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It is vital to select the right project bidders, as this affects the success of a project. Although there are numerous methods for assessing bidders, communication is rarely taken into account. This paper discusses the results of a survey on communication key performance indicators (KPIs) and the success of construction projects. Data were collected from 390 construction partners in Spain. The results indicate that the most significant communication KPI is the quality of information: basically, its accuracy and timeliness. In addition, experienced respondents placed less importance on communication flow structures and communication management than did inexperienced respondents. Experienced respondents distrusted new trends and/or management theories and mainly relied on experience. The findings also reveal that the communication flow structure, the communication and information management plan, and the channels of communication are relevant aspects for the success of a project. The results of this research can be used to assess bidders' communication abilities and systems.
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Forcada N; Serrat C; Rodríguez S; and Bortolini R. Communication Key Performance Indicators for
Selecting Construction Project Bidders. Journal of Management in Engineering, 2017, 33 (6) doi:
<10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000552>.
Final version available at: < http://ascelibrary.org/doi/10.1061/%28ASCE%29CF.1943-5509.0000368>.
Communication key performance indicators (KPI) for selecting construction
project bidders
Nuria Forcada1, Carles Serrat2, Sonia Rodríguez3 and Rafaela Bortolini4
1Associate Professor, Department of Project and Construction Engineering (DPCE), Group of
Construction Research and Innovation (GRIC), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Colom, 11,
Ed. TR5, 08222 Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain. E-mail: nuria.forcada@upc.edu (corresponding author)
2 Associate Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics 1, School of Building Construction of
Barcelona, UPC. Dr Marañón, 44-50, 08028, Barcelona, Spain. E-mail: carles.serrat@upc.edu
3 Researcher, Department of Project and Construction Engineering (DPCE), Group of Construction
Research and Innovation (GRIC), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Colom, 11, Ed. TR5,
08222 Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain. E-mail: rdguezsonia@hotmail.com
4 Researcher, Department of Project and Construction Engineering (DPCE), Group of Construction
Research and Innovation (GRIC), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Colom, 11, Ed. TR5,
08222 Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain. E-mail: bortolinirafaela@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
It is vital to select the right project bidders, as this affects the success of a project.
Although there are numerous methods for assessing bidders, communication is rarely
taken into account. This paper discusses the results of a survey on communication key
performance indicators (KPI) and the success of construction projects. Data were
collected from 390 construction partners in Spain. The results indicate that the most
significant communication KPI is the quality of information: basically its accuracy and
timeliness. In addition, experienced respondents placed less importance on
communication flow structures and communication management than inexperienced
respondents. Experienced respondents distrusted new trends and/or management
theories and mainly relied on experience. The findings also reveal that the
communication flow structure, the communication and information management plan
and the channels of communication are relevant aspects for the success of a project. The
results of this research can be used to assess bidders’ communication abilities and
systems.
Author keywords:
key performance indicators, communication parameters, information management,
quality
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1. INTRODUCTION
Traditionally, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry has used
standard project delivery methods, such as design-build and design-bid-build (Ghassemi
and Becerik-Gerber, 2011). These methods consider performance metrics such as
budget, quality, delivery speed, and compliance with user expectations (Asmar, Hanna
and Loh, 2015). However, project delivery methods are changing and the principles of
collaboration and integration are becoming increasingly important in construction
projects (Costa and Tavares, 2012). Traditional project practice is being replaced by
collaborative approaches, such as integrated project delivery (IPD) (Osman et al., 2015),
in which project participants come together as a close team, and the focus is
transparency and open communication among all partners (AIA, 2007). Management of
multiple partners and the communication and collaboration between them is crucial, to
maintain an acceptable balance between their interests (Karlsen, 2002; Yang and Shen,
2014).
