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Improving construction processes

Describe about the Continuous Business Improvement for Systematic Busines Approach.

Construction industry is one of the major industries that require a systematic approach to its various functions. The engineering and construction domain is one of the major industries that require a clear framework to follow in order to thrive. From what can be noticed, it is clear that since the last two centuries, the engineering and construction domain has worked from a functional point of view. In such a framework, it is quite natural for all the departments to carry on their functions as defined. However, as a result of this system, it can be seen that the various disciplines within the organization works on its own without thinking of what goes on in the other departments. Also, there is not much thought about how the activities of one discipline fit into the other. As a result, there is a communication gap between the various departments of the organization. The various professions and organizations of the project thus have an adversarial effect on each other. In such a structure, the focus on the customer is ultimately clouded and the entire outcome of any product is ultimately undermined.

In the construction industry, the key to improving productivity is moving away from the functional thinking and laying stress on the production based philosophy that is commonly seen in the production industry. The key to achieving the goal of productivity is in fact an improvement in the construction process. In such a case, the aim should be to achieve a system that focuses on processes and achieve the goal of a process based organization (Adamson and Pollington, 2006). The construction managers need to shift their focus from the traditional systems. The traditional systems on this field is generally task oriented where each of the participant is assigned a particular task and the person carries out the task without thinking of how it fits into the role. However, the managers need to focus on how the tasks interact with each other. There should also be an idea of how each of the tasks interacts with the client. The focus on the process can thus be an effective means of reducing the communication gap with the client. The concentration on the goal can be an effective means of realigning the behaviors and the practices of the team leaders of the various disciplines(Bakerjian, 1993). As a result, the team leaders work more in a coordinated manner that would help the organization achieve the desired results. As the leaders have a common goal, they can all work towards the achievement of that goal. As a result, the actions of one team leader would not contradict that of the other.

Transferring good practices

The process thinking method is also effective owing to the current market scenario. It is because of the changing nature of the customer needs and demands that there is a wide range of possibilities in the manufacturing process(Bennett, 2016). It is because of this that the task oriented function has become outdated. The task oriented process makes the workers function in a particular manner. In such a case, the organization would not be able to deliver what the client demands unless and until there is a process system for continuous improvement.

One of the key factors to continuous improvement is the transfer of good practices. The transfer of good practices across the organization is essential to the growth of the organization as without the transfer of these practices, the implementation of any practice would be essentially worthless(Concept of Value Engineering in Construction Industry, 2016).  In such a case, a project based organization, like a construction company, should focus on a system of learning which would provide the company with the means for the flow of the information within the organization. From what we have understood till now, it is quite evident that the various departments within the company need to work in a coordinated manner in order to ensure a smooth productivity(Daniel, 2015). As a result, it is extremely important to facilitate a transfer of good practices within all the departments. This not only adds to the uniformity to the overall process but also ensures that the entire process is a productive one.

In order to facilitate the process management system, there must be an understanding of the core, support and management processes. The first thing that needs to be understood here is the core management process. The core management process is the one that directly adds value to the products. In such a manner, the customer can perceive the actual value of the products and as a result, the company gets benefitted. Understanding the core process can help add value to the production and facilitate a process of improvement(Fischer, 2006). The support processes again are important in the overall improvement of the organization and the productivity. The support process provides a suitable environment for the business to grow. As a result, the improvement in the overall productivity is guaranteed. The construction industry lays most of the stress on the management process. It is the management process that has an effect on the productivity of the organization.

Core, Support and Management Processes

An improvement process is not a simple one. An organization must follow various steps before I transforms into one that is continuously improving. The organization is not a static that has the same form since its inception till the end. The improvement is one of the processes that follow some steps before the improvement can become a part of the organization’s operations.

In the first step, the organization is chaotic in nature. The organization may be big or small but one thing is common irrespective of its size. The fact that the organization does not have a clear sense of direction can be clearly seen in the organization(Laughlin, Shockley and Wilson, 2003). It is because of this that project visibility and predictability are poor. Good project practices are local, and are not repeated or “institutionalized” across the company. Ineffective planning and co-ordination undermine good practices. Organizations make commitments that staff or the supply chain cannot meet(Honey, 1997). This results in a series of crises. During a crisis, projects typically abandon planned procedures; instead, individuals do whatever activities it takes to get the job done, with little regard for the effects on other people. In construction, 17 time and cost schedules are often under tight control. Hence the crisis often leads to compromises on quality.

