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Towards a Learning Process for Ad hoc Engineering Change Teams
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation. (Innofacture)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1224-792X
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Engineering changes disrupt plans, can affect technical solutions negatively, and put project organisations under strain. However, engineering changes are a crucial part of the design process and a prerequisite in adapting to a dynamic project environment.

Prior research has suggested the efficacy of the pre-emptive actions of reducing the number of, and front-loading, changes. However, pre-emptive measures to stop engineering changes from materialising are difficult to achieve if there are shortcomings in the project processes. Even with formal processes in place, they often fall by the wayside when changes occur, replaced by ad hoc practices. In such cases, when a change is raised, an ad hoc team of practitioners is formed to manage it. In the informal handling of the change that follows, practitioners tend to focus on risk aversion rather than weighing risks against the opportunities.

To improve the performance of ad hoc teams in managing engineering changes, an organisational-learning approach has been developed. This research is based on the fields of both project- and engineering-change management and applies a multiple case study design with cases from product development and engineering-type projects. Research results are based on data from over 40 interviews with project managers and engineers as well as over 100 change requests, the contents of which were analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively. The research methodologies both of soft systems and projects-as-practice were used to analyse results from qualitative data.

This research further develops the concept of ad hoc teams in the context of engineering design, thus contributing to the field of strategic guidelines and organisational issues regarding engineering-change management. The strength of the suggested process lies in its capture both of the specific and the practical. It is specific in the sense that it focuses on issues related to emergent changes and its sibling initiated changes to raise awareness of their differences and how they relate to possible opportunities within changes. It is practical in that it acknowledges the importance of an active line-management organisation that supports project planning, execution, and development to sustain a culture of learning as it relates to the engineering-change management process, pre-, in- and post-change. Through a systems view, the process also incorporates change types and the concept of change carriers. Finally, the suggested process includes practical management guidelines for emergent changes and initiated changes. To that end, this research specifies a workshop structure to heighten practitioners’ awareness of their practices and praxis in handling engineering changes. 

Abstract [sv]

Tekniska förändringar som uppstår i ingenjörsprojekt kan störa planering och stressar ofta projektorganisationen. Förändringar kan t.ex. leda till fler förändringar, vilket i sin tur kan ha negativa effekter på de tekniska lösningarna som förändringarna krävt. Samtidigt är förändringar i projekt en förutsättning för att anpassa tekniken och dess flexibilitet efter den ibland snabba förändringshastighet som präglar projektmiljöer. God förändringshantering kan alltså också bidra till nya innovativa och viktiga lösningar.

Tidigare forskning pekar på god framförhållning och förstudier som lösningar för att reducera och hantera tekniska förändringar. Framförhållning och förstudier kräver dock en förhållandevis stabil projektmiljö och viss förutsägbarhet, men detta saknas ofta i många tekniskt innovativa och utmanade projekt. Det har visat sig att när en projektorganisation trots allt har rutiner och processer för att hantera förändringar så överges dem i många fall när en nog komplex förändring måste bemötas. När en teknikförändring av tillräcklig dignitet initieras formas i de fallen ett förändringhanteringsteam specifikt för att hantera just den situationen. Teamets temporära natur ökar dock bristen på rutiner, vilket leder till en benägenhet att inte våga tänka nytt och förhastade slutsatser i problemlösningsarbetet som följd.

För att förbättra förändringshanteringsteamets kapacitet föreslås genom detta forskningsprojekt en process baserad på organisationslärande. Forskningen tar avstamp i så väl tidigare forskning kring projektledning som hantering av tekniska förändringar. Vidare används fem fallstudier från produktutvecklings- och större leveransprojekt. Totalt har över 40 intervjuer med projektledare och ingenjörer verksamma i de studerade projekten genomförts. Till detta har över 100 tekniska förändringar detaljstuderats och kvantifierats. Analyserna baseras dels på Soft Systems Methdology, dels på Projects-as-practice som angreppsätt.

