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Global Construction Success

Charles O'Neil

ISBN: 978-1-119-44033-8 December 2018 Wiley-Blackwell 360 Pages


A guide to effective corporate and project management in the construction industry with a focus on the role that people play in the process
Global Construction Success explores the importance that human dynamics play in risk management of construction projects. Every time a project is structured, designed and built, personal behaviours and inputs can either lead to success or be the cause of failure. With contributions from noted experts on the topic, the book offers insight into stakeholders’ reactions in a variety of situations, provides expert analyses of risk management and proposes potential solutions and recommendations in order to ensure effective construction management.
The book explores common causes of project failure, outlines the key factors of successful projects, shows how to implement Public Private Partnerships, explores the different stages of structuring projects and reveals what it takes to manage difficult client/contractor relationships. International case studies of major projects clearly illustrate how communications and relationships can lead to helpful solutions to commonly encountered challenges to achieve positive results. 
  • Offers a comprehensive review of the impact human dynamics play in the success or failure of construction projects
  • Stresses the importance of the leadership of senior management
  • Offers a chapter on managing and resolving conflicts
  • Shows why the industry needs better risk management
  • Includes new information for managing communications and relationships
  • Explores new areas of technology that are being embraced by the construction industry 
Written for construction industry senior management in both the corporate and government sectors, project management professionals, consultants and supply chain participants, Global Construction Success includes material for minimizing risk and improving management quality and profitability when working with international construction projects.

Author's Notes xxi

Acknowledgements xxiii

Biographies xxv

Preface xxxiii

Why Have I Written this Book? xxxiii

Objectives xxxv

My Journey from the Australian Bush to International Construction xxxvi

Who Should Read this Book and Why? xxxix

Conclusion xxxix

1 Introduction 1
Ian Williams

1.1 Opening Remarks 1

1.2 Section A – The State of the Industry (Chapters 2–6) 2

1.3 Section B – People and Teamwork (Chapters 7–11) 2

1.4 Section C – The Right Framework – Forms of Contract, Business Models, and Public Private Partnerships (Chapters 12–15) 3

1.5 Section D – Management of Risk (Chapters 16–23) 3

1.6 Section E – Robust Processes – Corporate and Project Management (Chapters 24–27) 4

1.7 Section F – Emerging Conclusions (Chapter 28) 4

1.8 Final Note 4

Section A – The State of the Industry 5

2 Global Overview of the Construction Industry 7

2.1 Introduction – Globalisation Impacts on Construction 7

2.2 Construction Industry Cycles 7

2.3 Industry Trends – Business Models, Contract Types, Financing, Technology 8

2.4 Regional Trends – Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, the Americas, UK and Europe 9

2.5 Bad News and Its Consequences 11

2.6 The Good News – Significant Improvements in the Right Direction 13

2.7 Summary and Conclusions 15

3 Construction Consultants in the Global Market Place 19
Judy Adams

3.1 Introduction 19

3.2 Political Risk 19

3.3 Regional/Cultural Differences 20

3.4 Payment or Fee Recovery 21

3.5 Localisation 21

3.6 Failure to Attract or Retain Skilled People 21

3.7 Contractual Terms and Conditions 22

3.8 Ability to Deliver Across Major Projects/Programmes 22

3.9 Cyber Security 22

3.10 Contractor Failure 23

3.11 Design Liability 23

4 Common Causes of Project Failure 25

4.1 Introduction 25

4.2 High Profile ‘Problem Projects’ Since 2000 26

4.3 The 35 Common Causes 30

4.4 Project Leadership – How Bad Can It Get? 41

4.5 Lessons Learnt from Incompetent Site Management 43

4.6 Conclusion 44

5 The Use and Abuse of Construction Supply Chains 45
Professor Rudi Klein

5.1 Introduction 45

5.2 Construction: An Outsourced Industry 46

5.3 Adverse Economic Forces Bearing Down on the Supply Chain 47

5.4 Supply Chain Dysfunctionality 47

5.5 Addressing the Issues and Solutions 48

5.6 The Future 58

6 A Discussion on Preventing Corporate Failure: Learning from the UK Construction Crisis 59
Stephen Woodward and Nigel Brindley

