The construction industry is a large and complex industry comprising many types and sizes of organizations and a diverse range of professionals and other representative bodies. Consequently, the biggest problem is conflicts in the industry between both clients and contractors and the contractors and their sub contractors (Cooke and Williams, 2009). This most often is as a result of non-clarification of roles or breach of the contract procedures by one of the parties because of lack of communication and co-ordination.
Poor productivity and quality within the industry have also been attributed to lack of advance management of the processes by both Latham (1994) and Egan (1998). Professional bodies have therefore introduced various plans of work as attempts to facilitates processes within the industry.
In this report, the updated RIBA plan of work which was designed by British architects was employed to plan the execution of a project (CTG) from appraisal to completion. Alternative maps for the same project were produced using the Generic Design and Construction Process Protocol (GCDPP) which was developed in 1995 in other to identify the potential benefits and problems that might be encountered in the use of the process protocol.
2.0 Current plan of work
The Department of Business Innovation and Skills (DBIS) intends to construct a new project, Centre for Technology in Government (CTG), which is a 250,000 square feet facility built to house world class super computers and nuclear weapons design staff. The building site is located in Liverpool, UK and the allowed budget for the project is Â£50,000,000. The client had explicit goals and therefore appointed a cross-functional team from the start to translate the needs into a design brief. The cross-functional team, after the conceptual design stage, identified various functional and operational requirements (F&ORs) which were grouped by room type. These F&ORs became the basis for requests of proposals that resulted in design and build contract
2.2 Procurement method
It is important to briefly explain the procurement method used to execute the CTG project because the procurement method and type of contract employed will have implications on the plan of work (Clamp et al, 2007 p 32). Single stage tender (assumption) design and build contract was used; the client, DBIS selected CTG to execute the project because of the business relationship they shared as well as the fact that, the constructor was needed at the design stage to give advice on the constructional method and buildability of the concepts. The client-led design ended at the conceptual stage (RIBA stage C) and the contractor was therefore provided with conceptual designs.
2.3 RIBA Plan of Work
The Plan of Work (RIBA, 1997) was originally published in 1963 as a standard method of operation for the construction of buildings, and it has become widely accepted as the operational model throughout the building industry (Kagioglou et al, 1998). It was developed from the view point of the architect to provide a frame work for a standardised method of operation for the design, construction and management of buildings (Poon et al, 2003). This plan of work was developed to meet the needs of the traditional forms of contract and breaks down the entire construction into 5 key stages. There key stages are further broken down into 11 sub-processes as shown below
2.4 RIBA plan of work in G&C Ltd
There is, however, a slight variation to the work stages primarily because of the procurement method (Design and Build) used. This is because the cross functional team assembled by the client produces conceptual designs that were grouped into F&ORs which formed the basis of the request for proposals. Detailed designs (RIBA stage D) and technical designs stage (RIBA stage E) were produced by the contractor before tender action while production information stage (RIBA stage F) proceeded after mobilisation stage (RIBA stage J). Figure 2.1 shows the plan of work used in executing the project from the perspective of the constructors which is seen to differ slightly from the plan of work in appendix 1
Figure 2.1 Adoption of RIBA plan of work for Contractor
Appendix 2 shows the detailed mapping of each of the above sub processes.
As a constructor, the first stage of involvement was to review the employer’s (Department for business innovation and skills) conceptual requirement that has already been identified with the cross-functional team. The constructor (G&G ltd) receives the conceptual brief containing the F&ORs by room type and also confirming key requirements and constraints as well as the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. The in-house quality management procedures that will be applied on the project is determined. These culminate into the contractor’s brief. Since G&C ltd already has an in- house design team, they assist in the preparation of the contractor’s brief. The construction company at this stage appoints one of its in-house staff to act as the CDM co-ordinator. During the review, some questions may arise, especially concerning site conditions and operational hazards. It is the responsibility of the contractor to provide all such information to the design team and the CDM co-ordinator. The design team advises on the need for additional consultants for the project. Documents that will accompany the tender submission are identified and the pre-tender programme drawn up. This process in mapped out in detail in appendix 2.
2.4.2 Design development
Once the conceptual designs are fully reviewed and understood by the contractor and his team, he authorizes the final layouts. The design team then develops the project brief into developed designs including, the structural elements, the services systems and the general architectural layout. The initial cost plan is updated and the CDM co-ordinator ensures that all health and safety regulation have been considered at this stage.
2.4.3 Technical design
This is the last stage of design development before production information is prepared. The detailed designs are produced and all approvals obtained including that of building regulations. The health and safety file is updated by the CDM co-ordinator and the cost plans and cash flows also updated by the quantity surveyor. The stage D report will form the basis of the tender documents. This process in mapped out in detail in appendix 2.
