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Change Management in Construction


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What is change management in construction?

Change management is all about having a clear plan and rules in place to deal with upcoming changes, both unforeseen and anticipated. This includes helping individuals, teams, and the entire company adjust their methods, mindset and responsibilities as required.


In the construction industry, change management typically occurs at the project level. Construction change management defines protocols and frameworks to ensure projects remain aligned with client needs, even amidst evolving circumstances. When not handled properly, changes along the course of construction projects can cost time, money, and client satisfaction.


What is the core of successful construction change management?

To navigate changes effectively, construction teams can stick to a few core principles: 


  • Communication and engagement: ensure all employees are promptly and accurately informed about changes. Better yet, involve key employees in decision-making to gather their input on proposed changes, boosting morale.

  • Detailed plan: develop a comprehensive construction change management plan outlining procedures for handling changes throughout the project lifecycle.

  • Risk management: identify potential risks associated with changes and implement mitigation strategies to minimize their impact as part of the detailed plan.

  • Flexibility: maintain flexibility and adaptability during project changes, but don’t steer off the detailed plan.

  • Evaluation: regularly assess the project change management process and make revisions based on past experiences to enhance efficiency over time. Don’t forget to celebrate when change is managed effectively! 


How can construction projects benefit from streamlined change processes?

Streamlined change management processes offer significant benefits to construction projects.


Firstly, they help to avoid delays by reducing the time spent on administrative tasks associated with change requests. By implementing clear and straightforward procedures for evaluating and implementing changes, construction teams can swiftly address modifications without those frustrating bureaucratic hurdles, ensuring projects stick to schedule. 


Secondly, streamlining change processes increases transparency and accountability. By making it easier to see how changes are managed, it improves communication and collaboration, so that everyone understands the rationale behind the changes and the potential impact on things like project timeline or budget.


Types of change in construction

Here are 10 common types of changes encountered in the construction industry. To ensure successful project completion amidst these changes, it’s beneficial to establish effective processes to manage them:


1. Design errors: This involves strategies to minimize mistakes in architectural design, such as thorough reviews and checks by experienced architects or engineers, employing advanced software for design simulations, and conducting peer reviews.

2. Low-quality workmanship: This involves enforcing strict quality control measures, providing adequate training and supervision for workers, conducting regular inspections and audits, and even implementing incentive programs to encourage high standards of craftsmanship!

3. Defective tools/materials: This involves working closely with suppliers to ensure the quality and reliability of materials, conducting rigorous testing and quality checks upon receipt of materials, and establishing clear protocols for handling defects to obtain timely replacements.

4. Unexpected site conditions: This involves conducting thorough site assessments prior to construction, maintaining flexibility in project planning to accommodate unforeseen challenges, and having contingency plans in place to address issues such as soil instability, environmental hazards, or even archaeological discoveries!

5. Poor logistics: This involves optimizing supply chain management, maintaining open communication with suppliers to anticipate and address potential disruptions, diversifying suppliers to mitigate risks, and leveraging technology such as inventory management systems and real-time tracking.

6. Legal and regulatory roadblocks: This involves staying informed about relevant laws and building regulations, obtaining necessary permits and approvals well in advance, engaging legal counsel to navigate complex legal issues, and fostering positive relationships with regulatory authorities.

7. Financial setbacks: This involves thorough financial planning and budgeting, regularly monitoring project expenses, identifying potential risks and developing contingency plans, exploring financial options such as loans or partnerships, and maintaining open communication with stakeholders about financial status and projections.

8. Personnel changes: This involves having succession plans in place for key roles, providing ongoing training and development opportunities to build a skilled workforce, fostering a positive workplace to reduce turnover, and maintaining effective communication channels to manage transitions smoothly.

9. Unexpected client requests: This involves open and transparent communication with clients throughout the project, clearly defining the project scope from the outset, establishing change management protocols to evaluate client requests, and negotiating any additional costs or timeline adjustments as needed.