In those collaborative methods the designer, the contractor and the client are the prime
players. Either the designer and the contractor create a joint venture or not, the client
should ensure that both parties make good team partners to enhance the likelihood of
the success of the project. Then, selecting the right bidder for the right project is the
main challenge for any construction client (Scott-Young and Samson, 2008; Yang and
Shen, 2014; Chang and Shen, 2013). Generally, there is a prequalification process in
which bidders are classified into categories according to factors such as financial
stability, past performance, experience, resources, technical ability, quality assurance,
etc. Then, the prequalified bidders present their offers, which are evaluated mainly on
the basis of schedule and cost performance metrics (Palaneeswaran and Kumaraswamy,
2000; Arditi and Chotibhongs, 2005; Jepsen and Eskerod, 2009; Asmar, Hanna and
Loh, 2015). However, this evaluation should be based on a set of multiple decision
criteria that are not only economic, but also technical and managerial (Perrenoud et al.,
2017). Given that project management is becoming a collaborative process, the
inclusion of communication aspects in the call may force bidders to plan
communication and to prepare more accurate tenders, which would minimize the risk of
unexpected problems during project execution.
Considering the changes in project practices, the aim of this paper is to explore the
importance of communication key performance indicators (KPI) for the success of a
project, by analysing the perceptions of project partners themselves. This paper does not
focus on whether or not to include communication parameters in a bidding process, but
on which parameters are relevant to assess communication.
2. KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS FOR PROJECT COMMUNICATION
MANAGEMENT
In both IPD and traditional project delivery methods, a range of skills and technology
are required that involve people from different professional backgrounds such as
architecture, structural engineering, quantity surveying, civil engineering and project
management (Cheng et al., 2001). Cooperation between project partners with
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multidisciplinary skills is essential, and effective communication is fundamental to
create the alliances that are required for a successful project (Cheng et al., 2001).
Several studies have highlighted the importance of communication to the success of a
project (Davis, 2014; Chang and Shen, 2013; Jha and Iyer, 2006; Prahinski and Benton,
2004) and defined communication KPI, which can be organized into four categories:
Communication flow structures, Communication management, Media and channels, and
Quality of information.
2.1. Communication flow structures
Among other KPI, communication flow structures are considered important for the
success of a project (Mohamed and Stewart, 2003; Cheng et al., 2001; Jha and Iyer,
2006). In fact, Mohamed and Stewart (2003) consider that information flows associated
with inter-organizational communication are the main key of project information
management. However, Cheng et al. (2001) and Busseri and Palmer (2000) state that
inter-intra organizational structures such as alliances establish communication
mechanisms and help to achieve efficient, effective communication, which is essential
to meet the objectives of a construction project. Open communication is increasing,
with a rise in alliances in projects in which contractors, architects, engineers and
subcontractors share a room, called a big room, and constantly interact and give each
other feedback (Ghassemi and Becerik-Gerber, 2011).
The flow structures for communication among partners can be divided into: central,
informal, hierarchical and mixed (Chen et al 2001) (Figure 1). A central structure is a
kind of formal partnership in which a central unit serves all parts of the project and
creates channels of communication. An informal structure is a kind of informal
association with a virtual, dynamic structure that facilitates the exchange and sharing of
information, since all parties are coordinated horizontally and communication is
transmitted in all directions. Hierarchical structure is found when relationships are
hierarchical, with restricted information diffusion that flows insufficiently. Finally, the
mixed structure includes a central element through which key parties control the work
of other parties using the necessary communication channel that is attached to it. The
coordination structure remains hierarchical (Chen et al., 2001).
Figure 1. Organizational communication flow structures among stakeholders
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2.2. Communication management tools
Another aspect to consider in communication management is the implementation of
tools such as quality management systems, communication manuals, communication
plans, a head of communication and a budget for communication management.
Communication management promotes communication among all members of an
organization, helps to bring corporate goals in line with staff objectives, increases the
cohesion of team members, and reduces sources of conflict. It also contributes to the
creation of spaces for information, participation and opinion. In fact, communication
management is one of ten project management knowledge areas (Project Management
Institute, 2013) and includes the process required to ensure proper collection and
dissemination of project information.
2.3. Media and channels
Proper, frequent communication with partners is essential to maintain commitment
(Yang et al., 2011), and thus ensure the success of a project. Short, informal lines of
communication as well as regular construction control meetings among project teams
help to achieve the desired quality level in a construction project (Chen, et al., 2013; Jha
and Iyer, 2006). Proper selection of communication media and channels depends on the
amount and/or importance of the information that needs to be sent (Dainty, 2006), the
geographic location of the project management team, the number (Armstrong 2003) and
type of receivers (Prahinski and Benton, 2004) and the characteristics of the available
channels, such as transmission speed, capacity and quality.