2.4.5 Tender action
Once the detailed developments are obtained, the contractor with the CDM co-ordinator prepares the draft initial construction phase plan. The quantity surveyor advises on the preliminaries, the contingencies and the work sequences and proceeds to prepare the contract sum analysis. The CDM co-ordinator, the quantity surveyor and the other design team members contribute to the stage report prepared by the lead consultant. The report includes all the documents intended to be used for tendering. The contractor checks the report to ensure compliance and the tender documents are submitted.
The submitted tender documents are evaluated by the employer’s agent and any queries responded to by the contractor and his team. Once the contract is awarded to the winning firm (G&C Ltd), there is negotiation between the employer’s agent and the contractor before final adjustments are agreed.
The employer’s agent confirms to the client that the contractor (G&C ltd) has been duly selected. The contractor is then appointed and the tender documents become the contract documents with certified copies sent to the contractor. His insurances for the project are checked by the employer’s agent.
The site is handed over the contractor and he proceeds to develop his initial construction phase plan with his team and the CDM co-ordinator. Statutory approvals and other detailed planning permission are also obtained.
2.4.7 Production Information
The final proposals are translated into precise technical instruction for pricing and construction purposes, which is the preparation of detailed drawings, schedules and specifications. The health and safety file is finally updated by the CDM co-ordinator. The contractor, the design team the quantity surveyor and the CDM co-ordinator reviews all process to ensure compliance with brief and procedures.
This is where actual construction of the CTG building takes place in accordance with contract agreements. Further information is supplied to the contractor as and when deemed necessary. At this stage the contractor, his team and sub contractors are typically involved.
2.4.9 Rectification period
After construction to practical completion, final inspections are done and the project is handed over. The contract document allows the contractor to be paid half the amount in the final certificate with the other half released after a predetermined period (6 months), defects liability period. Within which all faults and problems are corrected by the contractor.
2.5 Appraisal of RIBA in CTG project
The RIBA plan of work was one of the first expressions of building process by members of the building team (Poon et al, 2003) and has been tried, tested and accepted. It has been widely adopted as the basis of calculating consultants’ fees as well as gives a vivid description of work stages (Clamp et al, 2007). Adopting ‘design and build’ as procurement route while employing the RIBA plan of work in the CTG project resulted in hybrid process which improves the plan of work especially in the area of flexibility and eliminates sequential flows which, Sheath et al (1996) argues that, have caused problems of fragmentation and poor co-ordination between project team members.
CTG, as a project that will house the designing and testing of nuclear weapons, it requires the involvement of all major stakeholders, as such the client, DBIS assembled a cross-functional team including the contractor, in order to better identify his needs and requirements and identify any possible constraints on development and eventually produce a holistic brief. The adoption of the cross-functional team approach had the advantage of improving co-ordination and communication from the design stage throughout to the project (Kagioglou et al, 1998). It was also necessary to involve the constructors early in the design phase in order to eliminate any claims and counter claims for costs, quality and time between the various parties of the contract (Gunaskaran and Love, 1998). This will ensure buildability and reduce the incident of rework and waste in the design process and construction process. Having established the cross-functional team, weekly meetings were held to review all aspects of the design.
Since it is a single stage tender, it became the responsibility of the contractor to produce the developed designs and technical designs prior to tender action. In order to facilitate the continuous review of the design by the cross-functional team, the contractor broke the technical design into mini phases as follows; all layouts and setting outs, pile caps and ground beams, structural steel work, substructure, super structure, detailed security services and services systems. There were series of reviews and the final review was during the tender action. Once the contract was signed and mobilisation got underway, the production information was produced concurrently. Construction commenced immediately mobilisation is complete. Daily visits by the cross functional team ensured co-ordination and team work all through the construction. RIBA plan of work guarantees flexibility in the basic outline, in that it can be modified to suit any form of procurement used by simply re-arranging the sub processes (Clamp et al, 2007).
The RIBA plan of work, 2007 appears to be very elaborate an simple to understand and use because it maps out the main process at the higher level indicating the sub processes and the outputs at each stage. The details of the sub processes can also be mapped out indicating the activities involved and the parties responsible for those activities. Finally the adoption of the design and build and employing a cross-functional team ensures better understanding of requirements, better translation to drawings, more effective and efficient construction process devoid of any conflicts and unnecessary variations eventually leading to a satisfied client and a satisfied contractor. In every building contract there is some degree of risk (Clamp et al, 2007). Balance of speculative risk will lie almost wholly with the CTG contractor in this project with the client bearing the conceptual risk which involves matters that are key to operational efficiency such as scheme.
