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Construction project change


management in Singapore: Status,
importance and impact
Article (PDF Available) in International Journal of Project Management 30(7):817
826October 2012 with 254 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2011.11.001

1st Bon-Gang Hwang

2nd Lee Kian Low

26.39 National University of Sin...

Abstract
Changes in construction projects are inevitable. In order to minimize the impact of
changes on a project, it is imperative to implement change management. This study aims
to assess the status, importance and impact of change management implementation in
the Singapore construction industry. To achieve the objective, a comprehensive literature
review was conducted to gain an in-depth understanding of change management, and a
questionnaire survey was conducted. Analyzing the data collected from 384 projects
submitted by 32 companies, the implementation status was investigated at both company
and project levels, followed by identi cation of key factors that encourage and discourage
companies to practice change management. Furthermore, the importance and impact of
change management in terms of project performances such as cost, time, and quality
were also examined. The analysis results establish that the implementation status in the
Singapore construction industry is relatively low while improvement in project cost, time
and quality performances achieved by the companies that implement change
management tends to be greater than the companies that do not. Recognizing the
implementation status, importance and impacts of change management will be a starting
point to reduce changes that negatively affect project performances, ultimately allowing
the Singapore construction industry to increase opportunities for project success.

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Full-text (PDF)
Available from: Bon-Gang Hwang, Feb 06, 2014

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International Journal of Project Management 30 (2012) 817 826


www.elsevier.com/locate/ijproman

Construction project change management in Singapore: Status, importance


and impact
Bon-Gang Hwang a,, Lee Kian Low
b

a
Dept. of Building, National University of Singapore, 117566, Singapore
Keppel FMO Pte. Ltd., Golden Agri Plaza, 108 Pasir Panjang Road 118535, Singapore

Received 11 July 2011; received in revised form 5 October 2011; accepted 3 November 2011

Abstract
Changes in construction projects are inevitable. In order to minimize the impact of changes on a project, it is imperative to implement change
management. This study aims to assess the status, importance and impact of change management implementation in the Singapore construction
industry. To achieve the objective, a comprehensive literature review was conducted to gain an in-depth understanding of change management,
and a questionnaire survey was conducted. Analyzing the data collected from 384 projects submitted by 32 companies, the implementation
was investigated at both company and project levels, followed by identication of key factors that encourage and discourage companies to practice
change management. Furthermore, the importance and impact of change management in terms of project performances such as cost, time,
quality were also examined. The analysis results establish that the implementation status in the Singapore construction industry is relatively
while improvement in project cost, time and quality performances achieved by the companies that implement change management tends
greater than the companies that do not. Recognizing the implementation status, importance and impacts of change management will be a starting
point to reduce changes that negatively affect project performances, ultimately allowing the Singapore construction industry to increase opportunities for project success.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. APM and IPMA. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Change; Change management; Cost; Schedule; Quality; Performance; Best practice; Construction project; Singapore

1. Introduction
The construction industry is one of the sectors that provide
significant contributions to Singapore's economy and thus, it
is imperative to sustain successful deliveries of construction
projects in Singapore. While construction projects vary in
size, duration and complexity, several common features can
be found. One of the most common concerns in construction
projects is project changes (Ming et al., 2004). Changes usually
occur at any stage of a project due to various causes from different sources, and have considerable impacts (Karim and Adeli,
1999; Motawa et al., 2007). Any additions, deletions or modifications to the scope of the project are considered as changes.
According to Park (2002), construction changes refer to work
state, processes, or methods that differ from the original
Corresponding author.

construction plan or specification and usually resulted from


ference in work quality and conditions, scope changes,
uncertainties that make construction dynamic and yet unstable.
Also, Zhao et al. (2009) emphasized that the complex and
namic nature of construction projects poses uncertainties
risks.
The earlier the changes are rectified, the lesser impact it
have on the project. Furthermore, conflicts over project changes
can be minimized when the problem is found at the earlier
phase of the project. Hence, it is very important to implement
change management to construction projects and among many
project management best practices, change management has
come one of the most important practices (Motawa et al., 2007;
Zou and Lee, 2008). The efficacy of overall change management practice in different types of projects can vary widely
depending on project nature, industrial type, project complexity, project size, contract methods and the level of experience

0263-7863/$36.00 2011 Elsevier Ltd. APM and IPMA. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2011.11.001