2.4. Quality of information and communication
Information is the message of communication and is essential to effective
communication. It should be concise, clear, available to staff who need it, and easy to
understand and access. Chang and Shen (2013) considered that clarity of
communication is vital to effective coordination of a project. If communication is clear,
all parties can understand the information transmitted to them (Chang and Shen, 2014).
A core issue is effective management of information, both in the form of information
flows that permit rapid inter-organizational transactions between project partners, and in
the form of information that is accumulated, coded and stored in companies’ database
structures. Current structures combine the most advanced and complex systems,
resulting in more information flowing more quickly from a greater number of personnel
at any given time (Laufer et al., 2008). Therefore, timely, accurate information is
important for all project partners, because it forms the basis of decisions and is how
physical progress is achieved (Mohamed and Stewart, 2003). The quality of information
can be assessed by considering its relevance, accuracy, reliability and timeliness (Low
and Mohr, 2001).
3. RESEARCH METHOD
Communication plays an important role in the success of construction projects, so it is
crucial to establish a set of criteria through which communication capabilities are
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correctly measured and judged. The methodology used to identify the most critical
indicators consisted of three primary steps.
In the first step, we reviewed studies that discuss in particular detail the most
appropriate criteria for evaluating communication aspects that support decision-making
during the bidding process. These indicators were classified into four categories:
Communication flow structures, Communication management tools, Media and
channels, and Quality of information and communication.
In the second step, a questionnaire survey based on the literature review was
administered to identify the most critical communication indicators for the success of a
project and supporting decision-making during bidding.
Finally, the importance of each KPI and the correlation between respondents’ degree
subjects and experience in their role was analysed.
The data were analysed using the Minitab® for Windows statistical package by Minitab
Inc. (release 16) to determine the critical communication indicators.
A chi-square (x2) test was used to determine the dependence between degree subject
and the identification of critical communication indicators. This test allows a
comparison of observed and expected frequencies. In a chi-square test, the null
hypothesis is that the two sets of frequencies (i.e., observed and expected) are equal.
The alternative hypothesis is that they are unequal. To identify variables with significant
correlations at the 95% confidence interval, asymptotic significance (the p value) should
be less than 0.05. To reduce the chance of obtaining false-positive results, the
Bonferroni correction is used. The Bonferroni method reduces the critical significance
level according to the number of independent tests carried out in the study.
An ordinal logistic regression was used to interpret how years of experience was
associated with the identification of critical communication indicators. For continuous
independent variables, ordinal logistic regression is used to interpret how a single unit
increase or decrease in the variable (e.g., a one-year increase or decrease in age) is
associated with the dependent variable. The β coefficient describes the effect of a
variable on the response, such that a positive β indicates a tendency for the response
level to decrease as the variable decreases.
4. QUESTIONNAIRE SURVEY
The questionnaire was based on the literature, and designed for experienced
construction participants, who were asked to choose from a list of options, rank KPIs,
and add comments with explanations. A 5-point ordinal scale was used: Very High,
High, Medium, Low and Very Low or, in some cases, Very Good, Good, Regular, Bad
or Very Bad.
The questionnaire was divided into the following sections (see Appendix S1.
Communication KPI questionnaire):
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Section 1: Interviewee's details, including university degree (Engineer / Technical
Engineer / Quantity Surveyor / Architect, Supplier / Quality Controller), and
experience in role (from 1 to 15 years as a Developer / Consultant / Project Manager
/ Construction Manager / Contractor / Designer / Supplier / Quality Controller).
Section 2: Intervieweees were asked to rate the importance of the KPIs
(Communication flow structures, Communication management tools, Media and
channels, Quality of information and communication, Management areas) for the
success of a project.
Section 3: Interviewees were asked about different factors within the selected KPIs.
Communication flow structures: the questionnaire contained items to rate the
importance of different types of communication flow structures (central, informal,
hierarchical or mixed) for the success of a project.