All the major disadvantages that have been associated with RIBA; linear fashion (Jamieson, 1997; Cooper et al, 2004), lack co-ordination and communication (Sheath at al 1996, Kagioglou et al, 1998), buildability issues and biasness towards the architect (Poon et al, 2003) have been catered for by the adoption of the design and build procurement system as well as the introduction of the cross functional team (including the contractor) at the very beginning of the CTG project. However there are still a number of issues that remains unresolved and primary among them is the absence of a mechanism to transfer all the knowledge that will be shared by the entire CTG project team to similar projects in the future because both success and failure can offer important lessons for the future (Kagioglou et al, 2000). Finally, throughout the entire project, subcontractor and suppliers are only involved from the mobilisation stage (RIBA J)
3.0 The Generic Design and Construction Process Protocol
The Generic Design and Construction Process Protocol (GDCPP) was funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) under the Innovative Manufacturing Initiate (IMI) and undertook by the University of Salford with a leading number of industrial partners, including clients, architects, contractors, subcontractors, consultants, suppliers and IT specialists during 1995-98 (Lee et al, 2000). The main aim of this project was to develop a Generic Design and Construction Process Protocol for the construction industry by considering the lessons learnt through a number of decades in manufacturing New Product Development (NPD). This was achieved by comprehensive reviews of the construction and manufacturing industries, interactive workshops with the project industrial partners, case studies in the manufacturing and construction industry and other research and data collection tools and techniques (Aouad et al, 1999).
There are eight key principles involved in process protocol for process as follows which are originated from manufacturing process.
- Whole Project view,
- a consistent Process,
- Progressive Design Fixity,
- Co ordination,
- Stakeholder Involvement & team work,
- Process Flexibility,
- Customisable Process.
The model identifies the various activities involved in the complete execution of the project as well as the responsible parties produced on a horizontal- X and vertical Y axis respectively resulting in a form of a responsibility matrix. The parties responsible for activity within each phase can be a single person, a firm or a complex network of people (depending on the size of the project) who have been grouped in to ‘activity zones’. Consequently, eight (8) activity zones have been identified by the model and are listed below
- Development Management
- Project Management
- Resource Management
- Design Management
- Production Management
- Facilities Management
- Health & Safety, Statutory legal Management
- Process Management & Change Management
The design and construction process (X- axis) have been broken down into 10 distinct phases. These 10 phases are grouped into 4 broad stages: Pre-Project, Pre-Construction, Construction and Post-Construction. (www.processprotocol.com). These 4 stages are briefly explained below
3.2 Pre-Project Stage
The Pre-Project Phases (0-3) relate to the strategic business considerations of any potential project which aims to address a client’s need. Throughout the Pre-Project Phases the client’s need is progressively defined and assessed with the aim of:
Determining the need for a construction project solution, and
Securing outline financial authority to proceed to the Pre-Construction Phases
(Cooper et al, 2005 p 76)
These phases have been mapped out in detail in appendix 4
Phase zero: Demonstrating the Need
Phase one: Conception of Need
Phase two: Outline Feasibility
Phase three: Substantive Feasibility Study & Outline Financial Authority
3.3 Pre-Construction Stage
At this stage (4-6), the defined client’s need is developed into an appropriate design solution through a logical sequence, with the aim of delivering approved production information (Cooper et al, 2005 p78)
These phases are listed below have been mapped out in detail in appendix 4
Phase four: Outline Conceptual Design
Phase five: Full Conceptual Design
Phase six: Coordinated design, Procurement & Full Financial Authority
3.4 Construction Stage
The Construction Phases (7-8) is solely concerned with the production of the project solution. It is here that the full benefits of the co-ordination and communication earlier in the Process may be fully realised. Potentially, any changes in the client’s requirements will be minimal, as the increased cost of change as the design progresses should be fully understood by the time on-site construction work begins (Cooper et al, 2005 p78).
The phases involved are listed below. Refer to appendix 4 for detailed maps
Phase seven: Production Information
Phase eight: Construction
3.5 Post-Construction Stage
Upon completion of the Construction Phase, the Process Protocol continues into the Post-Construction phases which aim to continually monitor and manage the maintenance needs of the constructed facility (Cooper et al, 2005 p 80). This is the last phase of the model
Phase 9: Operation & Maintenance
There are gates (soft and hard) in between the phases mentioned above. Soft gates are review points during the process which require a decision to be made, but does not require the temporary overhaul of the whole project until a decision to proceed is made. They enable concurrency while hard gates are review points during the process which may require the temporary overhaul of the project until a decision to proceed is made. (www.processprotocol.com).
3.7 Applying the GDCPP to the CTG project
The backgrounds of the construction parties are very variant and they therefore have varying skills, it is therefore critical that parties understand and appreciate the interdependence and responsibilities of one another (Poon et al, 2003). However contract-led restrictions of previous models have prevented the involvement of the various parties in the early stages of the project life (Cooper et al, 2005). The GDCPP aims to improve co-ordination of the entire design and construction process (Lee et al, 2000) and try to address the key areas of the process that have been identified for improvement.