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of project participants. Nevertheless, with appropriate change


management, preventive measures can be planned for potential
changes, and for changes that have already occurred, it can be
resolved in a timely and systematic manner. This will ensure
a successful execution and good management of a project, ultimately generating more revenues for the economy.
Under this assertion, this study aims to encourage more
practitioners to implement change management into their projects in an attempt to minimize cost and schedule overruns
and quality problems. More specifically, the objectives of this
study are: (1) to investigate the current implementation status
of change management in the Singapore construction industry;
(2) to explore benefits and barriers of change management implementation; and finally (3) to analyze the impact of change
management on project performances. For this study, perspectives of contractors working mostly in small and mid-sized
firms in Singapore were analyzed and changes that occurred
in both design and execution phases were considered.
2. Background
2.1. Definitions of project change
Ibbs et al. (2001) stated that any additions or deletions to
project goals or scope are considered to be changes, whether
they increase or decrease the project cost, schedule or quality.
Similarly, Arain and Low (2005) defined that a change is any
modification to the contractual agreement provided by the contractors or owners. When project changes occur, there are
bound to be certain consequences. The impact of project
changes can either be significant or trivial as it may affect the
operation and progress of the project. In addition, Isaac and
Navon (2008) claimed that the main causes of changes are
such as project delays, cost overruns and quality difference
from the agreed requirements. Therefore, impacts of changes
should be examined and dealt with in a systematic manner as
it may hinder the project performance.
2.2. Sources of project change
It is also important to identify different sources of project
changes before attempting to minimize it. Project changes can
be originated from numerous factors that are related to the construction projects. Both internal and external elements can influence any project changes to occur (Love et al., 2002). Firstly,
the internal factors include project, organizational and stakeholder related issues. Project related issues comprise of uncertainties
of project, increasing project complexity, inaccurate cost estimating, shortage of resources availability, or change of financial status of any party involved in the project. Next, organizational
related issues refer to change in management, lack of timely
and effective communication, and lack of integration between departments (Ibbs et al., 2001). Stakeholder related issues are for instance, design errors, omissions, or modifications to the drawings
leading to infective design, poor project definition by owners, inadequate pre project planning, inadequate project change management, poor communication among owners, designers and

constructors, or constructability ignored in the design process


(Hwang et al., 2009).
Secondly, the external factors consist of natural unforeseeable circumstances, government intervention, economy,
legal issues. Due to natural unforeseeable circumstances such
as inclement weather, project duration is often delayed as it
unpredictable. During inclement weather especially rainy
stormy seasons, it will not be possible for workers to perform
any work at the construction site. As safety is also one of the
main concerns in construction industry, the well-being of the
workers should not be risked. Government related issues are
for example, statutory requirements or strict rules and regulations that must be complied with.
Changes in tax and interest rates are some of the econom
related issues. It affects the project in terms of the financial
ability. Uncertain inflation rate can affect the cash flow and material availability of the project. As for legal issues, the
implementation of new law or regulations may impose project
scope to change and incur more project cost.
As a consequence of all these factors that surfaced, it wi
lead to project changes and eventually having an impact
the project. The degree which project will be affected will
elaborated further.
2.3. Effect of project change
Considering that changes can have both positive and negative effect on project cost, schedule and quality, changes can
be categorized into two main types, namely beneficial changes
and detrimental changes (Ibbs et al., 2001). Beneficial changes
can be resulted from exercising value management. Although
value management may incur more cost to the project, it is useful and helpful to the project in the long run. Since beneficial
changes are of advantage to a project, these changes are encouraged in a project by the management team. In contrast, detrimental changes are discouraged and result in negative impacts
to the project, reducing values going to the owner. Ibbs
(1997) concluded that because changes are common in projects,
it is critical for project management team to confront, embrace,
adapt and use variations to impact positively on the situations
they face and to recognize changes at the early phase of the
construction. Also, in order to contribute to a successful project,
it is very important for the timely identification of impacts
project changes. Some of the major negative impacts
changes are as follows:
2.3.1. Increase in project cost
This is the most common effect of project changes which
may occur (Arain and Low, 2005; Assaf et al., 1995; CII,
1990; Clough and Sears, 1994). Any major additions to the
original work scope will lead to a significant increase in project
cost. Therefore, there is always the contingency sum in the contract to counter for this purpose.
2.3.2. Recruiting New Professionals
According to the research conducted by CII (1995) changes
are frequent in complex technological projects. Considering

