By Sr. Dr. Mohd Nasrun Nawi, Dr. Angela Lee and Dr. Kamarul Anuar Mohamad Kamar
Although IBS has been introduced for over 40 years, with well-documented benefits and strong support from the government, however the pace of implementation and usage of IBS is still slow and below the government target. Investigation by some researchers identified that one of the main barriers of IBS implementation in the Malaysian construction industry is related to the current practice of traditional design and construction process in IBS project. This barrier relates to the problem of fragmentation that has been well criticized by previous authors in which involve players that are disconnected from each other and work in isolation approach. As a result of this fragmentation, the traditional construction process tends to incur additional costs from rework stemming from errors, quality issues and inefficiency of project delivery times, poor performance and client dissatisfaction of products delivery.
Furthermore, this fragmented traditional approach will create some related problems such as;
- Fragmentation of different stakeholders in most IBS construction project leading to misconceptions and misunderstandings;
- The fragmentation of IBS design, fabrication and construction data whereas data generated at one stage are not readily re-used downstream, leading to design clashes, omissions and errors;
- The occurrence of late and costly IBS design changes and unnecessary liability claims, occurring as a result of the above;
- The lack of true life-cycle analysis of IBS projects (i.e. maintenance & operation cost) leading to an inability to maintain a competitive edge in a changing marketplace;
- The lack of integration, co-ordination and collaboration between the various functional disciplines involved in the life-cycle-issues of the IBS projects, leading to inefficiencies during construction phase;
- Inadequate capture, structuring, prioritization and implementation of IBS client needs;
- Development of pseudo-optimal design solutions;
- Constructability, supportability and maintainability issue are considered late in the IBS design process;
- Characterisation of the IBS design process with a rigid sequence of activity.
Following these problems, many industry-led reports have all called on the industry to change from its traditional modus operandi and perform better through increased collaboration. Recent follow-up reports (i.e. UKCG and Egan’s Report) also challenged the construction industry to create a fully integrated service capable of delivering predictable results to clients through processes and team integration. Accordingly, the move towards team integration is considered a significant strategy for solving the issue of fragmentation in IBS projects as discussed above. An integrated delivery team is a highly effective way to bring together various skills and knowledge and removes the traditional barriers towards effective and efficient delivery of the project. For example, involving IBS’s specialist contractors or manufacturers earlier in the design process will help design professionals to see how a contractor will implement the design. This strategy will alleviate scheduling problems, delays and disputes during the construction process, and, hence, prevent harming the overall project performance.
Previous researchers identified the delivery team in a construction project can be described as “fully integrated” when it:
· has a single focus, objectives and responsibility for the project
· has different disciplines working concurrently on processes and has co-ordinated activities
· works towards mutually beneficial outcomes by ensuring that all members support each other and achievements are shared throughout the team
· has a flexible member composition and is therefore able to respond to change over the duration of the project
· early consideration and full use of the collective skills and expertise
· offers its members equal opportunities to contribute to the delivery process
· operates with no boundaries among the various organisation members
· freely shares information among its members such that access is easy and not restricted to specific professions and organisational units within the team
· has a new identity and is co-located, usually in a given common space
· operates in an atmosphere where relationships are equitable and members are respected
· has a ‘no blame’ culture”
Based on the review of the above studies, it shows that an integrated project delivery team has great potential in effectively bringing together various skills and knowledge of individuals from different backgrounds and experiences, and removes the traditional detrimental barriers towards achieving an effective and efficient delivery of the project. As highlighted before, these barriers indirectly hinder the progress of the project which may result in scheduling and timing problems, delays and work loss hours, and disputes and conflicts during the duration of the construction process, and hence harm the overall project performance related to time, cost, and quality. Reduced quality of work, late delivery of the project, budget overrun, and even to the extreme of project failure have been highlighted as the main issues that are continually being publicized by the media. Therefore, it can be surmised that efforts towards developing the integrated project delivery team concept in the Malaysian construction industry, especially in the IBS sector, look very appealing as being one of the major factors for consideration in order to overcome the IBS constraints, especially related to the communication issues in the current Malaysian IBS construction industry.