The first benefit of adopting the GDCPP in the CTG project in that, it extends the recognized construction industry’s involvement beyond completion (cooper et al, 2005) and therefore covers the entire lifespan of the project as can be seen in appendices 3 and 4. This will increase the commitments of all parties to the contract especially the contactor and the sub contractors as they continue to bear some contractual risks within the project even after practical completion.
Moreover, risk and value management starts right at the beginning of the project and runs through all the phases as can be seen in appendix 3 and in more detail in appendix 4. This has been absent from the RIBA plan of work. Since the client, the cross-functional team, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers are involved at an early stage, there will therefore be a complete identification of all possible risks and hence an early adoption of strategies to mitigate them.
With a project of CTG’s nature, variation of requirements at any stage will have serious cost implications on the project, as such the introduction of phase reviews (as can be seen on appendix 3) which aim at reviewing work in each phase and approving progress to the next stage while employing the hard or soft gates is an added advantage. This will assure high quality of work performance (Kagioglou et al, 1998). The backbone of the successful execution of the CTG project will be a good relationship between parties (Jamieson, 1997; Cooper et al, 2005). More often than not, problems have ranged from litigation, lack of trust, lack of communication and lack of knowledge sharing between parties as they have perhaps never worked together probably will never do again (Lee et al, 2000). Therefore the involvement of all stakeholders and using strategic partnering arrangements will allow involvement of all parties from the requirements capture phase as shown on appendix 3 and this fosters a team environment and encourages appropriate and timely communication and decision making (Lee et al 2000) and because stakeholders are identified, their responsibilities will be explicitly identified.
Feedback is an important concept which aims to regulate and improve performance (Poon et al, 2003). The inclusion of the legacy archive with the process protocol is an added advantage. It gives the players within the industry an opportunity to draw from the success or failures of past projects upon which the current or future projects. Furthermore, the adoption of standardised deliverables assist in smooth project delivery as every team knows what is to be produced and at what stage. This is the only way continuous improvement can be sustained.
However, the first problem that will come to the mind of members of the construction industry is the extent of involvement of IT in the process. Poon et al (2003) argue that, apart from describing the activities in the map, it is also necessary to use multiple computing skills, which include electronic data interchange, artificial intelligence, integrated databases, inter/intranet application and document management systems in order to analyse activities. The whole set of activities might seem cumbersome and too complicated for non-computer literate users.
The roles of the process management and change management activity zones seem to lean much toward the activities and roles of the project manager within the context of construction. Therefore, there could be conflict of responsibilities within these activity zones as they operate within the project. This is the case because of the fundamental difference between construction and manufacturing in relation to the product, the processes and the tracking of changes that occur.
Though the process protocol is generic and has the advantage of flexibility, it is quite difficult to fit the protocol into an ongoing project because it has its own definitions and terminologies which could possibly result in confusion if blended with the terminology of the one going project.
4. 0 Production activities
An activity is a well defined task in a project which usually requires a certain amount of time to complete and absorbs a portion of the project’s financial budget (Waller, 2002). In the CTG project, there are many production activities, however, casting the foundation have been chosen for appraisal
4.1 Casting the foundation
A cross functional process map shown in appendix 5 is used to depict how a typical foundation slab within the CTG project is cast indicating the processes cutting across several functions. According to the transformation theory, the emphasis is on the translation of the concrete into the foundation and slab (Koskela, 2000). However, in order to ensure the foundation is cast according to the drawings, checking/inspection is done intermittently as can be seen on the map, this brings us to the flow model: there are waiting, inspection and moving together with the transformations (Koskela, 2000). This is so because, once the formwork in place and the foundation is cast, it has to be inspected. As depicted on the map there are such inspections which involve, waiting and moving as the entire foundation is cast. The effect of these is the eventual extension to the time required to execute the particular operation.
There are some non value-adding activities that are important, an example being the time allowed for the concrete to harden before the forms are struck and preparation of the excavated surfaces after excavation. There are other non-value adding activities that need to eliminate an example being the time spent in undertaking all these inspections. In order to improve the efficiency of this process, focus should be on the elimination to the non-value adding processes.
The RIBA plan of work still has its advantage of simplicity and adaptability to various procurement methods. However the GDCPP proves to be more holistic in its approach towards customer satisfaction. The GDCPP is easily adopted in the CTG project primarily because of the size and complexity of the project. The cost that may be incurred through implementation of the protocol will be offset in the communication, co-ordination and team work which will eventually be created. This may however not be the case in relatively smaller projects.
The introduction and sustenance of the protocol will fail due to poor process change within companies and will even fail more should managements try to adopt shortcuts by expecting individual workers to execute new working practices without training. Effective implementation and adoption of the protocol requires continuous training and education. This training needs to start from management level down to the last worker.