Communication management tools: the questionnaire contained items to qualify
the relevance of different communication management tools, such as quality
management systems, communication manuals, communication plans, a head of
communication, and a budget for communication management.
Media and channels: the questionnaire contained items about the effectiveness of
different media in the communication process. Concerning the channel, the survey
asked about the effectiveness of verbal channels such as face-to-face communication,
mobile phones, video calls and teleconferences; and written channels including
letters, notes, reviews, minutes, e-mails, messages, web-based systems, Facebook,
Twitter and faxes.
Quality of information and communication: the questionnaire focused on the
relevance of information quality to the communication process, and related factors
such as timeliness, veracity, centralization, documented systems, digitalization,
standardization, systematization and change control.
Management areas: the questionnaire contained items to rate the importance of
communication management in different management areas of the construction
process.
5. SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS
To identify the most critical communication indicators for the success of a project and
supporting decision-making during the bidding process, a questionnaire survey was
administered to Spanish registered construction professionals.
The survey was administered online, which allowed quick and easy access, and
systematic collection of responses.
The link to the survey was published in the newsletters of various construction
associations, and a total of 90 answers were obtained. To enlarge the sample, the survey
was sent by e-mail to the distribution lists of these associations (5480 associates), and
422 answers were obtained.
Of the 512 questionnaires that were collected, 15 were discarded because the
respondents answered "never" in the section on experience as a stakeholder, and 107
were considered incomplete because less than 60% of the questions had been answered.
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Thus, 390 valid questionnaires were used for the analysis. A sample is representative
when , where n is the sample size, Z is the selected critical value of
desired confidence level, p is the estimated proportion of an attribute that is present in
the population, q = 1- p and e is the desired level of precision (Cochran, 1977). For the
goals of the research, the minimum representative sample size for the worst scenario (p
= 0.5) with a 95% confidence level (i.e. Zα = 1.96) and 5% precision (e = 0.05) is 385.
The sample size does not change much for populations larger than 100,000 (Cochran,
1977).
Of the respondents, 36.4% were Quantity Surveyors, 29.2% were Engineers, 22.1%
were Architects, and 12.3% were Technical Engineers.
On average, each respondent had worked in three different roles. More than one fifth of
respondents had worked as consultants (21.6%), followed by contractors (16.8%),
designers (15.3%), project managers (15.1%) and construction managers (14.8%).
Finally 10.3% of respondents had worked as developers, and a minority as product
providers and quality controllers (2.9% and 3.2% respectively) (see Table 1).
Role
Experience (years)
(0-1]
(1-5]
(5-10]
>15
Total
Developer
12
53
24
12
112
Professional advisor
8
53
57
87
236
Project manager
9
33
41
64
165
Construction manager
12
43
37
51
162
Contractor
28
66
46
25
183
Designer
14
45
41
41
167
Product provider
7
12
6
5
32
Quality controller
11
13
9
2
35
Table 1 Sample distribution
Regarding the years of experience, more than 50% of the respondents had from 1 to 10
years of experience; and more than 25% had over 15 years of experience.
6. RESULTS
6.1. Importance of the KPIs for the success of a project
Quality of information was identified as the most important parameter for
communication (73.4% of participants selected Very High and High values), followed
by Communication management at 63.5% (See Table 2).
In fact, quality of information is essential to effective coordination of projects (Laufen
et al., 2008), since it minimizes misinterpretation and misunderstanding by parties
(Chang and Shen, 2013).
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Parameters
Very High (%)
High (%)
Medium (%)
Low (%)
Very Low (%)
Organization
17.0
42.5
25.5
10.1
4.9
Communication
Management
23.6
39.9
21.8
11.7
3.1
Media and channel
13.0
46.9
30.5
8.1
1.6
Quality of information
32.3
41.1
17.3
7.0
2.3
Com. quality manag.
Areas
13.5
36.2
33.3
13.5
3.4
Table 2. Qualification of the importance of each communication KPI for project success
6.2. Communication flow structures
When inter-organizational communication was evaluated, mixed hierarchical
organizations with a central element for communication (D-type 67.6%) and horizontal
communication channels were considered the best communication flow structures by
the respondents. The implementation of completely open communication (B-type)
requires a change in traditional construction project methods, and the need to cross
some barriers (Ghassemi and Becerick-Gerber, 2011).
