Improving performance of construction companies

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Performance improvement is one of the most important areas in the field of project management. Many researchers try to find the instruments and ways to improve the performance. In this regards, this study considered maturity models as new instrument for performance improvement of construction companies. Maturity models published in last two decade and are new concept in the project management area. The extensive literature was critiqued in chapter 2 regarding the performance, success criteria, and maturity models. There are many criteria such as financial and non-financial criteria for measuring the performance but this study selected cost, time, quality and client’s satisfaction as the performance criteria among others. In regard to maturity models, the OPM3 was selected as suitable maturity model thorough qualitative method, existence literature and comparison of maturity models as discussed in chapter 3. Then, a questionnaire was distributed to Iranian construction companies with grade 1 and 2. The result of data analysis on chapter 4 showed that three main hypotheses and twelve sub hypotheses were accepted. This means that there is positive relationship between factors of OPM3 and performance of construction companies.

Recapitulation of the Study

This section recapitulates the relationship between factors of OPM3 performance. As mentioned in chapter 1, this study intends to answer the following objectives:

  • To study the relationship between the cost of construction projects and factors of OPM3 (as selected maturity model
  • To study the relationship between the time of construction projects and factors of OPM3 (as selected maturity model
  • To study the relationship between the quality of construction projects and factors of OPM3 (as selected maturity model
  • To study the relationship between the client satisfaction of construction projects and factors of OPM3 (as selected maturity model

A total of 3 main hypotheses were generated for this study. There are four sub-hypothesis for each hypothesis and four sub-sub hypothesis for each sub-hypothesis. All main hypotheses and sub-hypotheses were accepted. Among 48 sub-hypotheses, seven of them were rejected.

Discussion

Construction is essentially a project-based industry. Iranian construction projects like construction projects of other countries have problems in their performance especially in cost, time, quality, and client satisfaction objectives. Construction companies like other companies always looking to find new methods and tools for improving their performance.

Throughout the last two decades a number of institute and studies have introduced new methods, tools, and techniques to improve performance. This has led to the creation of new philosophies such as JIT, TQM, EFQM, TPM, Maturity Models, and etc. The main driver behind these philosophies is to optimize an organization’s performance both internally and externally by implementing these tools and methods.

Successful implementation of a project management method or tool requires more than just training project managers. A successful organization requires processes, technology, policies and standards for project management which also need to be integrated with other management systems for them to work effectively and efficiently.

Most organizations manage many interdependent or not related projects, programs and portfolios simultaneously. These projects, programs, and portfolios are nowadays essential to achieve the organizations’ strategic goals. Accordingly, effectiveness in implementing the strategy is directly correlated with project management capability. The systematic management of projects, programs, and portfolios in alignment with the achievement of strategic goals is defined as organizational project management.

The degree to which an organization practices this type of management is called its organizational project management maturity. Organizational project management maturity refers to the organization’s capabilities to accomplish individual projects, as well the organization's orientation toward selecting and managing projects individually and collectively in such a way as to support the organization’s strategic goals.

The use of the word "maturity" implies that capabilities must be grown over time in order to produce repeatable success in project management. The maturity also indicates understanding or visibility into why success occurs and ways to correct or prevent common problems. The proper level of maturity to which an organization should strive is determined during a detailed assessment conducted by a professional project management consulting team. The organization has achieved full project management maturity when it has met the requirements and standards for project management effectiveness and it is capable of demonstrating improvements such as on-time project delivery, cost reductions, and quality outcomes. Project management maturity is the progressive development of an organizations project management approach, methodology, strategy, and decision-making process. The appropriate level of maturity can vary for each organization based on specific goals, strategies, resource capabilities, scope, and needs.

Project management maturity provides a number of benefits: First, it provides objective evidence for executive management on the current state of project management within the organization; Second, it provides the metrics that improvements can be measured against; Third, it provides insight into the steps and priority of the steps to improve the maturity level; fourth, organizations will likely find pockets of excellence that can be standardized and used in the implementation; and fifth, it provides a forum for project mangers to express their feelings on the current state of the project management program.

This study found that increasing project management maturity lead construction companies to improve their performance. It can be mentioned that execution of standardization, measure, control, and continuously improvement for project management processes cause increasing maturity in organization. Following sections discuss results of this study in detail.

The relationship between Project domain and Performance

As with the actual application of project management, there are so many elements to be taken into consideration when talking about project management, and they need to be addressed in a timely fashion to ensure project success. A closer examination of these elements might shed better light on what project management is really about.

