One thing that is common in all construction projects, irrespective of scope, size, or budget, is that all of them undergo numerous changes and revisions. With complexity and uncertainty synonymous to the industry, managing these changes through all the phases of the project becomes a very challenging process.
What are these changes?
Changes occur for various reasons in construction projects, the most common being changes in specifications, design, or execution itself.
While in some cases the client requirements are not clearly defined at the beginning of the project, in other cases designers miss certain details or erroneously overlook practical implications. Sometimes it is neither of these cases and instead, the site conditions or execution strategy leave the team with no option but to go back to the drawing board to figure out solutions.
In construction, schedules never account for any buffer for changes or errors that could, scratch that, ALWAYS have an impact on the project timeline. Hence, it is no surprise that construction projects till date continue to run in time and cost overruns.
Why are there constant revisions?
No clarity of work – A lack of common understanding of value
With issues in communication and collaboration among the stakeholders, there is generally a lack of clarity on what can create value for the project. Without a common goal, there is disruption in the flow of work between various trades, amounting to immense waste and loss of value in the process.
Not acting at the right time – A lack of planning and predicting Risks
Projects are planned based on assumptions and incomplete information. While this might seem harmless at first, the lack of accurate forecasting has very harmful impacts as the project progresses. The change to impact curve is of great relevance here; sooner you can accommodate changes, lesser is the impact generally on project delivery. Delayed actions lead to consecutive issues getting piled up and ultimately turning into unresolved critical problems.
Wasting time in processing information
Time is wasted in reporting on changes or revisions, communicating them to the concerned stakeholder, and then working on arriving at a solution. By the time the solution is implemented, there are considerable delays on the job site impacting the sequence of works to follow as well.
How to deal with them?
Changes usually involve an elaborate process of identification, reporting, and assessment, after which decisions are taken to develop and deploy optimal solutions. While the implementation of changes and solutions might be efficient, the overall processes involved in managing these revisions matter the most.
Decision-making is critical
Arranging a weekly collaborative meeting paves way for clear communication and hence, reliable decision-making. Co-location, physically or virtually, paces the process with the availability of both information and stakeholders.
Integrate Design and Execution
Stakeholders should work towards making production-ready designs – it is important for designers and execution planners to work in an integrated manner at the early stages of the project.
Avoid, as far as possible
Use of visual management tools like BIM help in visualizing the workflows at an early stage, thus reducing rework cases on-site. 4D simulation of construction sequence helps in building clarity of the execution work, site logistics, and flow of production, while also highlighting any design issues or corrections that might be required before releasing for production.
Clear Communication is key
Making the change identification and reporting process simpler can have a significant impact on how we manage them. Automating the process of reporting on issues and changes from the site can further minimize latency in the process. It is also important to provide the right information at the right time to the right person; any break in communication or trust can have a significant impact on project delivery.