The appointment of a head of communications was the most relevant factor considered
in communication management (60.8%) (See Table 3). This finding is consistent with
results on the type of organization, in which there was a strong preference for
centralization to improve communication. This parameter was followed by the existence
of a quality management system (53.0%), with a rather high value given to information,
communications planning (46.6%) and, finally, the existence of a communication
budget (39.3%) and a communication manual (34.9%).
6.3. Media and channels
In reference to communication media and channels, respondents believed that written
media were better than oral media. These results are in contrast with those of Laufer et
al. (2008), who found that managers of the most successful projects preferred verbal
communication. Potentially, the geographic location of the study and cultural
characteristics could have caused this divergence. This is an interesting finding, but it
was not the aim of this paper. Although oral communication was not generally
preferred, all respondents considered that for a project to be successful, information
must be written down and easily accessible, as this formalizes decisions and changes.
Respondents’ preferred verbal communication channel was face-to-face, followed by
mobile phone, and finally video call and teleconference. The preference for face-to-face
communication was expected, as it also includes nonverbal communication (Stanton et
al., 2007). The low scores for the other channels could be attributed to the availability of
technology. In terms of written communication, Table 3 shows a high preference for the
use of e-mail, messages, web-based systems, Facebook or Twitter, followed by fax.
9
Very High /
Very good
(%)
High / Good
(%)
Medium /
Regular (%)
Low / Bad (%)
Very Low
/ Very
bad (%)
Structures for communication
A
9.6
36.1
30.7
19.5
4.1
B
7.4
14.0
21.7
36.1
20.8
C
2.9
20.2
38.8
30.4
7.7
C
23.7
43.9
23.1
7.7
1.6
Communication management
Quality man. syst.
13.6
39.4
29.4
12.6
5.0
Manual com.
5.0
29.9
40.5
18.3
6.3
Com. Planning
7.3
39.3
37.7
13.0
2.7
Com. Head
17.6
43.2
25.2
11.3
2.7
Com. budget
10.3
29.0
30.4
23.0
7.3
Media and channel
Verbal communication
10.9
39.8
39.1
6.9
3.3
-Face to face
33
54.2
11.1
0.7
1
-Phone
2.3
45.3
43.9
8.2
0.3
-Video call
2.8
28.6
48.9
13.7
6
-Teleconference
2.8
29.1
47.8
13.7
6.6
Written communication
22.1
59.4
15.8
2
0.7
-Letter / notes / reviews
11.5
40.2
35.5
10.4
2.4
-E-mail /WhatsApp /
web based systems /
29.3
55.8
11.3
3.3
0.3
Facebook / Twitter
-Fax
11.5
58.3
24.3
4.9
1
Media and channel
Timely
48.7
43.3
6.0
1.3
0.7
Veracity
45.3
43.6
9.5
1.3
0.3
Centralization
25.2
49.8
20.9
3.4
0.7
Documented system
24.1
55.4
19.5
0.7
0.3
Digitalization
33.1
44.9
16.2
5.1
0.7
Standardization
20.5
40.9
28.7
7.5
2.4
Systematization and change
control
39.0
42.4
15.6
2.0
1.0
Management areas
Integration
35.1
47.5
14.7
2.4
0.3
Scope
25.2
53.0
19.1
1.7
1.0
Time
21.4
49.5
25.7
2.7
0.7
Costs
27.9
46.0
21.4
3.7
1.0
Quality
24.6
46.1
23.9
4.0
1.4
Human resources
17.6
49.0
26.7
4.4
2.3
Risks
19.0
50.2
24.6
4.1
2.1
Procurement
16.0
46.8
30.0
6.5
0.7
Table 3 Importance of communication by KPI
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6.4. Quality of information and communication
Regarding the quality of information, timeliness was considered the most important
characteristic of information for the success of a project, followed by veracity. Thus,
timely, accurate information transmitted between all project participants is essential to
decision-making (Mohamed and Stewart, 2003).