Leading is a key element, because project management requires leaders who can influence others to act in ways that will improve chances of project success. This might sound as a simple undertaking, but it isn’t. Influencing others is difficult because people are different. Each individual and even business entities have their own interests, values, concerns and background that are unique and require special attention and focus on the part of the leader, i.e. project manager, to successfully influence them. Another consideration related to leading is that leaders also cannot try to influence others at all costs. For long term success leading should be based on solid values and ethics. Leadership to succeed long term should be based on win-win mindset and fair basis.

The second element to consider is successful conclusion, which is usually defined in terms of finishing the project on time, within budget, with the right scope, and the right quality. Project Success is the goal of project management. It is the only reason why project management should be applied to a project. If a project can succeed without project management, then applying project management might be futile. The main reason companies around the world are implementing project management is because they are finding out that applying proper project management improves their chances of project success.

Planning is the backbone of project management. This is why it is considered an important element in project management. Companies report project success directly proportionate to the amount of time spent on planning. While most will agree that planning is key to project success, however, few managers are willing to commit or support a sufficient planning period on projects. Most managers are in a hurry to do, without taking enough time to prepare by planning. This leads to project failure.

Organizing is also a big part of project management. Organizing includes organizing work, people, and resources so they are utilized in the most optimal way possible to achieve project success. Organizing includes organizing work into a project, by defining clearly the scope of the project. What is included and more importantly what is not included in the project.

Another important part of organizing is dividing clearly the project work into phases, with clear deliverables from each phase. A better solution is to organize the work of the project into phases that become a roadmap towards project completion. Each phase answers some essential questions related to the project, reducing the risk and helping the team gain more knowledge and insight towards completing the final deliverable. For example, many projects start with a feasibility study. This will ensure that more information is available about the project and what it entails and its consequences before more money is committed to the project.

Controlling is another important part of project management. Nothing goes exactly as planned. This is why controlling is important. It gives insight into how well the project is progressing, compared to the plan.

Resources include people, organizations, material, equipment, facilities, and information used to accomplish project work. Of all of them, the hardest to manage might be the people aspect. It is a known fact that most project problems are caused by people, not technology. This is why the “people” aspect of project management is key to the success of a project manager.

Stakeholders are people or entities who influence or are influenced by the work of the project or its outcomes, or involved in the project work. These include clients, sponsor, project manager, team members, the performing organization, suppliers, the government, the public, end users, and many more. Managing stakeholders and their expectations is one of the toughest challenges faced by a project manager on a given project. Each of these stakeholders has varying interests and levels of influence on the project.

Understanding these stakeholders, their needs, their influence, whether positive or negative, is key to project success. Underestimating the effect a stakeholder has on a project, or her or his role on the project has led to many historical project failures.

Project environment includes things like culture and regulations. Understanding the project environment is key to a successful project manager. This includes organizational culture, cultural differences among stakeholders, market situation, competition, regulations, etc. All of these can greatly influence the project success. So, Leading projects to a successful conclusion by leading, planning, organizing, and controlling the project stakeholders, resources and the project environment, is what project management is about.

The results showed that project domain is positively related to performance. According to the results of this study there are positive relationship among stages of standardization, measurement, control and continues improvement at project level for project management processes and cost, time, quality and satisfaction as performance criteria. This indicates that the more a construction company implements stages of standard documented, measure, control, and continues improvement at project domain for project management processes, performance of company in terms of cost, time, quality and satisfaction improve. If a construction company wants to improve its performance in terms of cost, time, quality and client’s satisfaction, it should well utilized standard documented, measure, control and continues improvement stages at project level for project management processes. Implication of stages of standard documented, measure, control, and continues improvement at project domain for project management processes properly cause lower variation, better understand process’s capabilities, better identify detect trends and better anticipate problems that lead to stable processes and enabling construction companies to predict results.

According to the results of data analysis, all sub-hypotheses regarding relationship between project domain and cost, time, quality, and satisfaction accepted. In addition to all sub-sub-hypotheses about standard documented, control, and continues improvement and three out of four sub-sub-hypotheses about measure accepted. In other hand, all sub-sub-hypotheses except one of them accepted.

Project management process group are the important processes in the area of project management. They are initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing. These processes can be defined as follow:

Initiation Process

Any new project requires the whole organization to work as a team. The sole aim of this process of project management is to get the maximum input and commitment from all the concerned departments. The core process is to initiate and define the scope of the work.

Planning Process

Planning is a major activity of a project. The purpose of the planning process is to refine the project objectives and then plan the steps necessary to achieve those objectives within the project scope that was given. The output of the planning process is the project management plan.

Execution Process

This is the process of the project where all the components identified in the project plan come together in practice. This process aims to accomplish the tasks of the project by setting project resources at work. It includes a number of core and facilitating processes.

