A Model for Implementing an Automated Change Management Process for Construction Mega-projects
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This thesis develops a model for implementing and continuously improving the automated change management process for construction megaprojects. Changes are inevitable in megaprojects. Their negative impact along with the necessity of the circulation of numerous change documents, such as; Request For Information (RFIs), Change Request (CRs), and Project Change Notice (PCNs) in real time and to the right person have required the stakeholders of mega-projects, especially project owners, to implement innovative change management systems. As well, in the industrial sector, the dominance of the “fast track” approach necessitates advanced change management that is based on formal process-based approaches using advanced Information Technology (IT). Thus, an automated workflow-based process with continuous improvement is required to effectively manage changes in construction megaprojects. Most current change management methods still rely on human discipline to follow blurred processes with repetitive tasks, which often break down due to human nature. However, automated change management is in its infancy. Thus, behaviour of and design principles for automated workflow-based change management processes are construction knowledge gaps based on which two main objectives are defined in this research. The first objective seeks to identify the levels of change management processes in the construction industry and then to evaluate and quantify the performance difference between these levels. This thesis, thus, introduces a model of three levels, or “generations”, of change management as an effective approach to understanding how change management can be continuously improved. The second objective seeks to develop and validate a model for continuous improvement of the third level “Generation Three” workflow-based process of change management as measured by improved compliance, reduction of workflow duration, better traceability, and achievement of desirable durations of workflow steady state. This “Generation Three” approach is assumed to be part of an Electronic Product and Process Management System (EPPMS), a tool supporting execution of megaprojects. To meet the aforesaid objectives, the research methodology uses a Discrete-Event Simulation (DES) model developed based on a change management process implemented in a Canadian oil and gas megaproject. Mechanistic arguments and the results of the validated simulation model of change management, which was executed for the three identified generations led to the conclusions that the “Generation Three” approach should result in: a. better traceability of change documents throughout the automated workflow-based process due to the recordibility of date, time, and current status of the change documents in each task, b. better process compliance due to the elimination of rework in repetitive tasks prompted by the automated workflow engine, c. reduction of the duration of the change management workflow considering the limitations of IT for reducing the duration of professional work. This research has thus led to a better understanding of the potential of automated management systems for improving processes such as change management in terms of traceability, compliance, and duration, but also of the limitations of such systems such as their ineffectiveness in substantially expediting professional practices that require off-line analysis, communication, negotiation and judgement.