6.5. Management areas
Finally, communication management was considered very important in the Integration
and Scope areas of the construction process; important in the Cost, Time and Quality
areas; but not as important in Risk, Human Resources and Procurement Management.
6.6. Importance of the KPIs for the success of a project by degree subject and
experience in a role
Results were also analysed by the respondents’ degree subject and experience in a role.
Table 4 presents a summary of significant p-values for the chi-square test (p<0.05) and
the Bonferroni correction between degree subject (p<0.05/4 =0.0125) and experience in
a role (p<0.05/5 =0.01), versus the importance of different communication parameters.
The importance given to communication flow structures (p = 0.003<0.0125) and quality
of information (p = 0.002<0.0125) KPIs varied depending on the respondents’ degree
subject. This difference is mainly because of the kind of work professionals carry out
and the time they spend on site, which requires different communication systems.
Respondents’ perceptions about the importance of media and channels of
communication such as video calls (p = 0.006<0.0125) also varied according to their
degree subject. New technologies were viewed differently mainly because of the
resistance to change found among many members of the traditional construction sector
(Lu et al., 2014).
Only respondents with experience as consultants (p = 0.001<0.01) indicated that
communication flow structures are not important for the success of a project. However,
respondents with experience as developers considered that communication management
manuals are very relevant for the success of a project (p = 0.006<0.01). When all
communication requisites are included in a communication management manual,
including the communication flow structures, the information management plan, etc.,
the communication management manual becomes a quality assurance method for
developers that helps them control the project.
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Degree subject
χ² p-value<0.05
Bonferroni
correction p-
value<0.0125
Experience in a role
χ² p-value<0.05; Bonferroni correction p-value<0.01
Developer
Consultant
Project
manager
Construction
manager
Contractor
Parameter
Communication flow
structures
0.003
-
0.001
-
-
-
Quality of the
information
0.002
-
-
-
-
-
Structure for the flow of communication
B
-
-
-
-
-
0.008
C
-
-
-
-
-
0.015
Communication management
Manual com. man.
0.032
0.006
-
-
0.016
-
Media and channel
Verbal com.
-
-
-
-
-
-
Video call
0.006
-
-
-
-
-
Note: Cells with (-) indicate no significant correlation.
Table 4 p-value for the χ² of Pearson’s test between degree subject and experience in a
role versus communication parameters
Taking into account that the relative importance of communication aspects is perceived
differently with years of experience (Pons, 2015), the importance of KPIs to the success
of a project was also analysed by experience in a role, using an ordinal logistic
regression. Table 5 shows the results for the log10 cumulative experience and survey
responses. All analyses with ordinal logistic regression showed an adequate goodness of
fit. Communication flow structure (p = 0.002<0.05), communication management (p =
0.001<0.05) and quality of information (p = 0.047<0.05) KPIs were considered
differently, depending on the years of experience in a role. The β negative coefficient
indicates that communication flow structures and communication management were
considered less important by respondents with 10 times more experience than by non-
experienced respondents. The β positive coefficient of the quality of information
parameter indicates that quality communication was considered more important by
respondents with 10 times more experience than by non-experienced respondents.
The respondents’ years of experience were not significantly associated with the answers
for the rest of the parameters and/or their characteristics.
Coef.
β
p-value
Odds ratio
Communication flow structures
-0.7390
0.002
0.48
Communication management
-0.7775
0.001
0.46
Quality
0.54217
0.047
1.72
Note: only results for are displayed.
Table 5 Ordinal logistic regression results for log10 cumulative experience and survey
responses
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7. DISCUSSION
The relative importance of communication aspects is perceived differently by
respondents with different degree subjects, experience in a role and years of experience.
The more experienced respondents favour centralized systems, preferably with mixed
hierarchical structures and communication flows that are less restricted. Open
communication is considered important, although constant interaction of project
partners, as in the IPD project, has not yet been implemented by respondents. The
marked difference among respondents with different degree subjects on the perceptions
of communication flow structures and quality of information was related to the work
they carry out and the time they spend on site.
Communication flow structure and communication management were given less
importance in the communication process as experience increased. The relative
importance of management and leadership topics is highly dependent on stage in career
(Pons 2015). Experienced project managers prefer to exchange verbal and visual
information and be close to people and means (Laufer et al. 2008). They generally
distrust new trends and/or management theories and trust experience. Therefore, years
of experience might lead to a perceived reduction in the importance of certain
organizational structures that inhibit face-to-face contact.