Forskningsbidraget berör forskningsfält så som strategiska riktlinjer och organisationsfrågor kring hanteringen av tekniska förändringar i projekt. Resultatet visar hur förändringshanteringsteamen arbetar fram beslutsunderlag. Det visar också på goda exempel – där förändringshanteringsteamens förmåga att finna möjligheter i annars negativt betingade processer lyfts fram – och hur deras arbete kan gå till. Styrkan i den föreslagna organisationslärandeprocessen ligger därför i att den kombinerar det specifika och det praktiska i förändringshanteringsteamens utmaning. Den är specifik på det sätt att den fokuserar på skillnaden mellan negativt och positivt betingade förändringar samt att den gör teamet uppmärksamma på dess skillnader. Men den är dessutom praktisk i den meningen att den stödjer teamet genom både projektets och förändringens olika faser. För att åstadkomma detta utgår lärandeprocessen från en workshopmetodik, där teamet och deras praktiker för att förbättra kvalitet på förändringshanteringen, står i fokus. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Eskilstuna: Mälardalen University , 2018. , p. 106
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 273
National Category
Engineering and Technology Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-40918ISBN: 978-91-7485-405-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-40918DiVA, id: diva2:1247634
Public defence
2018-10-25, Filen, Mälardalens högskola, Eskilstuna, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Knowledge FoundationAvailable from: 2018-09-12 Created: 2018-09-12 Last updated: 2018-09-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Production System Change Strategy in Lightweight Manufacturing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Production System Change Strategy in Lightweight Manufacturing
Show others...
2016 (English)In: Procedia CIRP, 2016, p. 160-165Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Two change management strategies: a minimum change, exploitation strategy (kaizen) and a maximum output, exploration strategy (kaikaku) have been applied in a manufacturing case study. Value stream mapping and discrete event simulation were used to analyse the production system changes, with regards to robustness and total lead-time, to increase knowledge of how to choose change management strategy. The results point out that available time is crucial. It is important to consider not only product specification and return of investment, but also the change and risk management. Future research should develop engineering change management further.

Keywords
Change management strategy, Engineering Change Management, exploitation, exploration, Kaikaku, Discrete event simulation, Manufacture, Natural resources exploration, Risk management, Change management, Engineering change managements, Exploration strategies, Product specifications, Return of investments, Value stream mapping, Economics
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-33199 (URN)10.1016/j.procir.2016.04.137 (DOI)000387666600027 ()2-s2.0-84986617334 (Scopus ID)
Conference
26th CIRP Design conference CIRP DESIGN 2016, 14 Jun 2016, Stockholm, Sweden
Projects
Storskalig produktion av produkter i lätta materialXPRES
Funder
XPRES - Initiative for excellence in production researchVINNOVA
Available from: 2016-09-22 Created: 2016-09-22 Last updated: 2018-12-28Bibliographically approved
2. Managing emergent changes: ad hoc teams' praxis and practices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing emergent changes: ad hoc teams' praxis and practices
2018 (English)In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 11, no 4, p. 1086-1104Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore how emergent changes are handled in research and development (R&D) projects. R&D projects' business potential lies in their exploration of the unknown; conversely, this makes them uncertain endeavours, prone to emergent changes. Design/methodology/approach Uses a single-case-study design, based on a projects-as-practice perspective and a soft systems methodology (SSM) analysis, to map how ad hoc R&D teams handle emergent changes, specifically the solution identification and assessment phase and the implementation plan. An R&D project in the power industry, involving over 250 engineers, was analysed. Findings This paper shows how emergent changes are handled differently from initiated changes during the decision-making phase. The system analysis shows that the most critical factors for managing these changes are: collective reflection between project parties; and including experienced engineers in implementation-plan reviews. Practical implications The results are of relevance both to R&D managers aiming to improve team performance and to general project management. Informal notions of emergent changes can be formalised in the change request process. Weaknesses in the project team's organisation are highlighted, and details of how of how to mitigate these are provided. Originality/value Combines engineering-design and project-management research on emergent changes, adding to the former regarding people-organisational and strategic issues. Furthers understanding of the projects-as-practice approach and emergent change (deviations) handling by ad hoc teams in a project environment. SSM has not previously been used to explore aspects of projects-as-practice, and this is a novel way of adding to the body of knowledge on project praxis and practise.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
EMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD, 2018
Keywords
Project management, Research and development, Emergent change, Soft systems methodology, Ad hoc teams
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-40561 (URN)10.1108/IJMPB-12-2017-0163 (DOI)000441516600012 ()2-s2.0-85049525820 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2018-08-30 Created: 2018-08-30 Last updated: 2018-09-14Bibliographically approved
3. MANUFACTURING ASPECTS OF OFFSHORE FABRICATION AND INSTALLATION
Open this publication in new window or tab >>MANUFACTURING ASPECTS OF OFFSHORE FABRICATION AND INSTALLATION
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Maritime Engineering, ISSN 1479-8751, E-ISSN 1740-0716, Vol. 156, p. 277-284Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The research presented in this paper aim at identifying research commonalities between shipbuilding, offshore fabrication practices and manufacturing. As part of an exploratory effort a literature review and a case study of two offshore structures projects were performed. Research concerning shipbuilding and offshore fabrication, together with literature from other industries in construction, larger engineering projects and traditional manufacturing was reviewed. The two offshore structures projects were analyzed by means of interviews and complemented by direct observations and document reviews. The study concludes that there are gaps in the research concerned with holistic perspectives on the fabrication and installation phases of shipbuilding and offshore projects. The number of actors involved in any project of this magnitude increase barriers and communication interfaces. The dynamic nature of these types of projects was also observed and the changeability should always be a accounted factor when dealing with projects of this sort. The interviews held as part of the verification of observed phenomena in literature was limited to two projects and a single company and actors perceptions. However the collected data served well in being complementary to the literature review. It could be the task of academia to patch the gaps for overall project success, in the cases where single industry actors simply cannot see the benefit or do not have the recourses to fill them themselves. This study combines findings from traditional manufacturing industries, shipbuilding, offshore structures fabrication and large engineering projects in general.