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that specialized manpower is one of the integral resources required for complex technological projects (Fisk, 1997), when
there are new changes to a project, engagement of specialized
professionals may be essential to facilitate the changes (Arain
and Low, 2005). Furthermore, if the professionals are not readily available to deal with the new changes, there will be accumulated problems.
2.3.3. Increase in overhead expenses
As stated earlier on, project changes indicate some minor or
major differences to the contractual scope agreed between
owner and contractor. In order to make the changes validated
and agreed upon mutually by both parties, proper documentation is vital (O'Brien, 1998). This is to ensure that the proposed
changes are properly communicated and documented to all the
parties involved. Hence, it implies that more expenses will be
necessary for the legal documentation and paper procedures
pertaining to the agreed changes (Arain and Low, 2005).
2.3.4. Quality degradation
This is also one of the main concerns for owners. Contractors may tend to compensate for the losses by cutting corners
due to the frequent changes of the owners. Thus, this will affect
the quality of the work negatively (Arain and Low, 2005).
2.3.5. Decrease in labor productivity
Lee et al. (2005) highlighted that working overtime could
demoralize the morale of workers and deteriorate the productivity of workers. Consequently, the productivity degradation will
affect the delaying of the project too. In relation with that, Ming
et al. (2004) also mentioned that in cases whereby workers were
expected to work for overtime over a prolonged period to compensate for the project schedule delays, productivity will be
greatly affected.
2.3.6. Delay in procurement process
Procurement delays can be frequent in a construction project
as a result of project changes (Hester et al., 1991; O'Brien,
1998). New specialized materials or equipment may be needed
to be the resources of the project (Arain and Low, 2005).
2.3.7. Rework and Demolition
Rework and demolition are considered the most potential effect of project changes that can occur (Clough and Sears, 1994; ).
This is especially in the event whereby the construction has either just commenced work or already in the midst of the construction process (Arain and Low, 2005; CII, 1990). Minor or
major rework may be needed depending on the timing when
the changes occurred. Hwang et al. (2009) adds on that project
cost performance can be improved by recognizing the impacts
of reworks.
2.3.8. Safety conditions
Safety conditions in construction projects may be affected
by changes (Arain and Low, 2005; Arain et al., 2004;
O'Brien, 1998). Employers should always ensure a safe workplace condition for workers. Health and safety of the workers

should be carefully taken care of. When there is new equipment


or other construction methods used, proper and additional
ty measures must be prepared for the workers.

2.3.9. Delay in completion schedule


Completion schedule delay is the most frequent effect
can occur. A survey finding in Kumaraswamy et al. (1998)
showed that 50 percent of the projects surveyed were delayed
because of the frequent changes.

2.4. Change management processes and systems


Change management is one of the project management
tices that resolve problems when changes occurred in a project
or minimize changes that may occur and disrupt the progress
the project (Zhao et al., 2009). It seeks to forecast possible
changes, identify changes that have already occurred, plan
preventive measures, and coordinate changes across the entire
project among all stakeholders. Besides addressing the impact
of changes, an effective change management should also
into the cost, time and quality considerations for the project.
Inconsistent management of the change process can result
many disruptive effects (Motawa et al., 2007). Additionally,
changes are not resolved through a formalized change management process, it may become the major source of contract
putes and leading to a project failure. The process of change
management comprised of four basic principles: (1) to identify
changes; (2) to evaluate changes; (3) to implement changes;
and (4) to learn from past experiences. These four princ
work together to achieve the objective of an effective change
management system.
Motawa et al. (2007) outlined that development of change
management systems should include various factors such
project processes and all the internal and external factors
influence project changes. Sun et al. (2006) designed a change
management toolkit for construction projects which include
change dependency framework, and change prediction
workflow tools. The research done by Lee and Pea-Mora
(2005), and Motawa et al. (2007) also established integrate
change management systems, based on a system dynamics,
leading to the Dynamic Planning and Controlling Methodology
that can evaluate negative impacts of errors and changes
construction performance. Also, Charoenngam et al. (2003)
suggested a Change Order Management System which was
veloped to manage problems of changes in construction
jects. This system comprised of a change order procedure
which involved workflows, documents, records keeping,
a centralized database. Similarly, Isaac and Navon (2008)
sented a model that identifies and emphasizes on the possible
impact of proposed changes in building projects. Lastly,
et al. (2009) proposed a simulation method using Dependency
Structure Matrix (DSM) to predict changes in the process
the construction. This method includes id entifying the sour
of changes and verifying the effectiveness of the DSM
model.

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3. Methodology and data presentation

Table 1
Profile of companies, respondents, and projects.

Looking into aspects of change management and its significant impact on project performances will assist in achieving the
objective of this study. The literature review conducted aided in
having better understanding of change management in the construction industry and gathering information to develop the survey questionnaire used for this study.
The first section of the questionnaire captured the basic profile of companies and respondents that participated in this
study. The next section was designed to identify how many
companies and projects practiced change management, followed by the section capturing factors that encourage and discourage companies to implement change management. The
last section involves questions that capture the importance of
change management in a five-point likert scale, and that explore
the impact of change management on project cost, time and
quality performances in terms of the percentage of improvement obtained.
Having these sections including a total of 27 questions, the
questionnaire was sent out to contractor companies registered
under the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) registry,
and 32 complete sets were returned. Upon obtaining the data,
analyses were performed and the results are discussed in the
next section. Table 1 presents the profile of the data collected
from the questionnaire.
The registry grade, as shown in Table 1, indicates different
tendering limits for different contractors, which is regulated
and managed by the BCA in Singapore. In general, companies
with the registry grade of A1 have unlimited tendering limits
while A2 indicates its limit at S$85 million. Grades B1 (up to
S$40 million), B2 (up to S$13 million), C1 (up to S
$4 million), C2 (up to S$1.3 million), and C3 (up to S
$0.65 million) have lower tendering limits than Grades A1
and A2. 63% of the companies have an average of 20 to
29 years of experience in the construction industry. Similarly,
the surveyed respondents who are directors (16%), managers
(47%), and engineers (37%) have an average of 10 to
19 years of experience in the construction industry.
Table 1 also summarizes the number of projects surveyed by
the project type, nature, and cost. Building projects made up the
majority of 66% while there was an almost even distribution of
addition, grass roots, and modernization projects in terms of the
project nature. Due to having more responses obtained from
Grades B and C contractor companies, 87% of the projects involved the project cost less than $20 million.

