The search for improvement in construction continues, with many novel as well as longstanding initiatives applied to the process in attempts to drive down cost and raise quality. Success is often claimed, but it is not always possible to reproduce the same result elsewhere. Research for the Swedish government on a ‘design and build’ housing project has examined the underlying process and has found a series of discrepancies between what is claimed and what appears to have happened. A comprehensive computer-based model was created in order to pinpoint inconsistencies and omissions in the process. Whilst this ‘lean project’ was judged overall to have been a success, questions remain not least in relation to the synchronisation of off-site production with on-site construction. Areas of concern include the project definition stage in particular the mismatch between the project programme and the detailed workings that lie behind it. The programme appears to present construction personnel with insufficient insight into the detailed steps that are needed to undertake some key activities. The paper concludes by arguing for a much more detailed analysis of the process and one that integrates the efforts of specialist contractors and off-site production with on-site construction. By doing so, it would help to balance resources and increase the likelihood of achieving a project’s cost, quality and time objectives.
Process modelling, project planning, supply chain