Management of Contractual Risks
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Published: Fri, 09 Feb 2018
Managing risk should be a fundamental part of bidding for Building or Highways work. Risk is described by Atkinson (2001) as the ‘probability of an occurrence of a hazard and the magnitude of the consequences’. Consequently risk may also be considered as the possibility of an experience happening and the resultant effect of the experience if it ere to take place.
As defined by RICS (2010) risk management is a means of processes where risks are recognised, examined and then of course controlled. It is a constant cycle that begins at the pretender stage; this means that risks of events are put into a bid from the start and also at the end of construction. During the different phases of a project, many new even previously un-thought of risks materialise throughout. Recognising them quickly allows faster mitigation; in order to reduce impact risk has on the project.
This study has examined the inaccuracy of pretender process of managing risk with the use of both pretender and contract registers. There were also opportunities, they were recognised.
The subject area of risk was selected following discussions with managers and work colleagues, during my 2010 placement year with Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM). This topic was considered as an ideal subject area for a research project because SRM were improving the system they currently incorporate.
So the plan of the study was to advise any conclusions made on the research, so as to further enhance the pretender practice within SRM. My colleagues gave me some risk data sheets for a few projects. The emphasis being on highway construction, as this information was available from my placement and SRM.
The subject of what to research developed from consultations with colleagues and the line manager at SRM. My colleagues were interested in the managing of risk and were working to improve SRM’s pretender risk process to ensure it replicated the contract phase a bit more. This therefore illustrated a requirement in the business and indeed construction for research in to this topic area. The main reason for eventually electing the subject area of risk was the open access of information provided by SRM and the contact with knowledgeable personnel in my placement. This gave a better understanding of the procedures, allowing greater understanding in subject area of risk. In addition access was gained during placement to potential data in the form of contract and pretender risk registers from various Highway works undertaken by SRM.
The aim of the research as came about by undertaking literary research, up to that point none of the data was collected, or plan formulated of how to use the data. The aim was to understand how pretender recognition of risks may be inaccurate. After that considering how it could be improved and whether it was possible to do so. Subsequently, recording any conclusions of pretender process in order to develop and better it.
1.3 Hypothesis, Aims and main Objectives
Were to see if management of the contractual risks identifies significant additional risks that the pretender risk process failed to recognise and thus determine how inaccurate the pretender risk process is.
- Find the processes presently employed to deal with risk, in both contractual and pretender phases and in recognising and measuring them.
- Investigate if important additional contractual risks recognised were within the pretender phase register.
- Compare SRM’s risk management processes with other contractors and analyse to find the best solution.
- If possible, note any resulting conclusions and input results within the pretender register then produce a new and accurate one.
The management of contractual risks in Highway construction successfully identifies additional risks, consequently pretender appraisal has become inaccurate.
1.4 Overview of work done / Methodology
1.4.1 SRM schemes/jobs
The SRM jobs used on the research comprised of, M1 J25-28, and A19 upgrade (both Highways Agency jobs) and M74 Glasgow council, all Highway projects. A19 was Term Maintenance Contract (TMC) whereas M1 J25-28 and M74 upgrade were (MAC) contracts.
When examining the A19 upgrade the contractual records were acquired but the pretender risk records were not. However the contractual records were compared to a risk bid from a different project. Not ideal but the only solution at the time. The majority of the items were related, so comparable/related items were drawn from the pretender items, then included in the A19 contract register.
An evaluation was done involving the contract and pretender risks. To do this the max, min, probable costs in addition to the likelihood of a risk event were incorporated from contract and pretender appraisals. A total assessment of the risks was calculated via averaging the max, min as well as probable costs which are multiplied against the likelihood of the risk event. All risks types were identified, in order to distinguish trends in risks recognised at the pretender and found in contract phase or were not found at all.
The A19 contract risk register was distinctive to M1 J25-28 and M74 upgrade registers as it didn’t contain costs. Every risk was divided by its probability and impact, whether that was high, medium or low appraisal. The pretender register, risk items were fitted against the occurring contractual register items. To see if every item in the registers were done, costs and probabilities were assigned to the A19 contractual risk method of appraisal. In getting a total assessment, both probability and risk price were multiplied. These costs were then evaluated against the overall pretender costs.
1.4.2 Highway contractor Interviews
Interviews via telephone were conducted with a few companies to really see what processes are used at post contract and pretender. Also to find out how precise these methods are. Companies interviewed were:
- Morgan EST.
