Japan and Seoul, Incheon and Suwon in Korea.




FIFA partner Avaya monitored the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ network 24 hours a day, seven days a week from its remote diagnostics center in Singapore. Additional monitoring and after-hours support was provided by the company's Data Services Centers in Russia and the United States.

Event Operations were controlled by IT command centers in Yokohama and Seoul that powered local stadium systems and linked to the event's two international media centers and 18 local media centers. Together, these centers provided real-time online information to more than 11,000 international journalists and the centralized volunteer help desk system that served as a technical resource for the 2,000-plus Japanese and Korean IT on-site user support team.

De-installation overlapped with Event Operations so that equipment removed from venues after they had hosted their last matches could be dispatched and integrated into networks at the giant stadiums hosting the final-round games.

With so much happening so fast and zero slack in the schedule, Gouillou says strong lines of communication were crucial. Meeting schedules for the project management and IT project teams were determined ad hoc by the teams themselves. Both submitted detailed monthly status reports to the IT-PMM.

Monthly IT-PMM meetings, meanwhile, were made weekly as kick-off approached, eventually becoming the daily operations meeting for the duration of the event. Consistency of approach between Korean and Japanese implementations was assured through regular joint meetings of the national organizing committees, FIFA IT project teams, local partners and system integrators. Information exchange via e-mail was supplemented by a secure Web-based virtual project management tool containing content and comment from all project stakeholders. This site also included the project blueprint, implementation calendar, issue/ risk/action logs and a document repository.

As the World Cup's first official IT partner, Toshiba provided much of the project hardware and equipment installation, as well as groupware and specialized software solutions, such as the Hon-yaku translation system that was used to provide virtually instantaneous each-way Japanese/ English document translation, stringent computer-based security systems and a custom-built mobile office solution for the army of multilingual liaison staff appointed to travel with each national team. FIFA's need for 100 percent 24/7 service availability also meant earthquake-proof equipment racks, exceptionally high redundancy and a personal computer integration center at Tachikawa City to speed on-site installation and ensure configuration consistency via a comprehensive raft of pre-installation procedures.

Risk management—critical throughout the life of the project—was accorded top priority, with issues and risks proactively identified, evaluated and weighted according to the ABCD methodology, and then tracked on issue and risk logs. An issue was defined as any concern raised by a stakeholder, or any identified gap/overlap; a risk was an issue with high impact and a high likelihood of happening. While minor issues were handled via simple escalation through the project management hierarchy, any issue rated CC or higher was immediately transferred to the risk log, plotted on a bubble diagram to assess impact and rapidly controlled at the highest level necessary.

In the end, the same strategies employed by teams out on the field—meticulous preparation, hard work and international team spirit—also paid off for FIFA's World Cup IT project, with networks and applications performing faultlessly throughout every match of the month-long event.

With World Cup 2002 now under his belt, Gérard Gouillou already is looking ahead to 2006 in Germany, where his team once again will work with Toshiba to provide even more advanced event services. Further into the future, Gouillou says his dream is to use the power of IT to bring the chance of hosting a World Cup to developing countries. “By deploying systems based around satellites, the Internet and mobile [telecommunications], we could make a great contribution to our host country both in terms of economics and technology,” he says. PM

Sarah Parkes is a freelance journalist with more than 12 years experience in the telecom and IT sectors. Based in France, she is a regular contributor to a number of U.S. and European publications, including London's Financial Times.

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