Process Management in Construction: Expansion of the Bolzano Hospital
Situation faced: Frener and Reifer (F&R) is a leader in engineering, fabricating, and installing facades with non-standard designs. The company was looking for comprehensive, domain-specific approaches to improve the company’s control over facade processes, from design to execution and monitoring. What makes process management particularly challenging in this setting are some peculiarities of the domain, such as high levels of variability, unpredictability, and inter-organizational synchronization (vom Brocke et al., BPM Trends, 1, 2015), as well as the non-standard and non-repetitive nature of the designs, which complicates the ability to formulate reliable estimates. Indeed, in many cases the installation department exceeded the number of hours that were initially estimated.
Action taken: A group of researchers developed a domain-specific methodology, called PRECISE, that provides methods with which to support the process lifecycle (Dumas et al., Fundamentals of business process management. Springer, 2013) in construction. F&R applied the methodology to construction of the hospital in Bolzano, Italy, by implementing three steps: (i) collaborative process design, with the main figures taking part in the construction project (e..g the project manager, the architect and the foreman on site); (ii) process implementation, which involves defining short-term (i.e., daily or weekly) schedules for tasks based on actual data on the progress of the work; and (iii) continuous monitoring and measurement of the progress of the work on site.
Results achieved: By applying the methodology, which supports a detailed modelling and monitoring of the activities, F&R could perform reliable estimates of progress on tasks and expected cost to completion. For instance, F&R recognized that the budget it had initially estimated was too tight. By analyzing the up-to-date data on the progress of the work and consulting with the workers on the construction site, the company could identify problems and sources of delay promptly and act to mitigate their effects. During the application of PRECISE, F&R recorded an increase in productivity that was estimated to have saved 400 man hours.
Lessons learned: Application of the methodology singled out some aspects of the process that should be addressed to improve process management. Flexibility, which is required in dealing with the domain variability, is achieved by defining a process model and a short-term schedule, while the availability of reliable and up-to-date data on the progress of the work is obtained by applying continuous, detailed process monitoring. Engagement of the workers in the process management allows the project to benefit from their expertise (Rosemann and vom Brocke, Handbook on business process management, introduction, methods, and information systems. Springer, 2015), which is the basis of the collaborative approach. However, better IT support for the methodology is needed (Rosemann and vom Brocke, Handbook on business process management, introduction, methods, and information systems. Springer, 2015; Dumas et al., Fundamentals of business process management. Springer, 2013).
This work was done within the auspices of the research projects MoMaPC and KENDO, which were financed by the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano.
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