- Balfour Beatty
- May Guerney
1.4.3 Literature Review
In order to understand the risk management procedures in construction and more specifically in Highways work a literary review was embarked on. This meant the research would gain an appreciation of the perception of risk by construction, prior to any literary review, my personal experience had only come from SRM’s perspective and the processes they use. In order to gain real understanding and to funnel clearly on what my hypothesis stated, it was decided to split the literature review into two sections. One section, comprising of processes used by industry, taken from an assortment of books. The second section being that of SRM’s highways process and accompanying documents. This makes it possible for an assessment to be conducted between SRM and the other contractors, like how different stages of a contract work in Highway works.
1.5 Overview of conclusions
Both the information gained and analysis undertaken, imply the data could sustain the theory and main aims. Due to a large risk amount being found in contractual phase that was not previously seen at pretender. Even though assessments for any one risk were fairly inexact, overall assessment of pretender and contractual seemed strong. Showing pretender registers was inaccurate and needed to be better if assessments and risk management has to become more reliable.
1.6 Report Guide
1 – Introduction – An opening on the managing of risk in the dissertation while validating the basis in selecting the subject area. The introduction states the aims, objectives and hypothesis that the researched was established upon, as well as outlining the work done and an overview of the Conclusions.
2 – Methodology – Explains the methods used to investigate my hypothesis, from Literature review, approaches used in analysis and review of information and any outcomes. This expresses the reasons for utilising the techniques chosen also any research restrictions. It’s meant to be a methodical, simple approach to how things were done.
3 – Literature Review – This chapter contains my understanding and Knowledge of the subject area. Done by means of, studying the risk process used in management through books, journals and the internet. Allowing a greater comprehension of risk in Highways work, and how it’s viewed and used.
4 – Results and Analysis – Confirms the outcome in the investigation and subsequent breakdown of SRM’s jobs as well as the Highway contractors interviews. It outlines the judgments made concerning the pretender and contractual assessments. The Hypothesis was then tested against the information found, to see if its statement is true or false.
6 – Conclusions- This analyses all the results in relation to the hypothesis and if there’s is any basis that it will hold up. Detailing limitations affecting the research, while also imparting proposals for both industry and any future dissertations.
Methodologies are vital to the accomplishments of research and must be dealt with care in order for the most appropriate research methods to be chosen (Fellows and Liu, 2008). The methodology outcome depended on the subject area, research aims and amount of literature review obtained. For data collection and analysis, the methods employed ought to be realising the aims and objectives so as to continually test the hypothesis and validate the research.
The information that was obtainable and available played a huge role, as work on the dissertation could not be done if the information wasn’t relevant. The information therefore can be decided by the hypothesis, as if the information was not on hand then one cant trial the hypothesis. Due to these factors, risk management was identified as an appropriate topic from the beginning, but it wasn’t until the research was started that defining the hypothesis was possible, yet having an impression of the aims and objectives that were to be accomplished. From the off, the aim was to gauge how precise pretender risk management was, even if unsure of the data and information existing prior to consulting SRM team.
Ultimately this section highlights the research methods utilised in the research, and the close association that has been made when doing so between the methods and Aim, hypothesis and objectives.
Employed to help concentrate the methodology in choosing the right methods, also to clarify to the person who reads the dissertation what precisely was being investigated. So this shall be done by recalling the Aim set out:
To see whether the post contract risk process identifies key additional risks that the pretender risk process failed to recognise and thus determine how inaccurate pretender risk process is.
2.3 Quantitative and Qualitative methods
In Data collection there are two key styles; quantitative and qualitative forms of research. Quantitative method, being a grouping of information done using figures, which is then evaluated by arithmetical trials to trial an assumption or theory (Creswell, 1994). While the Qualitative method was quite different, instead using connotations, previous incidents and words (Naoum, 2007). Quantitative Methods can be less difficult in examining; it creates measurable outcomes that create analytical arithmetical results. They tend to be better for others to read and understand. While, qualitative information from research has a tendency to be complicated as it often requires researcher input and manipulation to ensure it’s appropriate for investigative procedures (Fellows and Liu, 2008). The methods adopted depend upon data obtainable as well as the research itself. By executing good research, it’s generally required and essential to use both quantitative and qualitative. Therefore a mixture of the two was brought to play, for a more correct and more reliable conclusion; more is detailed further in this section.
2.4 Literature Review
As mentioned previously literary appraisal was undertaken; providing a core subject knowledge in risk management of Highway construction. The idea in doing this was grasping how risk was analysed in Highway construction sector, and the procedures used in controlling it. Next research was done to discover how risk was managed, by using literature in form of books and journals. Then see SRM’s risk management process from their risk management documentation.
Dividing the literature review in two sections meant that one of the objectives could be fulfilled by comparing SRM’s risk management approach with other construction companies.