6.1 A Call to Action’ 59

6.2 Lifting the General Level of Corporate Management 61

6.3 Improving Risk Management 64

6.4 Joint Recommendations by the Corporate Risk Manager and the Investment Banker 65

6.5 Conclusions 67

Section B – People and Teamwork 69

7 Obstacles to Senior Management and Board Success 71

7.1 Introduction 71

7.2 Groupthink and Team Selection 72

7.3 Training 73

7.4 Choosing the Wrong Strategy and/or Projects 74

7.5 Need for ‘Macro-Level’ Focus, with Effective Corporate Oversight (‘the Wider Picture’) 75

7.6 Effective Communication and Delegation 76

7.7 Summary 77

8 Structuring Successful Projects 79

8.1 Introduction 79

8.2 So What Happens on Successful Projects? What Are the Key Factors that Create Success? 79

8.3 The Different Activities and Responsibilities, from Concept to Completion of Construction 80

8.4 Checklist for Structuring Successful Projects 85

8.5 Summary 90

9 Understanding and Managing Difficult Client/Contractor Relationships 91
David Somerset

9.1 Introduction 91

9.2 Problems Posed by Difficult Clients 91

9.3 How to Manage Difficult Clients 92

9.4 Problems Posed by Difficult Contractors 95

9.5 Steps to Manage Difficult Contractors 96

9.6 Conclusion 97

10 Social Intelligence – The Critical Ingredient to Project Success 99
Tony Llewellyn

10.1 Introduction 99

10.2 Project Intelligence 100

10.3 Social Intelligence 100

10.4 Learning and Development 102

10.5 Building Cohesive Teams 103

10.6 Introducing a Specialist into Your Team 103

10.7 Coaching the Team 104

10.8 Managing Behavioural Risk 104

11 Practical Human Resources Considerations 107

11.1 The Changing Job Requirements in the Construction Industry – Government and Corporate 107

11.2 The Argument for Broader Based Training of Tomorrow’s Industry Leaders 108

11.3 What Makes a Good Leader in the Construction Industry – for Contractors, Government Departments and PPP Players? 108

11.4 Personnel Recruitment and Positioning – A Different Perspective 109

11.5 Leadership Considerations 110

11.6 The Inherent Risks of Decision Making for Survival 112

11.7 The Human Fallout from a Failed Project 113

11.8 Summary 114

Section C – The Right Framework – Forms of Contract, Business Models, and Public Private Partnerships 115