Characteristics

4. Data analysis and discussions

Table 2
Implementation status company level (I).

Having analyzed the data from the survey, this section discusses: (1) the implementation status of change management at
the company level; (2) the implementation status of change management at the project level; (3) factors that affect organizations
decision on whether or not to implement change management; (4)
perceptions on barriers and benefits of change management; and
lastly, and (5) the impact on project performances.

Extent of Change Management


Implementation

No. of Companies
(Total = 32)

% of
Companies

Not at all
b 50% of Projects
50% of Projects
> 50% of Projects
All of Projects

21
8
3
0
0

66%
25%
9%
0%
0%

Company (N + 32)

Registry Grade*

Years of Experience

Respondent (N = 32)

Job Title

Years of Experience

Project Type

Project Nature

Project (N = 284)

Project Cost

A (A1&A2)
B (B1 & B2)
C (C1, C2 & C3)
Less than 10
10-19
20-29
30-39
40 or more
Director
Management
Engineer
Administrator
Less than 10
10-19
20-29
30-39
40 or more
Building
Infrastructure
Heavy Industrial
Light Industrial
Addition
Grass roots
Modernization
$0$10 million
$11$20 million
$21$30 million
$31$40 million
$41$50 million
$51$60 million
$61$70 million
$71$80 million
$81$90 million
$91$100 million
>$100 million

6
12
14
3
6
20
2
1
5
15
9
3
2
18
9
2
1
256
14
29
85
146
137
101
238
96
18
13
8
1
1
6
0
0
3

19%
38%
43%
9%
19%
63%
6%
3%
47%
47%
28%
9%
6%
57%
28%
6%
3%
66%
4%
8%
22%
38%
36%
26%
62%
25%
5%
3%
2%
0%
0%
2%
0%
0%
1%

*A1 - unlimited tendering limit; A2 up to S$85 million; B1 - up to


$40 million; B2 - up to S$13 million; C1 - up to S$4 million; C2 - up to
$1.3 million; and C3 - up to S$0.65 million.

4.1. Change management implementation status company


level
This analysis provides an understanding of the extent
which contractor companies in Singapore practice change management. As shown in Table 2, 66% of the companies indicated
that they did not implement change management at all whereas
34% of the companies indicated that they practice it. It is, however, of interest that none of the companies has implemented
change management for more than 50% of their projects.

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can be inferred that the current implementation status of change


management in the Singapore construction industry is relatively
low based on the results. The reason for this low implementation status may be due to unfamiliarly to the process of change
management or companies are unaware of potential benefits
from implementing it. Hence, barriers and benefits of change
management implementation are further investigated and discussed later.
Based on the company grades, Table 3 presents the number
and percentage of companies which implemented change management. The companies of higher grades (A1 & A2 67%;
B1 & B2 42%) tend to implement change management
more than those lower grades (C1, C2 and C3 14%). One
possible reason for this result is that bigger companies might
be better equipped with readily available resources, more experience in the industry, more professionals with expertise, and
advanced technology and implementation processes. This also
tends to cause bigger companies to more appreciate benefits
from change management.
4.2. Change management implementation status project
level
Following the analysis at the company level, the implementation status at the project level was also analyzed to provide a
more comprehensive and accurate assessment of the implementation status. In general, out of a total of 384 projects, only 121
projects (32%) implemented change management, indicating
that the implementation status of change management is also
moderately low. Furthermore, in order to attain in-depth understanding of the implementation status at the project level, factors such as project type, nature, and cost were considered for
further analyses, and the results are summarized in Table 4.
First, the projects were categorized into the categories of
building, infrastructure, heavy industrial and light industrial
according to project types. For this study, building projects are
those that include offices, institutions, residential, and retails. Infrastructure projects refer to highways, airport, tunneling, and
bridges. Next, heavy industrial projects focus on chemical, electrical, mining, and refining. Lastly, light industrial consist of consumer products manufacturing, pharmaceuticals manufacturing,
and electronics manufacturing.
As shown in Table 4, 38% of building projects implemented
change management. Isaac and Navon (2008) underlined that
Table 3
Implementation status company level (II).
Registry Grade*

No. of
Companies

No. of Companies
Implementing
Change
Management

% of Companies
Implementing
Change
Management

A (A1, A2)
B (B1, B2)
C (C1, C2, C3)
Total

6
12
14
32

4
5
2
11

67%
42%
14%
34%

*A1 - unlimited tendering limit; A2 up to S$85 million; B1 - up to S


$40 million; B2 - up to S$13 million; C1 - up to S$4 million; C2 - up to S
$1.3 million; and C3 - up to S$0.65 million.