Controlling Process

Project controlling process supports the project planning and schedule process, by providing adequate visibility into actual progress results against planned. The sole aim is to provide the valuable input to achieve set target in the project management plan. It focuses on taking preventive or corrective action as per requirement to ensure timely completion of the project maintaining quality standards.

Closing Process

Project closure is a very significant activity, as it reflects the total sum of all the effort made in the project. This covers all the post-release activities starting from request for closing till the end of the safe archival of all the project related information. This process ensures closing activities are pre-planned and executed as per the schedule.

It is clear from this definition that project management is concerned with the dynamic allocation, utilization, and direction of resources (both human and technical), with time, in relation to both individual efforts and product delivery schedule, and with costs, relating to both the acquisition and consumption of funding. Within a program, these same responsibilities (i.e., allocation, utilization, and direction) are assigned to people at three levels in the management hierarchy; the higher the level, the more general the responsibilities. For example, at the bottom of the management hierarchy, project managers are assigned to the various projects within the overall program. Each manager carries out the management responsibilities that above described.

At the middle of the hierarchy is the program manager whose major responsibility is to ensure that the work effort achieves the outcome specified in the business. This involves setting and reviewing objectives, coordinating activities across projects, and overseeing the integration and reuse of interim work products and results. This person spends more time and effort on integration activities, negotiating changes in plans, and communicating than on the other project management activities (e.g., allocating resources, ensuring adherence to schedule, budget, etc.).

At the top of the program management hierarchy are the program sponsor(s) and the program steering committee. Their major responsibility is to own and oversee the implementation of the program's underlying business and to define the program's connection to the company‘s overall business plan(s) and direction. Their management activities include providing and interpreting policy, creating an environment that fosters sustainable momentum for the program (i.e., removing barriers both inside and outside the company), and periodically reviewing program progress and interim results to ensure alignment with the overall strategic vision.

These individuals receive periodic summary reports and briefings on funding consumption, resources and their utilization, and delivery of interim work products and results. Typically, they will focus on these reports only if there is significant deviation from the plan.

Project management is usually short-lived with specific time constraints while program management is an ongoing process in order to achieve the goals and objectives. A project management team works to identify the triple constraint of time, scope and cost of a project. Then, they plan and report on the delivery of the project. While the project is being accomplished the triple constraint is reviewed. At its close, the project management team will review and report on the accomplishment of the project. A program management team works to identify the mission, projects to be accomplished, and its close. The team provides support for the requirements of the projects. They monitor the program plan and keep track of information within the specific projects. After the completion of the project, it is reviewed and documented. The job of a project manager usually involves working on finite projects or objectives. The program manager works more often with strategy.

The results showed that program domain is positively related to performance. According to the results of this study there are positive relationship among stages of standardize, measure, control and continues improvement at program level for project management processes and cost, time, quality and satisfaction as performance criteria. This indicates that the more a construction company implements stages of standard documented, measure, control, and continues improvement at program domain for project management processes , performance of company in terms of cost, time, quality and satisfaction improve. The implications are, when a company provides a clear vision and intends to improve its performance utilizes stages of standardize, measure, control and continues improvement at program domain for project management processes.

According to the results of data analysis, all sub-hypotheses regarding relationship between program domain as independent variable and cost, time, quality, and satisfaction as dependent variable were accepted. In addition to, four sub-sub-hypotheses about standard documented one out of four sub-sub-hypotheses about measure, three sub-sub-hypotheses about control, and four sub-sub-hypotheses about continuous improvement accepted. In other words, four sub-sub-hypotheses at program level rejected.

As mentioned in the literature review program management and project management are not same although sometimes program management used interchangeably with project management. By considering the definition of program management, it can be said that the program management help to manage the set of projects by grouping them, directing them and initiating them. Program management establishes a bridge between projects and the strategic goals of companies. Construction companies may improve their performance by selecting, integrating and planning projects that can manage in a coordinated way. This not only help construction companies to achieve their strategic goals and objectives but also cause projects execute in the controlled manner that lead to completion projects with lower cost, lower time, better quality, and more satisfaction for client.

The relationship between Portfolio domain and Performance

One of the common problems faced by project-oriented organizations is having too many projects relative to their capacity. Every organization, at any point in time, has some primary source of limitation. Therefore, one of the first things that needs to be done is to determine what can be done is to determine what should be done and what should not be done. An appropriate priority process can be described as one that identifies projects that best support the organization's efforts for increasing its ability to achieve its goals.

Project portfolio management is about more than running multiple projects. Each portfolio of projects needs to be assessed in terms of its business value and adherence to strategy. The portfolio should be designed to achieve a defined business objective or benefit. Project portfolio management organizes a series of projects into a single portfolio consisting of reports that capture project objectives, costs, timelines, accomplishments, resources, risks and other critical factors. Executives can then regularly review entire portfolios and alocate resources appropriately.

