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Organizational change in project control is inevitable because change is the only constant element in project management. This study acknowledges that organizational change can have serious effects in the outcome of projects, in the construction industry because it can lead to increased project costs, poor schedule adherence and poor project quality.
Consequently, this study notes that change management is important in the construction industry and project managers ought to evaluate their alternatives in dealing with the same. Depending on the nature of the construction project, the alternatives for selecting the best change management tool is open, but the criterion is subject to further investigation
Change is often inevitable within any given organizational context. However, managing such change is a big problem and in this regard, organizations often experience a lot of difficulty trying to initiate change within project management processes (Carnegie 2007). This difficulty inhibits a project’s ability to transform from a current state to a future desired state of operations.
The initiation of change is often a byproduct of extensive research in a project’s operations, to determine how it can be improved in future processes. In project management, the project manager often has a task of anticipating future changes and developing a contingency plan to establish how the change will affect the organization and what effective ways can be implemented to achieve project success.
This study analyses organizational change in project control management and how it has an impact in the outcome of the construction industry.
The construction industry has for a long time remained a project-based industry (Hao, Shen and Neelamkavil 2008). In this regard, the construction industry has been subject to project management processes, such as risk assessment; planning cost estimation; bidding and similar project management processes (Collins 1998).
Regardless of these processes, decisions about the construction project still have to be made, based on incomplete information regarding the project management process.
This fact often subjects project management in the construction industry to several changes; and in this regard, change stands out as the common denominator in many construction project management processes (despite the varying scope and complexity of construction projects) (Kotter 1996).
In this regard, the construction industry has often experienced several project changes, brought about by changing technology, changing consumer needs and the likes (Lientz 2001). Often, these changes are unanticipated, and they have severe effects on the project management process, in form of project delays, an upsurge of project costs, poor quality of construction standards and the likes.
In fact, it is estimated that reworking a project to remedy the effects of an unplanned change can cause an increase of between 10% and 15% of the construction costs (Kotter 1996).
Such project eventualities normally cause dissatisfaction to project clients and this fact cannot be better explained, than through the assertion by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, U.K. that: “More than a third of major clients are dissatisfied with contractors’ performance in keeping to the quoted price and to time, resolving defects, and delivering a final product of the required quality” (Kotter 1996, p. 1).
The above institution further goes ahead to explain that: “the clients’ dissatisfaction is due to the fact that, over 50% of construction projects suffer from delays and over-spending, while more than 30% of the completed projects have quality defects. Furthermore, some 30% of construction is rework” (Kotter 1996, p. 1).
From the above assertions, we see that changes in construction project management have been poorly managed because of the high frequency of technology change and the complexity and messiness of the construction industry (Schwalbe 2009).
In support of this fact, existing literature on project change management often cite the complexity of the construction industry, as demanding a blend of several strategies to effectively manage change (Ross Consulting Inc 2009). For example, some literatures propose that change in the construction industry cannot be solely solved through collaborative problem solving (Kotter 1996).
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From this analysis, we see that there is a need for effective project change management in the construction industry. This study therefore seeks to establish how best such change management can be developed and implemented.
Strategic Issues and Organizational Change
The issue of knowledge sharing in organizational project change control has been advanced as a change management tool (Senaratne and Sexton 2008, p. 1303).
Whenever organizations are faced with the problem of change management, the common strategy advanced among project managers today, is to facilitate knowledge sharing, where people have a forum to deliberate on the implications of the project change, and devise ways they can effectively overcome such changes (Reed 2004).
The management of change in the construction industry has not been any different from the above trend; except for the fact that, pragmatic on site problem solving is applied, as opposed to other conventional methods of problem solving. Unfortunately, this strategy has been poorly adopted by most managers in the construction industry (Senaratne and Sexton 2008, p. 1303).
A good example of organizational change in the construction industry is the rapid change of organizational structure, where new methods of operations are quickly being evidenced in the management of project construction works (Kuriger 2004).
For instance, new activities such as: the extension of the subcontracting chain; more self employment strategies among project team members; less training programs in the project management process and the rampant casualization of work have tremendously changed the way project management is carried out, and it is unfortunate that, project managers have not embraced these changes with the right strategies (Rosewarne 2011).
A strategy such as knowledge sharing is a useful strategy to cope with such organizational changes, but other alternatives still exist (De wit and Meyer 2005).
Conclusion and Recommendations
This study acknowledges that, the construction industry is not immune to organizational change, and if such changes are not effectively managed, they can cause significant delays in the delivery of project outcomes. However, the ways to manage such changes are diverse and may be tricky for each project manager, depending on the dynamics of the construction project in question.
This is the basis used by this study to propose effective change management strategies, like knowledge-based processes. However, there are other strategies to be used in change management for the construction industry and they can be effectively used to minimize the negative effects of organizational (or project) changes in the construction industry.
However, to adopt the best change management tool, a thorough selection of the existent change management tools ought to be established, to determine the best tool that fits the project need (Grant 2007). This strategy should be adopted by all project managers. The effectiveness of the change management strategies and their subsequent impact on the outcome of the construction industry however need to be investigated further.
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