By doing the literary appraisal it imparted a better comprehension of the chosen topic of risk, and illustrated the problems and successes in risk management. While also showing the diverse and numerous ways in managing risk, and how the approach identified and selected can depend on many issues like project type, contract used or even size of companies and jobs themselves.
The list literature sources below were used in delivering the dissertation:
– Textbooks -were very useful in gaining the relevant knowledge of risk management, and procedures used. Books located in the library were discovered using the computer search engines. using. Chapters needed or thought appropriate were studied, and compared against searches that had been made on the internet. A check system, which assessed the validity of both sources of information against each other. With much of the research it became apparent that information in books available weren’t current especially in the older series of books. Despite this it wasn’t a predicament for Risk management as texts of up to ten years old were and are significant and applicable now, with some techniques having improved. The books allowed for great comparison for up to date information on the internet.
Journals – were again located on the Loughborough University library database, which with the relevant buzz words located material of use. Finding journals proved difficult in comparison to textbook numbers, yet the sources were helpful.
– Internet – supplied a platform for research of literature. Being easy to use and handy, collating information could be done at speed and with relative ease. It allowed greater understanding of what type of book would be needed from the library. Information from the internet was important but it had its limits and it was vital to know that it can be inaccurate and cause misguidance, research can be more guaranteed with text and journals. This way of thinking about limitations in using the internet was in mind when searching websites on risk in the construction. Finding various helpful websites any information was compared other websites in order to increase reliability, but most importantly against book and journals. As with all research appropriate sources of reliability were identified and used like the RICS website. Two editorials from RICS site provided constructive, and were used in the literature review. In finding books the internet was most useful as many articles on websites highlighted book of particular relevance and use.
– SRM’s Risk Management Procedures document – SRM’s risk management procedure document was used as section two of the literature review. Reading through the document and important information was used in the literature review, particularly, on the processes used by SRM in risk management. A comparison was made between SRM’s procedures and with those found in the first half of the literature review.
2.5 Data Collection
When actually collecting the data for the research the collection was again split into two parts. The initial data collection was from SRM projects, other data collection was associated to other contractors. The intention was to compare the risk procedures, and attempt at analysing which was the superior one. The next section shows how all the data collection was collected and prepared.
2.5.1 SRM Projects
The information on the SRM jobs were formed while in placement during 2010, while working on the M1, involved in subcontractor packages and various Quantity surveying related work. Prior to any data collection, discussions with colleagues and senior managers took place in order to help formulate and aid the research as what would be required in terms of data. At this stage no hypothesis had been decided, the idea was to assess the accuracy of risks in the pretender assessments. Therefore colleagues stated and recommended the use of valid information in the form pretender and contractual risk registers could be provided. The contracts that would be made available were the M1 J25-28 scheme, A19 upgrade and M74 Glasgow project. Three similar Motorway/road maintenance projects that differ from each other contractually.
A19 upgrade was a TMC to maintain, operate a network of strategic roads in the North East. M1 J25-28 and M74 are both MAC contracts for similar maintenance one in the midlands and the latter in Glasgow. A19 upgrade and M1 J25-28 are HA run, while M74 was for the Glasgow city council. The HA run their contracts by splitting their contracts into 13 sections in the UK, and in these projects cases offer for the extension and maintenance of the roads within these sections.
The reason that A19 upgrade was a TMC but M1 J25-28 and M74, MAC based contracts were that previous to the MAC HA projects were also run with the TMC contract, but now all is done under MAC style. The contracts run for 5 years with optional extensions. Different sections of maintenance start and end at different areas on the motorway in question over a 5 year cycle, meaning that when MAC contracts were first used, some sections weren’t using them and using TMC etc…
A19 upgrade was a TMC completed in 2009, whereas M1 J25-28 scheme was a modern MAC contract just saw completion in late 2010. The difference in MAC’s and TMC are TMC two separate companies, one as managing agent the other as main contractor. MAC consists of the 1 contractor, running both as an agent to the client and as main contractor on site.
Using the three contracts as the basis for the research the risk manager on the placement at SRM provided a pretender register for the M1 J25-28 risk management and A19 contractual phase, both of which he had involvement on. Trying to get pretender ones for M74 was problematic but couldn’t find any. In order to have a full complete analysis, it was decided that for M74 to use another MAC pretender risk register. Pretty much similar to M74 except the location geographically. For sure this would create limitations but it could possible in using another risk register as SRM do when starting on a new comparable bids. So similarities would be high and that as long as it was noted in the dissertation as to its use and reasons why. Due to the generic nature of the risks they were deemed suitable as with what SRM do in practice.