Project portfolio management is the coordinated and controlled management of a portfolio of projects to achieve a set of business objectives. Project portfolio management is a management process designed to help an organization acquire and view information about all of its projects, then sort and prioritize each project according to certain criteria, such as strategic value, impact on resources, cost, and so on. The objectives of project portfolio management are similar to the objectives of managing a financial portfolio: 1) To become conscious of all the individual listings in the portfolio 2) To develop a "big picture" view and a deeper understanding of the the collection as a whole. 3) To allow sensible sorting, adding, and removing of items from the collection based on their costs, benefits, and alignment with long-term strategies or goals. 4) To allow the portfolio owner to get the "best bang for the buck" from resources invested.

Typically, project portfolio management begins with the organization developing an inventory (comprehensive list) of all its projects and enough descriptive information about each to allow them to be analyzed and compared. Such descriptive information can include project name, estimated duration, estimated cost, business objective, how the project supports the organization's overall strategies, and so on.

After the project inventory is created, the project portfolio management requires department heads or other unit leaders to examine each project and prioritize it according to established criteria. The overall list of projects is then considered in order to develop a well-balanced list of supported projects. Some projects will be given high priority and extensive support, some will be given moderate priority, and still others will be placed on hold or dropped entirely from the list. 

Finally, the project portfolio is reevaluated by the portfolio management team on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.) to determine which projects are meeting their goals, which may need more support, or which may need to be down-sized or dropped entirely. Since the circumstances of each project and the business environment can change rapidly, project portfolio management is most effective when the portfolio is frequently revisited and actively managed by the team.

If implemented properly, a project portfolio management provides a highly-effective way for large organization to manage their project environment and hence have impacts on usage of their resources, i.e., finances, people, equipment, and facilities. Resource allocation is a very important function of these project portfolio management. This includes all kinds of resources and capital including human and financial. Different stages of planning, budgeting and implementation are included within this function. Start and finish dates for projects are also established. Future projects can also be forecasted.

Many construction companies are faced with a portfolio of projects that need to be managed effectively and successfully. Project portfolio management is a set of business practices and a process that allows organizations to manage projects as a strategic portfolio, ensuring the alignment of programs and projects with organizational objectives. Executives need to regularly review entire portfolios and programs, determine why projects are or are not necessary, see where money is spent, prioritize projects, stage the start of new projects, spread resources appropriately and keep tabs on progress. Project portfolio management is a critical enabler for construction companies. For successful, construction companies must be able to visualize the requirements to meet objectives, determine the best combinations of new projects and existing systems to achieve the correct resource balance, and control unnecessary investments.

The results showed that portfolio domain is positively related to performance. According to the results of this study there are positive relationship among stages of standardize, measure, control and continuous improvement at portfolio level for project management processes and cost, time, quality and satisfaction as performance criteria. This indicates that the more a construction company implements stages of standard documented, measure, control, and continuous improvement at portfolio domain for project management processes , performance of company in terms of cost, time, quality and satisfaction improve, the results support by Reyck et al. (2005). The implications are, construction companies in portfolio domain by implementing standard documented for processes can reduce the processes variations and by measuring the processes can find weaknesses and strangeness of the processes and identifying opportunities for the processes improvement and by controlling the processes can reach to stable them and predict results. Theses help construction companies to reach their goals and objective in improving performance.

The results of data analysis indicated that all sub-hypotheses regarding portfolio domain are positively related to cost, time, quality, and client’s satisfaction. In addition to four sub-sub-hypotheses about standard documented, measure, and continues improvement and two out of four sub-sub-hypotheses about measurement were accepted. In other words, only two sub-sub-hypotheses at portfolio domain were rejected.

Shehu and Akintoye (2009) indicated that combination of the economic pressures, maturity and limitations of project management and the dynamic nature of the construction industry clients’ requirements has triggered the need for the adoption and implementation of program management as a de facto means of aligning, coordinating and managing a portfolio of construction projects to deliver benefits that would not be achievable if the projects were managed independently.

As mentioned earlier in the literature review, project management focuses on single project, and program management concerns the management of a set of projects that are related by sharing a common objectives or through interdependencies or common resources, portfolio management considers the entire portfolio of projects in order to make decisions in terms of which projects are to be given priority, and which projects are to be added to or removed from the portfolio. This is in accordance with Lycett et al (2004). In portfolio management area, construction companies can carry out a group of projects under particular management. By selecting project, prioritizing and reprioritizing projects, and allocating and reallocating resources to projects in terms of project’s priority, construction companies can improve their performance.