The second step proceeds to give the organization a certain sense of direction and project predictability. At this step, the organization has established policies and procedures for managing the major project-based processes(LePatner, Jacobson and Wright, 2007). The policies and procedures are sorted from their earlier projects. The organization clearly chalks out which of its earlier plans have been successful and applies them to the other projects as well. As a result, the company has an idea of what plans to use even before the project starts. As a result, there is a continuous improvement in the productivity. This is because the organizations have already located their key selling points and how to utilize them for future purposes(Peace, 2010). As a result, they have the ability to make a plan of action that would be conducive to their product. It is because of this that the second stage is so important. As they companies have an idea of their line of action, the managers make realistic commitments to the clients and supply chain. It is because the company now has an experience from their past projects. If the experiences are properly utilized, the organization can benefit from those measures. Managers track quality and functionality on site as well as time and costs. Also, the problems can be tracked and dealt with as they arise. It is because of this that the project standards are maintained throughout the functioning of the project as well as the development and planning of the future projects.

Stepwise Improvements

The third step is the sharing of good and conducive practices that would help the organization work smoothly. After the guidelines have been set, it is important to locate where the key strengths lie. The location of the key strengths helps the organization(Ross, 2003). After the key strengths have been located, the organization can then work towards a learning oriented system where the practices that have proved to be beneficial to the company are propagated. As a result, the good practices are evenly present throughout the organization. The good practices not only help the organization benefit from one way. There is also coordination among all the members in a manner where the organization is benefitted by the mutual understanding among the various members in all the departments(Sarkar, 2011). For this to happen, the organization must at this stage, work towards the formation of a uniform code of conduct. The code of conduct can then be followed by the members of the organization for the uniform growth in all departments and an overall improvement of the organization.

The fourth step in the improvement of the organization is the objective measurement of the processes and product. This is achieved after the guidelines for acceptable behavior has been set. The process of improvement here makes it sure that the various products are being manufactured at the desired quality. The products can then be considered to be of a fixed benchmark. The objective measurement thus takes note of not only the products but also the quality of the process and the supply chain management(Sloan and Sloan, 2011). An improvement in all the three spheres ensures that the overall process is up to the mark. The overall improvement of any organization depends on these three factors. As a result, the development in the three spheres fuels the development in the organization’s overall sphere.

The final step in an organization’s development process is one where we can say that the organization has matured. It is this stage where the organizations begin the process of continuous improvement. After all the steps have been accomplished, the organization goes into a system where all the processes are aligned. However, there still needs to be more and more improvement with the changing scenarios in the socio economic and other environments where the business operates. As a result, the organization is in a process of continuous improvement(Uff, 2009). However, the organization knows how to tackle the various problems and set a clear pathway for the various functions. It is because of this that the organization goes into a system of continuous improvement.

Conclusion

An organization needs to improve in order to survive. The engineering and construction field is one of the most dynamic industries that are subject to an environment that is constantly changing. Continuous improvement is mandatory if it needs to survive. The industry is also a competitive one and hence it needs to stay ahead of its competitors. However, there needs to be certain guidelines based on which the organization needs to go ahead. It is because of this that there needs to be a plan of continuous improvement. The organization must at first operate and locate its key points. After that, it should use its experience to locate the problems and solutions. As soon as it achieves this, it goes into a process of continuous improvement.

References

Adamson, D. and Pollington, T. (2006). Change in the construction industry. London: Routledge.

Bakerjian, R. (1993). Continuous improvement. Dearborn, MI: Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Bennett, S. (2016). Continuous Improvement in Continuous Quality Control. Clinical Chemistry, 62(10), pp.1299-1301.

Concept of Value Engineering in Construction Industry. (2016). IJSR, 5(4), pp.1231-1237.

Daniel, L. (2015). Safety Leadership Defined within the Australian Construction Industry. AJCEB, 15(4), p.1.

Fischer, R. (2006). Continuous improvement. SPIE Professional.

Honey, P. (1997). Questionnaires for 360 ?feedback. Maidenhead: P. Honey.

Laughlin, S., Shockley, D. and Wilson, R. (2003). The library's continuous improvement fieldbook. Chicago: American Library Association.

LePatner, B., Jacobson, T. and Wright, R. (2007). Broken buildings, busted budgets. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Peace, S. (2010). Innovating a global industry. Construction Innovation, 10(4).

Ross, W. (2003). Continuous improvement. Cirencester: Management Books 2000.

Sarkar, D. (2011). Eight deadly faux pas of continuous improvement. Performance Improvement, 50(8), pp.5-8.

Sloan, K. and Sloan, T. (2011). Dispersion of continuous improvement and its impact on continuous improvement. International Journal of Technology Management, 55(1/2), p.43.

Uff, J. (2009). Construction law. London: Sweet & Maxwell.

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