Table 4
Implementation status project level.
Project Characteristics

No. of
Projects

No. of Projects
Implementing
Change
Management

% of Projects
Implementing
Change
Management

Project Type Building


Infrastructure
Heavy
Industrial
Light Industrial
Project
Addition
Nature
Grass roots
Modernization
Project Cost $0$10 million
$11
$20 million
$21
$30 million
$31
$40 million
$41
$50 million
$51
$60 million
$61
$70 million
$71
$80 million
$81
$90 million
$91
$100 million
>$100 million
Total

256
14
29

96
2
3

38%
14%
10%

85
146
137
101
238
96

20
22
87
12
89
15

24%
15%
64%
12%
37%
16%

18

11%

13

69%

63%

0%

0%

17%

0%

0%

3
384

0
121

0%
32%

managing changes in building projects can be difficult because


the changes often generate unanticipated side effects. As building projects may require careful planning to meet and cater
the requirements of the users, there should be minimal errors
and changes especially at the initial stage where emphasis
placed on planning. Therefore, building projects might implement change management more than other projects, ensuri
that changes occurred are timely tackled in the shortest
and thus their impact on project performance can be minimized.
Next, the projects were classified into addition, grass roots,
and modernization categories according to their nature. Addition
refers to adding on to current existing facilities which may
result in the expansion of the capacity while grass roots refer
completion of a new construction projects or demolition of exis
ing facilities before the commencement of a new construc
Lastly, modernization refers to modification or improvemen
existing facilities which may often involved certain equipm
or structure of components to be removed, replaced or improv
From Table 4, it can be seen that 87 out of 137 grass roots projects
(64%) implemented change management, which takes the highes
percentage among the three categories. As mentioned above,
grass roots refer to new construction projects. Therefore, carefu
and proper planning for the entire project is essential. If there
any delay in any of planned activities, it will eventually have
impact on project cost as well. To avoid this, the project

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management team has to consider various factors that can cause


changes in any phrase of the project. This may further encourage
adoption of change management as its proper implementation can
result in early identification of project changes (Ibbs et al., 2001).
Lastly, the projects were categorized based on their total
costs as seen in Table 4. 69% and 63% of the projects costing
between $31 million to $40 million and $41 million to
$50 million implemented change management respectively.
As these projects involved a relatively large sum of project
cost, the implementation percentage tends to be higher than
the others. For bigger projects, the project management team
is more careful with the issues that can affect the project, especially cost. Although project cost ranging from $0 to
$10 million constitutes to the majority of the total number of
projects, the implementation percentage for these projects is
only 37%. This could be due to the small scale of the projects
that may afford to have neither full time staff nor effective processes and systems for change management. In addition, it is of
interest that the higher project cost may not eventually lead to
more implementation of change management as seen in
Table 4 - only one out of 11 projects costing over $51 million
implemented change management. However, having only 11
companies for this range of project cost is too small to determine conclusive results for the entire population.
4.3. Decision factors determining implementation of change
management
As presented above, the analysis revealed that the extent of
change management implementation in the Singapore construction industry is relatively low. Therefore, in order to increase its
usage, it would be meaningful to identify decision determinants
of change management implementation. For this analysis, five
most plausible factors (Project Cost, Project Size, Project
Type, Project Nature, and Statutory Requirement) were listed
in the survey questionnaire and the respondents were asked to
assign their ranks to the five factors with 1 as the least influential factor and 5 as the most influential factor. Table 5 summarizes the result.
As seen in Table 5, there are two main factors that encourage
companies to implement change management into their projects
(Mean Score > 3): (1) project cost; and (2) statutory requirement. According to Zou and Lee (2008) project cost is the
most sensitive and important aspect in construction projects.
As a result, when decision on whether or not to practice certain
management approaches is made, the additional cost for implementation may be considered seriously even if the practices