The relationship between standard documented for project management processes and performance

All sub-sub-hypotheses regarding the positive relationship of standard documented of project management processes and performance in terms of cost, time, quality and satisfaction accepted. This mean there is strong positive relationship between them. The findings also inconsistent with studies kerzner (2000), Milosevic and Patanakul (2005 and Xiaohong (2006) that concluded standardization may increase project success. They indicated project management process can improve project performance. Standardized project management process can result in less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays, and better use of time. In this regards, Brown and Eisenhardt [6] suggested that critical success factors can hinge on the degree of standardization of project practices. Standard documented of project management processes may have a positive correlation with project success. In other words, increasing degree of standard documented of the project management processes may lead to improved performance in terms of cost, time, quality, and satisfaction. Based on this logic, standard documented of the project management processes at project domain cause decreasing costs of executing project, unexpected costs and financial problems that lead to perform the project with the best price and reducing time of completing project, unexpected delays, and increasing construction speed and delivery speed, also better turn over quality, system and equipment quality, doing works according to the drawings, specifications and standards, deduction of work repetition, increase of client’s satisfaction in terms of product and service and deduction of numbers of claims and litigations .

Standard documented project management processes refers to a process of managing projects composed of standardized practices. The degree of absence in variation of implementing practices defines standardization. Accordingly, the lower the variation, the higher standardization; the more varied the practices, the less standardized they are. By reducing variation, projects can expect to save time and money, and increase quality and client’s satisfaction. That is the issue that increasing standardization, or reducing variation, in project management processes improves performance in terms of cost, time, quality, and client’s satisfaction. In other hands, standard documented project management process creates a predictable process. As a result, the process becomes repeatable regardless of changes in customer expectations and competitive landscape.

The application of the standard documented project management processes may help projects increase their timeliness and speed and satisfaction of their client, decrease their costs, and improve their quality. Our finding that higher standard documented project management processes means higher schedule-effectiveness implies that standard documented project management processes properly may lead to increased ability to meet schedule goals. The same thing can be concluded for the cost, quality and client’s satisfaction. This means standard documented project management processes properly may lead to increased quality and client’s satisfaction and decreased costs that all of these cause performance improvement.

Our finding means that deployment of standardization can enhance the capability to attain cost, time, quality, and client’s satisfaction goals and objective. The use of standard methods may help projects increase their performance in terms of quality (Lientz and Rea, 1999). The standard documented project management processes can help companies improve performance of projects. In summary, an avenue toward faster project cycle times, better quality, less financial problems and better cost management, and more satisfaction of clients lies in standardizing project management processes.

The implementation of standard documented project management processes in the organization would improve performance in terms of cost, time, quality and client’s satisfaction. These findings suggest that the increase of standard documented project management processes may improve the cost-driven project effectiveness significantly. The creating a repeatable, streamlined process could lead to lower costs. It implies that building the standard documented project management processes can help a company elevate accomplishment of project cost goals.

Thus, those construction companies using a standard documented project management processes minimize variation in how they are executed, and improve their performance. Standard documented project management processes may impact project success. The construction companies should create their standard documented project management processes in order to help project team to accomplish project goals and improving performance. This is because standard documented project management processes will enable companies to minimize uncertainty and variability in their processes.

The relationship between measurement for project management processes and performance

Eight out of twelve hypotheses were accepted regarding measure stage. This means there is positive relationship between measure stage and performance. This is in accordance with Thomas and Ferna´ndez ‘s ideas (2008) that indicated measurement have consistently strong positive impacts on project success.

Measurement of project management processes helps construction companies succeed by enabling them to understand process’s capabilities, so that they can develop achievable plans for increasing capabilities of process that lead to improving performance. Measurements of project management process may also enable construction companies to detect trends and to anticipate problems. This help construction companies to reach better control of costs, reduce time, improve quality, and satisfy clients and ensuring that strategic objectives are achieved.

A measurement stage is based on collecting and analyzing well-defined data. Analysis and interpretation of measurement data must be done within the context of other information about the process. Measurement data are neither bad news nor good news. Measurement results must be examined in the context of other information about process to determine whether action is required and what action to take. Unexpected measurement results generally require additional information to properly assess the meaning of the measurement.

A successful measurement stage must be included well defined data. Making effective decisions to control, stabilize, predict, and improve process performance requires confidence and assurance in the data. Clearly understood data facilitate correct analysis and help ensure that there is agreement on what is happening as well as what should be happening in project management process.

Defining a process creates the disciplined and structured environment required for controlling and improving the process. Although an organization may have defined a process, there is no guarantee that the organization can actually use it or properly execute it. There are many reasons why this may be so. This may happen because of several reasons such as lack of awareness, insufficient training, inadequate tools or facilities, difficulties in transferring technology, inadequate management support, and mismatches between the process and the software domain characteristics. Measurements help detect and diagnose these conditions. Measurements of project management processes are important not just because they can be used to describe processes, but because they can be used to control the processes, thus making future process performance predictable. Measurements of process can also be used to quantify process performance and guide construction companies in making process improvements. This may lead to improvement performance of construction companies in terms of cost, time, quality and performance.