Experienced respondents place more importance on the quality of communication. In
fact, the communication topic of quality management occurs 4.5 times more frequently
in effective projects than in non-effective projects (Shohet and Frydman 2003).
Degree subject, experience in a role and years of experience were found to be
significant for the selection of communication KPI for the success of a project.
However, quality of information, implementation of communication management
systems and the appointment of a head of communications were considered to be the
most important aspects by all respondents.
These results suggest that when evaluating the importance of indicators to select project
bidders (either designers, contractors or a joint venture) partners’ characteristics such as
experience should be taken into account.
8. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS
The results of this research could be used in a bidding process to assess bidders’
communication systems and abilities. Public projects are mainly based on competitive
tendering and the selection of bidders is a decisive event for project success (Yang and
Shen, 2014). After prequalification, which is determined by factors such as experience
and financial stability, the selection of the right bidder for the right project is crucial and
should be based not only on economic and technical aspects, but also on managerial
aspects related to the project (Perrenoud et al., 2017). Within the managerial area and
taking into account that project management is becoming a collaborative process, the
inclusion of communication aspects in the call may force bidders to plan
communication and prepare more accurate tenders, which would minimize the risk of
unexpected problems during project execution.
13
The results of this study can be used to determine which information is relevant to
qualify bidders according to their communication management:
the communication flow structure,
communication plan management,
how verbal and written communication will be managed in the project,
the channels of communication that will be used, and
the information management plan,
the experience and team characteristics.
This information should be used to analyse if bidders plan to appoint a head of
communication during the construction project, implement procedures to ensure timely
delivery of information to minimize inconsistencies, include a centralized system to
access project documentation and communication, and set up a communication
management system.
Since the experience and background of project partners is found to have an impact on
which communication indicators are considered important for the success of a project,
each bidding process should quantify the importance of the KPI differently, based on
the experience and background of the client and also of the bidders. The findings
suggest that highly experienced clients and project partners might not require a strict
communication management system in the bids, while those with less experience might
give more importance to this aspect and to the communication flow structures proposed
by the bidders.
9. CONCLUSIONS
The execution of a project involves a number of simultaneous variables that can affect
its performance. However, it is rarely acknowledged that effective communication is
key to the success of a project.
To determine which communication factors might affect the success of a project,
construction project partners’ perceptions of effective communication in construction
projects were analysed. However, determination of the communication factors that
affect the success of a project is relevant to any project that involves the collaboration of
multiple partners.
The results of this research indicate that the quality of information plays an important
role in the communication process, and the most important feature is to have accurate
information at the right time. The appointment of a head of communications was also
considered relevant in communication management.
The results also confirm that mixed hierarchical organizations with a central element for
communication and horizontal communication channels are considered the best
communication flow structures. However, a stakeholder’s degree subject and experience
in a role affect perceptions and prioritization of communication parameters. According
to the analysis of the results, there is a tendency to disregard the importance of
communication flow structures and communication management as years of experience
14
increase. The most experienced stakeholders are resistant to changes in traditional
construction project methods. The construction sector is still a traditional industry,
which justifies the preference for communication via written media (paper-based, e-
mail, messages, web-based systems) rather than oral media (face-to-face, mobile phone,
and video call and teleconference). Respondents believe that for project success,
information must be written down and easily accessible as a way to formalize decisions
and changes in the project. However, new communication systems and techniques that
are currently available to improve project communication such as mobile apps and
intranet should be implemented to help non-experienced project partners obtain project
goals.
The findings also show different perceptions among holders of degree subjects in
different fields, due to the work they carry out and the time they spend on site.
These results can be used to determine bidding requirements for the communication
management of a project. The requirements should include the determination of a head
of communication for the project, procedures to ensure timely delivery of information,
the definition of a centralized system for information and communication management,
and the incorporation of communication and information management plans within the
bid. In particular, the new bid/tender category can provide insights into the quality and
competitiveness of proposals.
