Multi project environments of construction clients
The single project paradigm which dominates the literature of both project and construction management research does not accurately reflect the reality of many construction clients, who have large ongoing construction portfolios rather than one off construction projects. It is contended that the forces behind the multi-project environment (MPE) of construction clients are different to those traditionally viewed within the single project paradigm. Although several concepts of MPEs exist, an investigation of the form and dynamic interactions of components within MPEs of construction clients was lacking. The main objectives of the research were a) to determine the major factors influencing project delivery within the MPE, b) to investigate the interaction between these factors and the attributes of different forms of MPEs, c) to develop a typology of the MPE of construction clients, and d) suggest policies for effective management of MPEs. The MPEs of six construction clients were explored. The cases included a variety of retailers, a hotel group, a utility company and a housing and commercial developer to gain a range of perspectives within both primary and secondary experienced clients. Propositions were used as guidance for the investigation and analysis of the data, which consisted of interviews and organisational documentation. The data indicated that the business environment strongly drives the project inception process. However, the inherent uncertainty within the general environment causes a milieu of unpredictable change within the project delivery process, which in turn manifests in compromised performance and outcomes. Factors influencing the process are the lack of `continuity' within workload, contractual relationships, expertise and production, with concomitant effects on project outcomes. Suppliers perceive clients as `inhibiting continuity' thereby nullifying advantages inherent in repetitive and lean production principles. Other factors influencing the process are high planning authority intervention, low client commitment and low standardisation. Causal networks and an Influences model were used to graphically capture the dynamics of these factors within the MPE. 111 A typology of the MPE of construction clients was developed and validated through literal and theoretical replication between cases. Three main types emerged as descriptive of programmes within client's construction portfolios; Bounded programmes, Target programmes and Rolling programmes. The distinctive features of each type suggest that specific approaches are necessary for the successful delivery of projects within a portfolio. Solutions suggested by the data are presented.