While on placement working on the M1 J25-28 contract meant developing contacts with colleagues who work day in day out on the subject are. Therefore requesting registers on M1 job was easier than the other jobs. The A19 contractual register came to me inn the same way. Getting the M74 contractual register, as the risk team on my placement had contact details for which to enquire with and the registers were duly emailed.
2.5.2 Rival Highway Contractors
Obtaining information via rivals in the sector of road maintenance was much more difficult than from SRM sources, as they were very protective of information they gave out. The SRM jobs were Highways related, so the focus was getting some from Highway firms. By doing additional data collection it allowed for an honest comparison between SRM and other contractors. The methods were expected to have been alike if not the same, involving different construction projects; the data was likely to be different.
The plan was to send questionnaires to the chosen contractors, but after unsuccessful returns it became apparent that another route would be needed, so interviews via telephone were deemed suitable. It seemed with written survey, contractors were inclined to take no notice of it or put a more generic thoughtless answer, While via a telephone interview response to the questions asked would be immediate and better, with no real confusion of what the question was asking as myself in person could explain.
The Highway contractors contacted were:
- Morgan est.
- Balfour Beatty
- May Guerney
A semi-structured set of questions was planned in order to gain the information required but also allowed telephone participant to elaborate and discuss the subject in a friendly professional manner. Contractors in Highways works were contacted, the dissertation of Risk Management was explained with the aims and objectives that needed to be achieved and asked the below queries:
- Does your company possess a methodology for the management of pretender risks?
- How does your company detect risks in the pretender phase?
- How does your company calculate final risk totals?
- Does your company undertake risk management after the contractual phase?
- ould I obtain a pretender and or contractual risk register to use in my research (for the Highways project you are on)?
Each Contractor interviewed was told research being undertaking intended in contrasting data in pretender phase against the contractual as well as any assessments made. The questions were supposed to see what processes companies used in managing risks. Overall the different companies were helpful in answering these questions. The Fifth and final question was done to get registers like that gained from SRM. It was the only difficult part as many refused to hand registers over from live projects due to the sensitivity of their data and company policies. However some registers were received but didn’t really contain the crucial information required just a formatted company risk register. Throughout the interviews, notes were made on the first four questions and the results put into a table at the time of the interview showing the company and their response to each question. Thus, making analysis easier when looking at the responses later in the dissertation.
2.6 Analysis of data
Prior to analysis, the research had assessed how SRM price risks. It was crucial in knowing this before as it established the type of analysis would that be approved, and is detailed below.
Upon formulating the risks that have been identified each risk will be categorised with maximum, most likely, minimum values and probability. The data was put through a programme @ RISK formulates hundreds of simulations, creating a graph showing the data. The 75th percentile is put in the final pretender as the final risk total. SRM do this for all of their projects. For this dissertation we were concerned in the risks recognised and individual costing risks as shown in paragraph above with min, max and probable etc. The focal point being what was keyed in to @ RISK as opposed to what it produces.
For the Data analysis the SRM contracts have been split into their individual projects and the Other Highway contractors. The reason for splitting the SRM’s projects was that the analysis varied in parts by way it had been collected as mentioned earlier (some with full risk registers some in part).
2.6.1 M1 J25-28s scheme and M74 Glasgow
Analysis for M1 and M74 projects were pretty much the same. The M1 contract and pretender risk register could be matched up to the pretender and contractual registers for the M74 contract risks, due to them being MACs.
In evaluating the accurateness of the risk registers and appraisals made, comparable risks to contractual register were then removed from the pretender. When comparing values in matching risks, it was vital to have a total value for both pretender and contractual registers.
The best and most impartial methods for pretender register were to average the minimum, maximum, probable figures then multiplying by likelihood of the event. These were a range of potential expenses which could be incurred by the risk, and any total cost was decided to be an average of these, as all projects had them. As its unknown as to it’s actually occurrence the average should be multiplied by the probability, which gives a total potential cost to the risk.
While the contract risk registers should be considered by severity and possibility by scale of 1-5, and then an assessment of the risk was undertaken, figuring out the most likely value as well as minimum and maximum.
Mitigation measures are identified for each risk, and then assessment was done again as before the mitigation. The M74 didn’t have min prices in its contractual register, therefore all risks were assumed to be zero. Without any minimum values any overall assessments of the risk would not have been made. The reason for not using the likely value instead was so the data would use a range of values. It was decided greater accuracy would be found in setting the minimum as zero and range of values than the most likely. By setting all its risks as zero means they are an unimportant minimum value or a risk/event that doesn’t happen. The M1 contract register had all the necessary values so no intervention was needed.