Measurements of project management processes are the basis for detecting their deviations from acceptable performance. They are also the basis for identifying opportunities for process improvement. The key objectives of process measurement are to

• Collect data that measure the performance of each process.

• Analyze the performance of each process.

• Retain and use the data to

• Assess process stability and capability

• Interpret the results of observations and analyses

• Predict future performance

• Provide baselines and benchmarks

• Identify opportunities for improvement

Measuring performance of project management processes quantify and make visible the ability of processes. To measure process performance, we measure as many process performance attributes as needed, and we do this at several points in time to obtain sequential records of their behavior. When measurements of process performance vary inconsistently and unpredictably over time, the process is not in control. If measurements of process indicate that the process varies in unexpected or unpredictable ways, actions must be taken to remove assignable causes, stabilize the variability, and (if appropriate) return the process to its natural level of performance.

According to the results of this study four sub-sub-hypotheses were rejected in regards to the measure stage. Three of them were at the program domain. In addition, four out of seven sub-sub-hypotheses were rejected in this study which was all belonging to program domain. It can be said that these are because of some mistake in definition of program management in construction companies and altitude of construction companies regarding program management. These statements is supported by some researchers who mentioned that in the construction industry, organizations confuse program management with ‘schedule management’ (construction program – Gantt charts) or computer programming (programming languages such as Java, php etc.) (Pellegrinelli, 1997, Shehu and, Egbu, 2007). In this regards Ferns (1991) and Lycett et al. (2004) indicated that the term ‘program management’ is often used interchangeably with ‘project management’. in addition to Ferns (1991) believed that the precise definitions of program would be inconsistent with the way in which the word is used.

The relationship between control for project management processes and performance

The results showed that nine out of twelve sub-sub-hypotheses regarding control stage accepted. This indicates that there is positive relationship between control stage at three domains and performance. The result support by wang et, al. (2008) that concluded control of process have significant effect on performance.

The concept of process management is founded on the principles of statistical process control. When a process is under statistical control, they will vary within predictable limits. If the results of a process vary unexpectedly whether randomly or systematically the process is not under control and some of the observed results will have assignable causes. These causes must be identified and corrected before stability and predictability can be achieved.

Construction companies that want to attain control of their processes must ensure that they have a process whose variability is stable, for without stability we cannot predict results. Controlled project management processes are stable processes, and stable processes enable organization to predict results. This in turn enables organization to prepare achievable plans, meet cost estimates and scheduling commitments, and deliver projects functionality and quality with acceptable and reasonable consistency. If a controlled project management process is not capable of meeting customer requirements or other business objectives, the process must be improved or retargeted.

The first step in controlling a process is to find out what the process is doing now. All processes are designed to produce results. Controlling a project management processes mean keeping the process within its normal (inherent) performance boundaries that is, making the process behave consistently. Controlling a project management process means making it behave the way we want it to. Control enables organizations to do two things: predict results and produce products that have characteristics desired by customers. With control of project management processes, organizations can commit to dates when project will be delivered and what will be costs and what will be quality.

The implication is that organizations that can control their project management processes are able to predict their costs, schedules, quality of woks, and satisfaction of the customers. This leads them to improve their performance. In short, control is central to achieving the business goals and objectives that can make organization successful.

According to the results of this study, three sub-sub hypotheses rejected regarding the control stage and two of them were at the portfolio domain. By considering definition of the portfolio management it can be stated that portfolio management belong to the top management of the company. In other hand the portfolio management must be managed by director or deputy director or representative of director. It can be concluded that these managers may not have enough attention about controlling project management processes and they prefer other stages and issues in this regards. In other hands, they don’t have enough time for controlling the stages while the control stage take long time and because of this issue they rely on results of other stages.

The relationship between continuously improvements for project management processes and performance

All sub-sub-hypotheses regarding the continuously improvement were accepted in this study. This showed that the strong positive relationship between continuously improvement and performance in construction companies exist. The result is in accordance with Bessant et al., (2001) and Nilsson et al. (2005) that indicated Continuous improvement can help an organization to improve performance.

If the project management process is both stable and capable, the proper action is to seek ways to continually improve the process, so that variability is reduced and quality, cost, and cycle time are improved. Sub-processes can provide helpful insights into ways for improving process performance. Improving project management process capability requires making changes either to the process or its specifications. Once more, any changes to a process will transform the process into a new process whose stability must be established before company can rely on predictions of future performance.