have been already proven in terms of their benefits. This may


be one possible reason that the project cost is recognized
the most important decision determinant. Next, statutory
quirement was the second most influential factor, indicating
that it would act as enforcement for companies to undertake
change management. In other words, if any statutory were
enforce this as a Must , companies will comply with it
order not to violate the regulation and thus to be penalized.
is of interest that the project size (Rank = 4) and type
(Rank = 5) may not be seriously considered when the decision
is made.
4.4. Barriers and benefits of change management
Among the companies that do not implement change management, a subsequent question on their barriers against its implementation was asked. 7 factors were listed in the questionna
and the responses are summarized in Table 6.
81% of the respondents indicated that being comfortable with
current operations is the greatest barrier hindering them fro
implementing change management, followed by the small sca
of projects (48%). Companies may be reluctant to be adapted
a new management style and prefer to maintain with their curren
operations. Furthermore, practicing new management approaches
require additional resources and technical requirements to supp
them. This also incurs additional cost and thus becomes the mai
issue when companies consider the implementation of change
management. It is of interest that there were respondents who
even consider change management time consuming (38%).
While the result might be due partly to concerns about time
taken for its implementation, it draws attention as the result may
imply that benefits from change management have not be
well recognized in the Singapore construction industry. As a
sult, in order to encourage more implementation, perceptions
the respondents on benefits of change management were inves
gated and highlighted in Table 6 as well.
In general, the respondents agreed that their companies have
benefited from the implementation. More specifically, 82%
the respondents indicated that they can respond faster and
Table 6
Barriers and benefits.
Category
Barriers

Table 5
Decision Factors Determining Implementation of Change Management.
Factors

Scale
1

Project Cost
Statutory Requirement
Project Nature
Project Size
Project Type

2
3
9
7
11

0
3
7
10
12

0
5
6
13
8

16
12
1
2
1

14
9
9
0
0

Total
Score

Mean

Rank

136
117
90
74
63

4.25
3.66
2.81
2.31
1.97

1
2
3
4
5

Benefits

Comfortable with current operations


Project scale is too small
Time consuming
Implementation cost
Lack of management
Lack of specialised professionals
Lack of resources
Fast responses to changes
Time saving
Cost saving
Project risk reduction
Productivity improvement
Quality improvement
Communication & teamwork
improvement

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No. of Respondents

17
10
8
6
2
1
1
9
6
6
4
4
3
3

81%
48%
38%
29%
10%
5%
5%
82%
55%
55%
36%
36%
27%
27%

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more readily to project changes, practicing change management. This is supported by Motawa et al. (2007) who argued
that change management can aid in the planning and controlling of actions to be taken in an event of potential project
changes. Next, cost and time savings were found to be the second most benefits identified. Hence, this further supports the
importance of implementing change management in projects.
Cost and time have been the two major objectives of construction projects and as change management may reduce cost and
time, more companies will implement it. Another important aspect of projects is quality. However, it was reported that only
27% of the respondents recognize improvement in quality by
implementing change management. In fact, change management may not directly improve quality while it would remove
potential risks that are caused by changes, which affect quality
of the project.
4.5. Importance and impact of change management
This analysis was first focused on identifying the importance
of change management in improving project performances. The
respondents were asked to rate the scale of the importance with
1 as not important and 5 as extremely important. In addition,
percentage of cost and time savings, and quality improvement
were analyzed based on the inputs from the respondents. The
respondents provided data showing how much of project cost
and schedule could be reduced by implementing change management. Similarly, quality improvement by implementing the
practice was also investigated. For the 21 respondents who indicated that change management was not implemented in
their projects, the responses were based on perceptions of the
respondents while the 11 respondents who practiced change
management for their projects responded based on their project
data. The analysis results of the importance of change management to project overall, cost, time and quality performances are
summarized in Table 7and Fig. 1 while Table 8 and Fig. 2 are
provided for the results of its impact on project cost saving,
time saving, and quality improvement.
For overall project performance improvement, only 15% of
the companies that have not implement change management perceived its importance at the level of 4 and 5 while 73% of the
companies that implemented the practice selected either 4 or 5.
The mean difference between the two groups was statistically significant as shown in Table 7 (p-value = 0.008). This tendency was

also reported in the analysis for cost (p-value = 0.000), time


value = 0.006), and quality (p-value = 0.003) performances.
result, it can be concluded that those who have implemente
change management to their projects are aware of its import
in improving project performances more than those who
not.
More specifically, as shown it Table 7, 14 out of 21 companies (66%) that have not implement change management
cated a neutral view (Mean = 2.9) towards the importance
change management in improving cost performance. This result
is also along with the result of the analysis on cost savings
change management, as shown in Table 8. 66% of the respondents in the same group as above indicated that their perception
of the impact of change management on project cost saving
only 1% to 3%, and even 24% of the respondents report
that no cost savings could be obtained from change management. In contrast, the 11 companies implementing change
agement argued that change management plays an important
role for improving cost performance (Mean = 4.1Table 7) and can result in cost savings by an average of
(See Table 8), which is much greater than the average cost
ings of the other group that does not practice change manag
ment(1.8%). The difference in cost savings between the
groups is statistically significant (p-value = 0.000) as shown
Table 8.
In addition, as shown in Figs. 1 and 2, the distributions
the group implementing change management tend to
placed in the higher scores for the importance and the greater
cost savings for the impact respectively. This may infer
those who have ever implemented change management
ognize its importance and appreciate benefits (cost savings)
more than those who have not. Therefore, it may be deduced
that companies with change management are more likely
achieve better cost performance. This result could
expected as project changes identified at the earlier phrase
can be resolved with less impact on cost performance
and Lee, 2008).
As seen in Table 7 and Fig. 1, the importance of change
agement in improving time performance is also prominent
the perspectives of the companies practicing it (Mean =
while a majority of the respondents in the other group (80%
took a neutral stand (Mean = 3.0). Also, as shown in Tabl
47% of the 21 respondents mentioned that change manage
cannot produce time savings. This might infer that