National Category
Design Other Engineering and Technologies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-26318 (URN)000342725600007 ()2-s2.0-84920099881 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-10-31 Created: 2014-10-31 Last updated: 2018-09-12Bibliographically approved
4. Structuring the engineering change management process around change carriers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Structuring the engineering change management process around change carriers
2015 (English)In: IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, 2015, p. 416-420Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Prior research in the field of offshore platform project execution has mainly focused on early project phases and planning, as a means to increase project reliability for offshore installations. Later phases, however, as fabrication, transport and installation have not been given the same attention. Projects of this kind frequently suffer both large and small deviations and as projects progress deviations accumulate. Deviations then have to be resolved in a timely manner not to impair quality and scheduling of an overall project. Empirical data was gathered from two offshore platform projects in the form of archival data, observations and interviews. The findings revealed that engineering change, as a tool, should preferably be used sparingly in early phases and as necessary in later phases. This research also suggests that engineering change can be organized around change carriers. In this way, it is predicted that the processes of change can become more stable and predictable.

National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-31464 (URN)10.1109/IEEM.2015.7385680 (DOI)000380434300085 ()2-s2.0-84962030701 (Scopus ID)9781467380669 (ISBN)
Conference
IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, IEEM 2015, 6 December 2015 through 9 December 2015
Available from: 2016-04-22 Created: 2016-04-22 Last updated: 2019-06-25Bibliographically approved
5. The planning and documentation problem of emergent changes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The planning and documentation problem of emergent changes
2016 (English)In: IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, 2016, p. 956-960Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Emergent changes are common in large engineering projects and in such dynamic project environments planning and documentation work are often deprioritized in favor of actionable decisions. Previous research has failed to look at the planning and documentation problem as a sociotechnical system as it relates to project managers' and engineer's practical work. In this article, a single case study approach is used to reveal how project managers and engineers plan and document emergent changes specifically from a construction point of view. It was found that the construction planning and documentation was in large performed as part of the safety planning of the emergent change, not as a task in and of itself. To improve the quality of planning and documentation it is suggested that be officially integrated as part of the safety planning.

Keywords
Documentation, emergent change, large engineering project, planning, project management, Engineering research, Managers, Safety engineering, System program documentation, Case study approach, Construction planning, Documentation problems, Emergent changes, Large engineering projects, Project environment, Project managers, Sociotechnical systems
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-34769 (URN)10.1109/IEEM.2016.7798019 (DOI)000392208100196 ()2-s2.0-85009834013 (Scopus ID)9781509036653 (ISBN)
Conference
2016 International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, IEEM 2016, 4 December 2016 through 7 December 2016
Available from: 2017-02-08 Created: 2017-02-02 Last updated: 2018-09-12Bibliographically approved
6. Opportunity discovery in initiated and emergent change requests
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Opportunity discovery in initiated and emergent change requests
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this research, we analyze practitioner practices and praxes associated with discovering and exploiting opportunities in project-based change requests. Change requests are the aggregation of engineering changes and are considered in a redesign process. Raising a change request initiates the formation of an ad hoc team to manage it. A single case study design was employed using change request records and practitioner interviews from an engineering project. Additionally, the collected data was used to analyze discovered and exploited opportunities from a projects-as-practice perspective. Prior research on change requests has shown that practitioners often view changes in a risk-averse manner. However, a risk-averse mindset does not encompass opportunities. Our findings emphasize the importance of the informal structure of ad hoc teams, as opposed to formal structures, to aid in opportunity discovery. The informal structure enables cross-hierarchal discussions among team members and draws on the proven experience of the team members. Finally, the dynamic, dual structure of ad hoc teams (engineering and on-site teams) is an essential part of opportunity discovery. Adding to the existing knowledge in the field of engineering change management, we present a framework that supports practitioners in identifying how to turn engineering changes into successful opportunities. 

Keywords
engineering change management; deviation management; uncertainty management; projects-as-practice method
National Category
Engineering and Technology Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-40917 (URN)
Note

conditionally accepted

Available from: 2018-09-12 Created: 2018-09-12 Last updated: 2018-12-05Bibliographically approved

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