There are two important things that must be considered when construction companies seeking ways to improve process performance:

• Process activities and sub-processes

• Things used within the process that originate outside the process

Project management processes can be improved by making changes that improve their existing capabilities or by replacing existing sub-processes with others that are more effective or efficient. In either case, the objectives of project management process improvement of an organization are to

• Understand the characteristics of existing processes and the factors that affect process capability.

• Plan, justify, and implement actions that will modify the processes so as to better meet construction company needs.

• Assess the impacts and benefits gained, and compare these to the costs of changes made to the processes.

Any company engaged in continuous improvement strategies will be able to substantiate its improvements by observing a large number of associated out-of-control processes (W. Edwards Deming, as reported by Hoyer and Ellis, 1996). Continuous improvement can be used to enable construction companies to continually improve their processes through small gradual changes rather than large scale change. In fact, a benefit of continuous improvement is that it can eliminate the need for large scale changes. It's evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. It's simple and constructive, rather than complex and potentially destructive.

If a project management process is not capable of consistently meeting its goals and objectives, or if an organization is to improve its performance in terms of cost, time, quality, and client’s satisfaction, organization will be faced with the need to continually improve project management process performance. Understanding the capability of the sub-processes that make up each process is the first step in making progress towards process improvement.

The implications are that organizational goals and strategies, as well as project management process performance, are the key drivers that lead to actions that improve performance. But just identifying the changes that are needed to improve a process is not sufficient. Construction companies must also look at the benefits that justify the costs associated with changing the process. When construction companies introduce improvements for their project management processes, the improvements will change the processes. Changes mean instability, and instabilities lead (at least temporarily) to lack of predictability. You will not get the most from further improvement actions until you achieve stability at the new level of performance. Finally, it can be concluded that continuous improvement is probably the most powerful concept to guide management. If companies want to survive they should accept changes continuously.

The goal is to continuously improve based on the lessons learned and new insights provided by the project. To be effective it should happen during all activities of the project. Continuous improvement, in regard to project quality always focuses on improving stakeholder satisfaction through continuous and incremental improvements to processes, including the removal of any unnecessary activities. By applying a process that continuously improves every element of the project can achieve better results than trying to wait until the end of a phase or a mid term evaluation to start making adjustments and improvements to the work. It requires little effort and by doing small incremental improvements the project can reach significant levels of quality.

To implement continuous improvements, it necessary to have a culture of reflection that allows the project team to learn from mistakes and apply the lesson on the next phase or cycle and not spend time and effort trying to put blame, otherwise, the team will fear reporting any problems with quality and it will be too late to do anything once the donor or the beneficiaries find out.

Contribution

This research conducted to find the new instrument for improving performance of construction companies performance improvement is ultimate dependent variable on the subject of project management. In this study OPM3 was selected among the maturity models as independent variable. The first contribution of this study is the selection of best maturity models among existing ones. However, there is no standard regarding the maturity models and there has not been enough studies regarding which maturity model is suitable among others in general or for construction companies in particular. In this research OPM3 was selected as suitable maturity model for construction companies based on existing literature and using qualitative method. Now, construction companies not only can assess their status according to this model but also they can compare their status with their competitors.

Researcher couldn’t find any research regarding the relationship between maturity models especially OPM3 and performance in construction companies. There are some studies conducted on software organizations mostly and in developed countries. These studies utilized CMM and Kerzner maturity model and concluded that when an organization shifts from one level to the next level of maturity then performance of that organization improves. The present study utilized factors of OPM3 instead of OPM3 on construction companies. Project management, program management and portfolio management are three main domains of OPM3. Standard documented, measurement, control and continuously improvement are four stages that OPM3 consider for project management processes at the three main domains. Most of the studies carried out at project management domain thus, testing the relationship of the four mentioned stages for project management processes at the program and portfolio management domains (as independent variables) and performance (as dependent variable) were other contributions of this study. The results showed that all hypothesizes regarding three domains were accepted. The results were in consistence with other studies and also added new contributions to construction companies. Now, construction companies can utilize new instrument which is called OPM3 for improving their performance. The results of this study indicated that standard documented, measure, control, and continuously improvement for project management processes at program management, and portfolio management are new variables for achieving performance improvement in construction companies. This means that construction companies can improve their performance by utilizing standard documented, measure, control, and continuously improvement for project management processes at project management, program management, and portfolio management domains.

Results of this study can encourage construction companies to implement OPM3 in their organization in order to improve their performance. Construction companies should focus on OPM3 and try to implement it as successfully as possible, because effective implementation of OPM3 would result in improvement of their performance in terms of cost, time, quality, and client’s satisfaction.

Construction companies in Iran are growing gradually. These companies could implement OPM3 in order to improve their performance. The companies which implement OPM3 could have competitive advantage compare to other construction companies.

