University of Twente Student Theses


Towards change management in a digital building evironment

Meijering, H.S. (2014) Towards change management in a digital building evironment.

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Abstract:In the past years the use of computer tools has become more and more common in the construction industry. Construction professionals use specific software to support different parts of the construction process. Paper drawings are replaced with digital drawings and tasks traditional carried out by humans are done by computers. Construction companies are inevitably going to be confronted with working with digital tools. There are already many computer tools available to support the construction process and a lot of companies use them in what I call a Digital Building Environment. In the next chapter I will elaborate on the concept of a Digital Building Environment. One of the parts of a construction process that can be supported by computer tools is change management. A change, in this case, is any alteration in design (scope), budget or schedule (Sun & Meng, 2008). Change management means trying to handle a change effectively and efficiently. Effectively, meaning that the change and consequences are resolved. Efficiently, meaning that it is done at minimum costs and time delay. Change management is a requirement for any construction company. Even while the need for changes is accepted by clients and contractors (Motawa et al., 2006), "letting the changes be" and dealing with them at the end of a project is inefficient and can result in ugly legal issues, higher costs and bad relationships with project partners. Changes are almost impossible to avoid, because even the most thoughtfully planned project may necessitate changes due to various factors (Arain, 2005). To begin with, during the planning phase, many parameters are uncertain and assumptions have to be made. Also, not two construction projects are exactly alike, so each project comes with its own problems and lessons learned cannot always be applied to other projects. Furthermore, construction projects extend over time, the last for weeks, months or even years. During this time requirements may change. For example: client demands can adjust or rules and regulations may change. Not all changes are the same, there are different kinds of changes. A change can be big, like changing the structure of a building, or small, like changing the paint color of a room. Most changes have negative effects that can result in budget overruns and time delays (Ibbs et al. 2001; Motawa, 2007; Osman, 2009). However, some changes can be positive. They can improve the quality of the building or can save time or money. A change can be obligatory or elective. An obligatory change can occur when government rules change or due to errors and omissions in the design. Elective changes occur when the client or contractor would like to change something, so it is a choice, not a necessity. Fact is that almost all construction projects are subject to changes. Even though some of them can be positive, most of the changes have severe negative consequences. This is a reason why construction companies want to improve their change management process. Supporting their change management process with computer tools might be an improvement. But in order to determine if computer tools can be an improvement it is important to investigate current change management in practice and if and how a Digital Building Environment is part of this. The goal of this master thesis is to research the change management processes currently used by construction companies. I did this by conducting interviews with different people on different construction projects. This thesis will show that the change management process is barely supported by the Digital Building Environment, mainly because change management relies heavily on human interactions and intangible knowledge. There are, however, areas in change management where the DBE can be beneficial to the change management process, as I will discuss later. This thesis is structured as follows: first I will further introduce earlier research about change management systems and change management processes. Also I will discuss the concept of a digital building environment. Next I will summarize the research method and the data that was collected. Finally I will discuss the results and make recommendations, followed by suggestions for further research.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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