As perceptions vary depending on degree subject and experience in a role, each bid’s
communication management requirements should be adapted to the client’s and
partners’ experience and background.
These results could also be used as a starting point for recognizing and improving the
communication process in the construction industry, because they may stimulate the
creation of strategies, processes and planning, and thus increase the efficiency of
construction projects through an environment of collaboration in which teams could
share information and knowledge.
Although the findings of this research are revealing, it is clear that more studies are
required to investigate the influence of communication on project performance. Further
research is being considered to expand the database and refine the results. In addition,
studies that analyse the impact of communication on various performance and
productivity aspects are also planned.
10. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors are grateful for the collaboration of the following professional associations
that distributed the link to the survey in Catalonia: Col.legi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya; Col.legi
d'Aparelladors, Arquitectes Tècnics i Enginyers d'Edificació de Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona and
Terres de l’Ebre; Col.legi d'Enginyers de Camins, Canals i Ports de Catalunya; Col.legi d'Enginyers
Tècnics d'Obres Públiques de Catalunya; Col.legi d'Enginyers Industrials de Catalunya; and the all
professionals who participated on the survey.
This study was partially supported by project MTM2012-38067-C02-01, financed by
the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
15
APPENDIX A. COMMUNICATION KP) QUESTIONNAIRE
Section 1: Respondent data
1.1. Degree subject:
Engineer
Technical engineer
Quantity surveyor
Architect
Supplier
Quality control
Other
1.2. Indicate your experience in years in the following roles:
Experience (years)
Role
Never
Up to
1
From 2 to 5
years
From 6 to10
years
From 11to 15
years
More than 15
years
Developer
Consultant
Project manager
Construction manager
Contractor
Designer
Supplier
Quality control
Section 2: Communication KPIs
2.1. Qualify the importance of the following communication factors for the success of a
project.
Very High
High
Medium
Low
Very Low
- Communication flow structures (the existence of an
established organizational structure for
communication).
- Communication management (planning,
development strategies, tools and techniques to
achieve communication objectives).
- Media and channels (shape and physical medium
used for the transmission of communication).
- Quality of the information (availability, accuracy,
accessibility, and ease of understanding).
- The degree of communication quality in each
building process management.
16
Section 3: Factors within Communication KPIs
3.1. Communication flow structures
The following image shows some organizational communication flow structures among
stakeholders in the construction process. The communication flows in the direction of
the arrows.
A. It is a kind of formal partnership. There is a central unit to serve all parts of
the project and create channels of communication.
B. It is a kind of informal association. Communication is transmitted in all
directions.
C. Relationships are hierarchical. The dissemination of information is restricted.
D. The hierarchical structure is mixed. There is a central element, but there are
also horizontal communication channels.
Rate the importance of each type of organization for communication.
Very Good
Good
Medium
Bad
Very Bad
A
B
C
D
3.2. Communication management
Below are some factors that influence the management of communication. Qualify
the relevance of these factors for the success of a project.
Communication management
Very High
High
Medium
Low
Very Low
Quality management system
Communication manual
Communication planning
Head of communication management
Communication budget
3.3. Media and channel
Rate the importance of the different media for improving the communication
process.
Media and channel
Very Good
Good
Medium
Bad
Very Bad
Verbal communication
Written communication
17
For verbal communication, rate the importance of the different channels for
improving the communication process.
Verbal communication
Very Good
Good
Medium
Bad
Very Bad
Face-to-face
Mobile
Video call
Teleconference
For written communication, rate the importance of the different channels for
improving the communication process.
Written communication
Very Good
Good
Medium
Bad
Very Bad
Letter / notes / reviews / minutes
E-mail / WhatsApp / web-based
systems / Facebook / Twitter
Fax
3.4. Quality of information
Rate the importance of factors relating to the quality of information for improving
the communication process.
Very High
High
Medium
Low
Very Low
Timely
Veracity
Centralization
Documented system
Digitalization
Standardization
Systematization and change control
3.5. Management areas of a building project
Rate the importance of communication management in the different management
areas of the construction process.
Very High
High
Medium
Low
Very Low
Integration
Scope
Time
Costs
Quality
Human resources
Risks
Procurement
18
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