Limitations

There are several noteworthy limitations associated with this research. As such, conclusions drawn from this study must be interpreted within the context of the following limitations. First, there are not enough studies on the field of maturity models. The maturity models are new concept in the field of project management. They have published after 1990. There are some study regarding maturity models but mostly they conducted in developed countries and in the some industries such as petrochemical and computer. The area of maturity models need more research in various scopes, countries, and regions.

Secondly, for Iranian construction companies, maturity models are a new concept. Recently some companies have become familiar with these models and are executing them. Since maturity models are new concept in Iran, they need more attention from both academic people and industries. Since maturity models are new concept and the process of executing them are time consuming, Iranian construction companies have not been able to see the results and benefits of implementing the model yet. In fact, Iranian construction companies need more time for understanding benefits of these models. The most important thing is that construction companies must trust these models. They must distinguish the differences between maturity models and ISO, EFQM, and etc. For example, ISO is a standard but the maturity models are instrument.

The next limitation is to what extent the findings can be generalized. The number of cases is limited for broad generalizations. The results were limited by the sample size. In this study random sampling was used in order to obtain a large number of completed questionnaires. Random sample chooses the construction companies at random. Random sampling does not represent the whole population, so it is considered a limitation for generalization of the study.

Therefore, a higher sample size would be better result at all. According to the Central Limit Theorem, increasing the sample size of any population results in a sample with a normal distribution. Therefore, the normality requirement is achieved whenever the number of cases in the sample is increased.

The forth limitation is that the respondents of this study were high level managers in the construction company, and they might had an interest to show that their company is in good position.

Finally, while the global project management profession has grown in recent years, it is not clear that different regions of the world necessarily always agree on the factor considered by OPM3. Therefore, if this research can be validated in other regions of the world as occurring in the same way, it may be possible for everyone to agree on the effect of factors of OPM3 on performance improvement of construction companies.

Future Research

The research’s results have identified several areas that require further research efforts. The following sections discuss suggestions for expanding upon the current research.

Firstly, future work can overcome limitations of the present study in terms of number of respondents and focusing in Iranian construction companies that it will help in generalizing the findings of the study. The future research can conduct on construction companies with other grades and also in other industries. In other hands, from the same perspective, a larger scope can be considered for future work. In this case, other types of companies should be included in the scope of the study.

Secondly, The area of maturity models are new and still need more research and proof regarding the relationship between maturity models and performance. In this regards, other researches must be conducted in other countries. In other words, scope of the research should be expanded geographically. Iran cannot provide a sound basis for a universally comprehensive and integrative model. Further diverse studies of equivalent groups in other industries, countries and regions are strongly suggested and would be most beneficial.

Thirdly, performance should be measured by more factors instead of these four factors. There are other factors including financial and non financial factors that can be used to measure performance. There are other variables that can be considered as dependent variable such as competitive advantage, strategic goals, and etc.

Fourthly, there are other tools in the area of performance improvement that must be considered in other research.

Fifthly, future research can be conducted to publish the new maturity models for construction companies. Although the existing maturity models include all the area and scope, construction companies desire to have their own maturity models. This is important because of unique characteristic and factors of construction projects compare to other industries. The construction companies need to have a special comprehensive maturity models that not only consider their unique characteristics and situations but also be simple, understandable and executable by them, and not be costly.

Finally, future research can look for other moderating and mediating variables that can affect performance.

Conclusion

Performance improvement is almost ultimate goal of companies. Construction companies like other companies attempt to achieve the high performance. Many studies conducted on performance and they suggested many ways to improve the performance. Thus, the purpose of this study was to find new way to improve performance of construction companies. This study utilized maturity models as new instrument in the field of project management to test them on performance. An interview was conducted with Iranian construction companies on maturity models and the OPM3 was selected as independent variable. This supported by existing literature and a comparison among maturity models as showed in the chapter 3. In the case of performance, cost, time, quality, and client’s satisfaction were selected as dependent variables among various variables suggested by previous studies. Then, a questionnaire was designed according to the factors of the OPM3 (was adopted from the OPM3 questionnaire) and performance variables. In the next stage, 220 sets of questionnaires were distributed among Iranian construction companies with grade 1 and 2. 103 sets of questionnaires were returned from the respondents. The collected data was analyzed with version 15 of SPSS. The result showed that the factors of OPM3 are positively related to performance improvement.

In conclusion this study utilized both qualitative and quantitative methods and concluded that construction companies can improve their performance by using proposed variables. Finally, it can be said that project management processes when effectively standardized, clearly measured, faithfully controlled, and continually improved at project management, program management, and portfolio management domains , it would improved performance of construction companies.

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