Maarten Wessels - Universiteit Wessels Control vs ... 2.1.1The Dubai Business Environment ... 2.6 Strategic Thinking

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  • Maarten Wessels

    Control vs. Uncertainty for Construction in a Volatile Environment;

    A review of Dutco Balfour Beattys tender process

  • Control vs. Uncertainty for Construction in a Volatile Environment;

    A review of Dutco Balfour Beattys tender process

    by

    Maarten Wessels

    Submitted to the Faculty of Management & Governance in partial fulfilment of the degree of Bachelor of Science

    at the

    University of Twente

    December 2007

    Bachelor Thesis Industrial Engineering & Management20th of December 2007

    Author: Maarten A.J. WesselsStudent number 0015938Faculty of Management & GovernanceUniversity of Twente

    Supervisor: Drs. Johan A.M. de KruijfFaculty of Management & GovernanceDepartment of Finance & Accounts University of Twente

    Co-reader: Ir. F.M.J.W. van den BergFaculty of Management & GovernanceDepartment of Operations, Organization and Human Resources University of Twente

  • Control vs. Uncertainty for Construction in a Volatile Environment;A review of Dutco Balfour Beattys tender process

    1

    Management SummaryThe hardest part of construction is controlling (balancing) uncertainties deriving from the external environment. This control process starts with devising a qualitative and mature tender, on which the contractual agreement for the project rests. If mistakes are made here, they will be hard torecover from once the construction starts. Construction contracts are awarded based on the tender handed in. The better the tender, the higher the possible profit. For DBB the performance of itstender process appears to be declining; the level of quality and maturity of its tenders is too low.

    To create a qualitative and mature tender you need to adequately identify and assess theuncertainties deriving from the external environment (risk management). The key factor incontrolling uncertainties in the tender process is sufficient experienced personnel, who can only work properly if they are supported by the right operating tools (i.e. facilities, IT) andorganization structure. In this thesis several possibilities for improvement of these tools and thus improvement of the risk management are given.

    Now the number of experienced staff is getting too low to ensure quality and maturity of tenders. The Dubai construction market has a high demand for experienced personnel. Experienced staff is lost to competitors who offer better compensation and few new experienced staff is searched and trained to fill the gap. Better compensation for experienced personnel and more active training of staff can ensure a higher level and higher number of experienced personnel.

    Corporate culture in DBB is not suited for the tender process to deal with its environment.Motivation and high performance in large parts of the staff is low. Especially amongst Asian staff there are highly educated personnel with low motivation. In an environmental situation with high risk decision and fast feedback, management should steer towards a culture in which highperformance is stimulated through rewards. This can bring about undiscovered or overlookedtalent in the current staff.

    Right now DBB pays little attention in maintaining and developing the knowledge andintellectual assets it has embodied in its staff. The wheel is frequently reinvented and valuableexpertise is easily lost. IT solutions should be implemented to promote KM. KnowledgeManagement (KM) can be very valuable in assessing risk and opportunity.

    The vertical rigid organization structure in DBB isnt suited for the environment, strategy andcurrent state of technology that apply to the tender process. A horizontal matrix approachprovides a better structure. In this approach room can be created for two new closely relateddepartments that cover the responsibility for Planning & Engineering and Estimating (andQuantity Surveying) for the whole of DBB. This type of organization stimulates efficient use of human resources (experienced staff), adaptability to a changing environment, development ofboth general and specialist skills, better possibilities for communication and cooperation,expertise available to all divisions and the facilitation of KM. Effectively this will lead to better risk management in the tender process and less double work.

    This case study is directed at the functional level strategy applicable to the organization behindand management of the tender process. Right now, actions undertaken in DBBs tender process are primarily ruled by a short term view. If improvement of the functional level strategy is to be successful, all decisions concerning this improvement should be made based on a long term view and with interrelationship and the synergy effects of the different aspects (HR, culture, structure, IT and control) of DBB and its tender process in mind.

  • Control vs. Uncertainty for Construction in a Volatile Environment;A review of Dutco Balfour Beattys tender process

    2

    PrefaceIn the beginning of May 2006, I got a very pleasant email from Mr. Nagarajan, Senior Manager Sales & Marketing for Dutco Tennant LLC, telling me he had arranged for me to do myinternship to finish my bachelor thesis in Dubai with Dutco Balfour Beatty. For this I owe himmy gratitude. The same goes for Mr. Grahame McCaig, General Manager for DBB, whoauthorized and prepared final arrangements. All the arrangements made and the guidance were perfect. For this I would also very much like to thank Santhosh Kumar Parayil. He was therewhenever I needed him.

    Once I started my internship, Angelo Manesero took me under his very friendly wing and guided me through the pleasant world of DBB. Without him I would have been lost from the start. The continuous stream of advice and information he provided, whether asked for or not, were verywelcome in my research and in my experience of Dubai.

    Furthermore I would like to express my gratitude to all the employees in Dutco Balfour BeattyGroups head office and to all the people who were willing to take the time to show me around the different construction sites DBB occupies. Every single person, especially those in theEstimating department, made me feel at home right from the start and put everything out of their way to answer my many questions, a large number of which had nothing to do with my research.

    Much oblige goes to Frank van den Berg, my co-supervisor, who has helped me fine tune mythesis and supported me by in great detail reading and correcting my work wherever he deemed it necessary. His advice has proven to be very useful in writing a fulfilling report.Last but definitely not least I would like to take the opportunity here to very much thank Johan de Kruijf, my internship supervisor from the University of Twente. Whenever I emailed him withupdates and questions he would have an answer ready for me within several hours, I even gotemails timed at nine or ten oclock at night.His feedback and quick responses have made me feel much more at ease with and confident about my research and findings. His help with and critique on writing the final report has made this a true learning experience for me.

    Without all of you I would not have been able to do this. I hope everyone who reads this paper will enjoy themselves, gets interested and maybe pick up a few things here and there.

    Maarten Wessels

  • Control vs. Uncertainty for Construction in a Volatile Environment;A review of Dutco Balfour Beattys tender process

    3

    Contents1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 4

    1.1 The Dutco Balfour Beatty Group (DBBG) ................................................................. 41.2 Civil and Building Engineering Operations (DBB)..................................................... 41.3 The Tender Process.................................................................................................... 41.4 Motivation................................................................................................................. 51.5 The Research ............................................................................................................. 6

    1.5.1 Research Question and Objective........................................................................... 61.5.2 Methodology ......................................................................................................... 71.5.3 Information Gathering ........................................................................................... 7

    2 Theory................................................................................................................................ 92.1 Uncertainty................................................................................................................ 9

    2.1.1 The Dubai Business Environment .......................................................................... 92.2 The Internal Environment .........................................................................................102.3 The Organization of the Tender Process ....................................................................112.4 Planning and Estimating ...........................................................................................13

    2.4.1 Risk Management .................................................................................................132.4.2 Knowledge Management ......................................................................................14

    2.5 Targets and Performance ..........................................................................................152.6 Strategic Thinking ..............................................................................................