Conceptual phase best practices
Construction projects comprise holistic and organic processes of the conceptual, detailed engineering, construction and start-up phases. The conceptual phase is the most critical phase in a project's life-cycle where the main strategic decisions are made. The success of other phases depends upon the decisions made during the conceptual phase. Although the conceptual phase presents the greatest opportunity for productivity improvement during the construction phase, it has been given relatively little attention. The main aim of this research was to establish the conceptual phase tasks and associated best practices for major projects that ensure good site productivity through decisions made in the conceptual phase. The aim was realised through the following five objectives: define tasks performed in the conceptual phase; rank the impact of conceptual phase tasks on site productivity; determine the impact of conceptual phase tasks on productivity in terms the main site resources of time, labour, plant, material and finance; establish the sequence with which tasks are performed in the conceptual phase; and establish Best Practices associated with each of the conceptual phase tasks. The research findings were based upon literature, an industry-wide postal questionnaire survey and case studies. The survey comprised a substantial twenty-page questionnaire containing 184 questions. The questionnaire was posted to 144 companies including clients, consultants, contractors and financial institutions throughout the European Union. A return of 37 per cent was achieved. The industry-wide survey was then followed by detailed case studies of six projects: a power plant; a chemical plant; a sewerage treatment plant; an offshore-structure; a motor way; and, a substantial building project. These case studies underpinned the survey and specific differences and similarities were highlighted among the six projects and the processes adopted during the conceptual stages. The industry-wide survey and complementary case studies formed the basis of recommendations for conceptual phase tasks and associated best practices achieving enhanced site productivity. It was concluded that the conceptual phase of construction projects comprised ten tasks: Consents and Permits; Project Definition; Financial Strategy; Project Planning; Contract Strategy; Project Management Organisation; Construction Philosophy; Procurement Strategy; Design of Temporary Works; and, Design of Permanent Structures. Eighty-one best practices relating to the conceptual phase were accepted by the respondents. These best practices, when adopted in the conceptual phase, should held to enhance site productivity.