Both contract risk registers failed to show any probability, just a likelihood scale from 1-5. Therefore it was assumed, giving the scale a percentage instead, 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70% and 90%. Then the total appraisals of the contractual registers were done through an identical method. Where similar contractual risks could be distributable to a few pretender risks in a register or vice versa, the total appraisal amounts were split by the quantity of risk items, in preventing them being counted twice.
This was tabulated under the headings; the contract risks, pretender risks, information put into the registers, and total assessment. The contract risks were then categorised:
- Unrecognised however is protected (No value).
- Unrecognised but not protected – ought to have been recognised.
- Unrecognised – unable to recognise.
- Recognised while also protected.
- Identified yet unprotected.
Each risk was grouped by colour to state which category from above it fell in.
2.6.2 A19 upgrade
The breakdown of the A19 job was began in a similar way to the M1 J25-28 and M74 contracts. The measurement total cost for pretender register was done the same as in the other projects by averaging and the different range of values and dividing by probability of them occurring. When totalling the contract risks differences became apparent as the register calculated risks another way, as there were no costs.
So Instead they were measured under the probability and impact style grid, using severity status as guides, whether that be low, medium or high. So in order to measure the total value of risks would mean assigning each risk a value and probability based on the risk severity system used, then times the two numbers to get the total assessment for that given risk This therefore required the assignment of cost and probabilities to be accurate. So by using the Risk severity matrix as used by SRM, a cost could be associated to a certain risk level. With use of the grid SRM review probability/likelihood with a scale from 1-5 and assign costs in numerical order of the probability scale for impact:
Between £1,000 – £10,000
Between £10,000 – £100,000
Between £100,000 – £1,000,000
The figures above seemed a very useful guide and perfect to use, create a good range that could be easily used in analysis.
The likelihood’s for the risks events were given percentages instead of low, medium, high, so as to fit in to correspond and be like the information found in M1 and M74 projects, so:
Low being 10%,
Medium at 50%
These numbers were chosen as the provided not too certain outcomes for low and high at 10 and 90 percent, while the medium suited to being the mid point between the two figures. So in getting the total risk value, costs times’ probability. Then the rest of the analysis followed the same steps taken by M1 and M74 data analysis.
2.6.3 Analysis summary
The tables of data for all three projects showing the comparisons made are in the appendices. These tables were only a start in analysing data as they on their own only show limited information that cannot fully test the hypothesis.
So Risk recognition was key objective and so a list was formulated of any risks recognised, not recognised and not assessed, were omitted. From this list, risks could be categorised and therefore see which type of items could or could not be seen in pretender by the bid team. Now having had risks recognised and risks unrecognised as threats in pretender meant potentially testing a hypothesis as to whether pretender stage is inaccurate. From this new data 2 graphs were made highlighting and representing more clearly the type of items in registers that was recognised in pretender and those that weren’t.
A review table was then drawn to finally account for the contract risks and categorised as below:
- Unrecognised however is protected (No value).
- Unrecognised but not protected – ought to have been recognised.
- Unrecognised – unable to recognise.
- Recognised while also protected.
- Identified yet unprotected.
This table only really accounted for risks in pretender register which corresponded with contract risk, but not the other way round. So it didn’t account for all risks found in pretender bid or how many weren’t in the contract register. So a total evaluation of risks featured in the pretender bid but not in the contract register, so as to fully see the accuracy or inaccuracy of it. As a result a Pretender table of risks recognised at contractual phase was made and the total appraisals done at both pretender bid and contractual phase were compared and contrasted.
Last part glimpsed through inaccuracies of pretender register. Done by removing risks identified in pretender and contractual documents, the disparities then tabulated. The variations were categorised, and detailed in a Histogram.
2.6.4 Rival Highway Contractors
The ways in which the other Highway teams identified assessed risks at pretender stage, were investigated. This was done by referring back to the table formulated at the time of the interviews. Proceeding with recognition and classification methods, digging out the methods used, what company used what method type. The same was done for the appraisals of risk, so formed 2 pie charts showing the recognition and appraisal of the rival companies risk management processes. It illustrates the most popular methods used by the Highway Contractors’ interviewed. These methods were compared against the methods SRM use. Many of the companies did turn down the opportunity in handing over information, citied by them as the company policies not to do so and the information is delicate. However some registers were received but didn’t really contain the crucial information required just a formatted company risk. Also it proved difficult to obtain pretender and contractual registers, instead receiving one without having the other to compare against. Need to fill in contractors interviewed etc!!!!!
It was very helpful to look at the various formats of different registers that company’s used, and the informatio
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