ImplementChangeManagement
DoNotImplementChangeManagement

Fig. 1. Importance of change management.

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ImplementChangeManagement
DoNotImplementChangeManagement

Fig. 2. Impact of change management.

respondents rarely perceive change management as an approach


to improving time performance. These respondents may deem
implementation of change management as time consuming rather
than time saving in a project. They may not be willing to invest
extra time in implementing change management due to their hectic schedule. Nonetheless, as shown in Table 8, the respondents
that have implemented change management still report its benefit
of schedule reduction by an average of 7%, which is statistically
significantly different (p- value = 0.000) from the average time
saving of the other group (1.6%).
In addition, as shown in Figs. 1 and 2, there is a tendency that
the group with greater recognition to the importance produces
more time savings in their projects. In order to implement change
management, a considerable amount of time may be required due
to, for example, decision making processes, documentation and
tracking of changes, development of mitigation plans, and execution of the plans. However, it can also result in time saving when
the term refers to fewer delays to projects or less rework to be
done (Roundtable, 2004). With concise evaluation on project
changes, rework can be reduced, mitigating the risk of delaying
projects. Therefore, despite a considerable amount of time spent
in implementing change management, the time savings obtained
can offset it.
In case of quality, although 64% of the companies that
implemented change management reported that it has an impact
on quality improvement by 1 to 3% (Mean = 4%), as shown in
Table 8, 71% of the respondents in the other group felt that
change management does not have any impact (Mean = 0.9),
resulting in the statistically significant mean difference between
the two groups (p-value = 0.010). Figs. 1 and 2 also confirm the

result, showing the extreme contrast of the distributions of the


two groups. It is of interest that the quality improvement
change management is not as high as cost and time savings.
This might be because improvement in quality would not
measured as explicit as cost and schedule savings.
4.6. Limitations
Although the findings from the analyses provide better understanding of the status, importance and impact of change
management in the context of the Singapore construction industry, there are a couple of limitations. The survey questionnaires
were sent out to developers, quantity surveyors, project management consultants, facilities management consultants, and
contractors. However, due to the low response rate of the
other designations, only responses from contractors were analyzed. As a result, the findings should be interpreted from the
perspective of contractors. Also, it should be noted that the
spondents were mostly from small and mid-sized companies
and thus, the analysis results presented in this study may not
be readily generalized, especially for relatively large construction firms and projects. Finally, as the statistical tests were performed with small samples, cautions should be warranted when
the test results are generalized.
5. Conclusions and recommendations
The main objective of this study was: (1) to investigate the
implementation status of change management in the Singapore
construction industry; (2) to explore benefits and barriers

Table 7
Importance of change management in improving project performances.
Importance
(1-Not
important;
5-Extremely
important)
1
2
3
4
5

TimePerformance

QualityPerformance

Change
NoChange
Change
NoChange
Management Management T-Test Management
Management
T-Test
(N=11)
(N=21)
(P-Value)
(N=11)
(N=21)
(P-Value)

OverallPerformance

CostPerformance

Change
NoChange
Management
Management T-Test
(N=11)
(N=21)
(P-Value)

Change
NoChange
Management Management
T-Test
(N=11)
(N=21)
(P-Value)

N % Mean N % Mean
0 0%
0 0%
1 9%
7 33%
2 18% 3.7 11 52% 2.9
7 64%
2 10%
1 9%
1 5%

N % Mean N % Mean
0 0%
0 0%
0 0%
2 10%
4 36% 3.8 17 80% 3.0
5 46%
2 10%
2 18%
0 0%

N % Mean N % Mean
0 0%
2 10%
1 9%
14 66%
8 73% 3.2
3 14% 2.2
1 9%
2 10%
1 9%
0 0%

0.008*

N % Mean N % Mean
0 0%
0 0%
0 0%
5 24%
1 9%
4.1 14 66% 2.9
8 73%
1 5%
2 18%
1 5%

*Indicates statistically significant results at the 0.05 level;

0.000*

0.006*

0.003*

indicates the highest frequency in the group; Bold indicates the higher mean in the comparison groups.