10. Changes to the project objectives: This involves flexibility and adaptability in project planning and execution, conducting thorough impact assessments to evaluate the implications of proposed changes on cost, schedule, and quality, obtaining stakeholder buy-in for changes, and updating project documentation and plans accordingly.


Common challenges in change management in construction

Here are some common challenges associated with change in construction, along with the disruptions they might cause: 


  • Stakeholder resistance: concerns about cost, delays, workload, job displacement, or workflow disruptions may lead to resistance to changes in established plans.

  • Technology adoption resistance: workers' hesitancy to adopt new technologies and methodologies can hinder progress.

  • Scope creep: uncontrolled changes in project scope may strain resources, leading to budget overruns and delays.

  • Communication issues: miscommunication among stakeholders can result in rework, delays, and increased costs.

  • Resource limitations: limited availability of manpower, materials, or equipment may delay change implementation or increase project costs if alternative resources are needed.

  • Regulatory changes: adjustments to project plans and timelines may be necessary due to changes in building regulations, posing challenges to compliance and project momentum.


What technologies are reshaping construction change management?

The digital revolution has swept across various industries, from medicine and finance to agriculture, and construction is no exception. In recent years, there has been a digital revolution on the worksite!

Several innovative technologies are reshaping construction change management, offering solutions to improve efficiency, collaboration, and decision-making.


Here are some key technologies:


1. Building Information Modelling (BIM): Enables stakeholders to visualize proposed changes in a 3D environment.

2. Construction Management Software: Centralizes project information, automates workflows, and facilitates real-time collaboration for a streamlined project change management process.

3. Mobile Applications: Enable workers to submit change requests and access project documents from anywhere, improving efficiency.

4. Drones and UAVs: Provide high-resolution imagery, allowing project teams to assess site conditions and monitor changes more effectively.

5. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Enhance understanding and stakeholder engagement by visualising proposed changes in a virtual environment.

6. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): Analyse project data to identify patterns and optimise project change management processes.

7. Cloud Computing: Facilitates real-time collaboration and information sharing among project teams, enhancing transparency and communication in the face of change.


By leveraging these technologies, construction firms can enhance change management processes and achieve better project outcomes. Why not leverage technology in your construction 2025 strategy


What is project change management?

Project change management in construction involves systematically applying processes and tools to facilitate the adoption of changes within a construction project. It focuses on supporting individual transitions necessary for achieving project goals. 


For example, when introducing new construction methods or materials, effective change management ensures smooth adoption by the project team, contributing to project success.


How can a proactive approach to change management enhance project outcomes?

A proactive approach to change management anticipates potential problems and enables teams to mitigate risks, minimise disruptions, and ensure project success. This includes developing contingency plans to address unforeseen circumstances, such as supply chain disruptions or regulatory changes. These plans allocate resources, budget for potential costs, and establish alternative strategies to maintain project timelines and financial performance. Modern methods of construction, such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), can enhance proactivity by identifying problems before they occur, although they may involve initial costs.


Ultimately, a proactive approach, coupled with robust contingency planning, and perhaps the helping hand of technology help to foster project resilience and agility.


Change Management in Construction: FAQs


What are the 5 principles of construction change management? 

The 5 key principles of construction change management are as follows: proactive planning to anticipate potential changes before they arise, clear communication, stakeholder engagement, flexibility/adaptability due to the dynamic nature of construction projects, and finally, evaluation to continuously improve and refine the project change management process based on past experiences. 

What are the 6 types of construction change management?

The 6 types of construction change management are as follows: managing when the scope of the project changes, managing changes to project scheduling, managing changes in cost, managing changes in order to protect quality standards, managing changes to project risks, and finally, managing changes to project resources, whether that be workers, materials or machinery. 


To conclude, effective construction change management is vital for project success. It provides a detailed plan amid inevitable changes, such as changes to building regulations, to ensure projects stay on track and on budget. Embracing proactive strategies and technological advancements is key to navigating change well in construction projects.


Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is intended as an overall introduction and is not intended as advice from a professional. Travis Perkins aims to avoid, but accepts no liability, in the case that any information stated is out of date.