12 The Contract as the Primary Risk Management Tool 117
Rob Horne

12.1 Common understanding (or lack thereof) 118

12.2 Clarity 118

12.3 Knowledge transfer 119

12.4 Adaptability 119

12.5 Acceptance 119

12.6 Application 119

13 The New Engineering Contract (NEC) Interface with Early Warning Systems and Collaboration 129
Richard Bayfield

14 Development Contracting – An EfficientWay to Implement Major Projects 133
Jon Lyle

14.1 Introduction 133

14.2 Major Projects Are Unique 133

14.3 Commitment and Costs 134

14.4 The Tools for Successful Development Contracting 135

14.5 Conclusion 145

15 A Critical Review of PPPs and Recommendations for Improvement 147

15.1 Introduction 147

15.2 Proponents and Opponents 150

15.3 Project Viability and Necessary Due Diligence 153

15.4 Some Current Perspectives on the PPP Process 155

15.5 Efficient Structuring and Managing of PPPs 160

15.6 PPP Claims and Disputes 164

15.7 Summary of Key Factors for Success and Minimising Risk 165

Section D – Management of Risk 167

16 A Tale of Oil Rigs, Space Shots, and Dispute Boards: Human Factors in Risk Management 169
Dr Robert Gaitskell QC

16.1 Human Factors in Risk Management 169

16.2 The Challenger Disaster 169

16.3 Dispute Boards 171

16.4 Nuclear Fusion 173

16.5 The ITER Project 174

16.6 Conclusion 175

17 Effective Risk Management Processes 177

17.1 Introduction 177

17.2 Effects of Human Behaviour in Risk Management 177

17.3 Typical Project Risks 178

17.4 Keeping Risk Management Simple 180

17.5 Procedures to Eliminate, Mitigate, and Control Risks 183

17.6 Conclusions 187

18 Risk Management and its Relation to Success in the North American Context 189
John McArthur

18.1 Introduction 189

18.2 Relationship of Success to Risk Management 191

18.3 Planning for Success and Managing Risks 194

18.4 Go/No-Go Stage 194

18.5 Summary 196

18.6 Recent Projects: A Success and a Failure 197

19 Early Warning Systems (EWSs), the Missing Link 199
Edward Moore and Tony Llewellyn

19.1 Introduction 199

19.2 Look Outside of the Technical Bubble 199

19.3 Cultural Barriers 200

19.4 Learning to Value ‘Gut Feel’ 201

19.5 Case Study 202

19.6 Summary 204

20 Construction Risk Management – Technology to Manage Risk (ConTech) 205
Rob Horne

20.1 Introduction to Technology in Construction 205

20.2 What Do We Mean by ConTech? 206

20.3 ConTech as a Tool Not a Toy 209

20.4 Major Projects – Temporary Smart Cities 211

20.5 Smart City Principles 212

20.6 ‘Smart’ Commercial Management 213

20.7 Dehumanising Risk Management 214

20.8 Joining the Dots for Exponential Growth 218

20.9 Project Control and Risk Management –The Future 223

20.10 Conclusion 225

21 Intelligent Document Processes to Capture Data and Manage Risk and Compliance 227
Graham Thomson

21.1 Introduction 227

21.2 The Dimensions of IDF 229

22 Organisational Information Requirements for Successful BIM Implementation 233
Dr Noha Saleeb

22.1 Introduction 233

22.2 Leveraging Organisational Information Requirements for Business Success 234

22.3 Developing OIRs Using BIM 236

22.4 Conclusion 243

References 243

23 Examples of Successful Projects and how they Managed Risk 245

23.1 Introduction 245

23.2 People, People, People – London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games 245
Ian Williams

23.2.1 Governance 247

23.3 Managing Risk – Tunnels for Heathrow’s Terminal 5 (2001–2005) 249
Ian Williams

Acknowledgements 255

Bibliography 256

23.4 Cyber Design Development – Alder Hey Institute in the Park, UK 256
Stephen Warburton

23.5 The Importance of Clear Ownership and Leadership by the Senior Management of the Client and the Contractor 258
Charles O’Neil

Section E – Robust Processes – Corporate and Project Management 261

24 Planning and Programming Major Projects 263
Charles O’Neil and Rob Horne

24.1 The Foundations of Success 263

24.2 Monitoring ‘Progress versus Programme’ and ‘Cost-to-Complete versus Budget’ 265

24.3 Extensions of Time, Concurrency and Associated Costs 267

24.4 Ownership of Float 270

25 Managing and Resolving Conflict 275
David Richbell

25.1 Conflict Can Be Good 275

25.1.1 Different Truths 275

25.1.2 Difficult Conversations 275

25.2 Co-operation Versus Confrontation 276

25.3 We Are All Different 276

25.4 Fairness or Justice (or Both) 278

25.5 Relationships 278

25.6 The Move Towards Collaborative Working 279

25.7 Best Deals 279

25.8 Staged Resolution 279

25.9 Conclusion 282

26 Dispute Resolution – The Benefits and Risks of Alternative Methods 283

26.1 Introduction 283

26.2 Avoiding Formal Disputes Through Early Communications and Negotiations 283

26.3 Main Considerations of the Parties When They End Up in a Formal Dispute 285

26.4 What Do Commercial Clients Want Out of a Formal Dispute Process? 285

26.5 Working with Lawyers 286

26.6 Techniques for Negotiating Settlements 287

27 Peer Reviews and Independent Auditing of Construction Projects 291

Section F – Emerging Conclusions 295

28 Conclusions and Recommendations 297

28.1 Overview 297

28.2 Where Is the Global Industry Headed? 298

28.3 Key Observations and Recommended Actions 299

28.4 Final Thoughts 303

Appendix A 305

Index 307

Lord Andrew Adonis –   Chair of the UK National Infrastructure Commission 2017


“Charles O’Neil and his co-authors have produced an impressive and important contribution to the construction industry that should be read by everyone involved in construction projects”.