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B.-G. Hwang, L.K. Low / International Journal of Project Management 30 (2012) 817826
Table 8
Impact of Change Management on Project Performances.
CostSaving
Scale

TimeSaving

Change
NoChange
Management
Management
T-Test
(N=11)
N

0%
1-3%

0
0

0%
0%

4-6%
7-9%

9 82%
1 9%

10%

9%

Mean

(N=21)
N

(P-Value)

Mean

5.6%

2 10%
0 0%
0

(N=11)
N

5 24%
14 66%

Mean

0 0%
1 10%
1.8%

0.000*

0%

*Indicates statistically significant results at the 0.05 level;

QualityImprovement

Change
NoChange
Management
Management
T-Test

5 45%
0 0%

(N=21)
N

(P-Value)

Mean

5 45%

2 10%
1 5%
0

0%

(N=11)
N

10 47%
8 38%
7.0%

Change
NoChange
Management
Management
T-Test

Mean

0 0%
7 64%
1.6%

0.000*

2 18%
0 0%
2 18%

(N=21)
N

(P-Value)

Mean

15 71%
4 19%
4.0%

2 10%
0 0%
0

0.9%

0.010*

0%

indicates the highest frequency in the group; Bold indicates the higher mean in the comparison groups.

change management implementation; and (3) to assess the importance and impact of change management in terms of project
performances. Based on the analysis results, it can be concluded that the implementation status of change management in
Singapore is relatively low as majority of the companies and
projects do not implement change management. In an attempt
to investigate the reasons for the low implementation status, deterrence factors were determined, and being comfortable with
the current operations and constraint from project cost and
time were the prominent barriers that the industry must get
through to appreciate more benefits from implementation of
change management.
As for the importance of change management to project performances, in general, the companies that do not implement
change management perceived it at a neutral stand while the
other group is fully aware of the importance. Furthermore,
more cost and time savings, and quality improvement could
be achieved by the group practicing change management, and
when compared to the outcomes of the other group, the difference was statistically significant.
Considering that perceptions of those who do not implement
change management on benefits of change management are always lower than actual improvement and savings that can be
achieved by its implementation, construction contractors in Singapore seem to be unaware of or unfamiliar with change management and its benefits. In an attempt to increase the usage, training
sessions should be provided and further emphasis should be
placed on barriers that deter its implementation so as to address
concerns of those who do not implement change management.
For future studies, it is recommended to quantify level of
change implementation at project and company levels since degree of performance improvement can be affected by the extent
to which change management is implemented. Also, the impact
of change management on other performances such as productivity, safety or customer satisfaction can be analyzed. Lastly, a similar study can be done based on input from project owners,
developers, and architecture, considering that the project participants may have more control on the issues arising from changes.
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Citations

Construction project change management in Singapore: Status, importance and impact (PDF Download Available)

17

References

30

An Index to Assess Project Management Competencies in Managing Design


Changes
"A survey conducted by Hwang and Low (2011), assessing
the status of change management implementation in the
Singapore construction industry, showed out of a total of
384 projects, only 121 projects (32%) implemented change
management, indicating that the implementation status of
change management is moderately low. Among possible
reasons for this low implementation status were
unfamiliarity of professionals with the process of change
management and lack of experienced resources [4]. Given
the complex nature of oil and gas projects, particularly in a
competitive work environment, the competencies of project
management personnel are seen as having a major role in
overcoming the problems associated with design changes
and errors. "

[Show abstract]

Full-text Article Jan 2016 Procedia Computer Science


Mahsa Taghi Zadeh

Reza Dehghan

Janaka Y Ruwanpura

George Jergeas
Read full-text

Identifying Issues of Change Leading to Cost Conflicts: Case Study in


Cambodia
"A systematic approach to modeling change processes
within a construction project is formulated that would be
helpful for the identi cation and evaluation of change [15].
However, there is a limitation of change management
according to a nding of research in Singapore [16]. Previous
studies aimed to enhance the productivity and cost savings
resulting from changes. "

[Show abstract]

Full-text Article Dec 2015


Vachara Peansupap

Lakhena Cheang

Read full-text

Using a Systemic Perspective to Support Engineering Change Management


"A central characteristic of the VSM is that it contains
embedded control mechanisms that allow to monitor the
achievement of objectives and adapt to internal or external
changing conditions. Based on existing literature on ECM,
the authors identi ed feedback mechanisms that monitor
the three following aspects [2, 4, 7, 23, 27]: @BULLET
Objectives (e.g., time, cost, and quality) @BULLET Strategy

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(e.g., avoidance of late ECs @BULLET Rules (e.g.,


documentation of ECs)Figure 2 illustrates the ECM and its
embedded control mechanisms. An example for an identi ed
control mechanism of ECM is to monitor that ECs are
implemented at the de ned due date to avoid project delays.
"

[Show abstract]

Article Dec 2015


Julian Wilberg

Fatos Elezi

Iris D. Tommelein

Udo Lindemann

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