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Last edited 16 Feb 2021
Decision making process for construction projects
Typically, the client will be the ultimate decision maker on construction projects, as they will generally have instigated and will be paying for the project and are likely to have a long-term interest in it after the design and construction process has been completed.
However, the client is rarely a single person, even on relatively small projects and the client organisation is likely include a number of groups or individuals with an interest in, responsibility for or control over the project.
Depending on the complexity and size of the project, and whether the client is in the public or private sector, the levels of decision makers within the client organisation might be structured as follows:
- Main board of directors / Investment decision maker
- Project director / Senior responsible owner
- Board representative / Project sponsor
- Project board.
- User panels.
- Project managers
However, there may be other parties with an interest in the project that may be involved in the decision-making process. This might include:
- Funders and shareholders.
- The local authority.
- Other statutory authorities and non-statutory consultees.
- The emergency services.
- User groups.
These parties may not all have the same objectives or views and so it is important that a clear management strategy is in place to ensure that the right information is available at the right time to ensure the right people are able to make the right decisions. Building information modelling is seen as one of the tools that can help ensure this happens. For more information see: Building information modelling.
Typically the decision making process itself will involve passing through a number of key decision points, or gateways, at which the client assesses the state of development of the project and considers; whether it satisfies their strategic objectives, that it is affordable, that value is being delivered, and that risks are acceptable. They can then decide whether to progress to the next stage.
Allowing the client to make decision about whether to proceed at gateways requires the preparation and submission of relevant information by the consultant team, contractors and other suppliers. Decisions may also involve expert assessment and advice from client representatives, independent client advisers, project managers, or even external bodies (such as external design reviews).
It is possible that the client will decide not to proceed, or will ask for further work to be carried out, whether this is revision of the design, or undertaking value management exercises to re-align proposals with the available budget.
Decisions to proceed may be accompanied by the introduction of change control procedures, freezing certain aspects of the project. This ensures that approved parts of the project are not changed without the express permission of the client.
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