Ian Rogers – Senior Legal Adviser, Arup

“This hard-hitting collection of essays reveals the real problems in the construction industry, identifying not just the symptoms and how they might be treated, but also tackling the underlying causes. People and governance are top of the list and until these are addressed, change will be merely superficial. It is a vitally important contribution to the debate over the future of a key global industry”.


Datuk Sundra Rajoo – Director Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC)

                               – Past President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, U.K. (2016)


“This book is an exceptional collection of insight and wisdom from various experts across the global construction industry. It provides a 360-degree overview of the current state of international construction, including impacts of globalization, a detailed analysis of industry and regional trends in construction as well as the challenges faced by various sectors in the industry, making it relevant across the globe. This book is also written in simple and effective language, identifying the key areas of improvement within the industry and offering viable solutions for all stakeholders concerned. The author has also done a remarkable job in structuring the book in such a way that makes it thorough and comprehensive, which is a boon for all of us in the industry. I believe this book will be a useful reference for all stakeholders concerned with navigating the emerging issues and challenges of risk management that plagues this industry today”



Chris Blythe – CEO, The Chartered Institute of Building


“A great read with something for anyone wanting a successful construction industry. Construction is the art of getting ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Throughout the book, contributors show the best and worst behaviours that give the industry its extremes of reward and frustration.  The wrong behaviours take the ordinary and produce the mediocre by repeating mistakes and not learning from them. Construction is too important as a driver of the global economy for the risks of failure to be as high as they are. This book offers an agenda for de-risking construction.”



Gerhard Bester – MD of CAPIC, a South-African owned, specialist consulting services firm in the infrastructure development, construction and engineering industries.


“Africa’s decision makers, both public and private, clients and contractors alike, should jump at the opportunity to acquire the benefit of hindsight from the industry in first world countries – Africa generally follows their infrastructure delivery mechanisms, contracting regimes and unfortunately, consequential flaws…Africa has some additional variables to make things more challenging, but we cannot afford to ignore the wisdom and guidance on the way forward if we are to achieve “Global Construction Success” as presented by Charles O’Neil and his co-authors in this aptly named book!”



Don Ward – CEO of Constructing Excellence, U.K

“So many Governments and industry stakeholders around the world are anxious to see construction sector reform for major improvement in delivery. So why doesn’t it happen faster? The insights in this book are hugely valuable to policy makers and industry leaders everywhere, with their focus on getting strong leadership and vision for projects, modernising the capability of people culture & behaviours in project teams, and aligning common processes and tools. Perhaps most crucial is the alignment of commercial arrangements throughout the supply chain.”


Matthew Bell – Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of Studies, Construction Law, Melbourne Law School

“Introducing this immensely useful book, Charles O’Neil writes that ‘there is no better experience than learning the hard way’. This is true. Charles and his colleagues have generously shared their experience on construction projects around the world so that the rest of us can recognise and steer away from the commercial, technical and – especially – human factors which cause so many projects to founder”.


Nick Barrett – Editor of Construction Law Magazine, U.K.

This book emphasising human factors and risk management in delivering successful construction projects comes at a potentially crucial turning point for the construction industry, with a new readiness to consider major changes to business models and processes evident following the Carillion collapse in the UK. The industry needs to read it”.


Mark Farmer – Author of The Construction Industry Review “Modernise or Die” 2016.


"I believe we stand at an unprecedented crossroads in the construction industry's evolution driven by a structural and long-term decline in skills and capability. This is no longer another false dawn driven by periodic discontent. The risks of continuing are now all consuming and include the increasingly destructive consequences of poor risk management and embedded conflict. The burgeoning technology led opportunity we are now presented with as our potential saviour will not be maximised though without embracing fundamentally different organisational, procurement and contractual models that drive process integration & common interest. This book is a very useful reference point using key lessons learned and pointing the way forward."


Catherine Green, NZ Building Disputes Tribunal, BuildLaw

"In this book, O’Neil and his contributors, have carefully distilled several lifetimes of experience engaged in the construction sector to provide the reader with an extraordinary collection of essays, including references to real-world examples, making the book a practical and easily digestible narrative and analysis which can only assist the reader to attain global construction success."