Risk management in small construction projects

Abstract: The Swedish construction sector has for some time struggled with problems that result in increased costs, delays and faults. To sort out and analyse these problems, the federal government appointed a commission that produced the report "Skärpning gubbar" (2002). This report highlights that despite ongoing work with quality management and internal quality surveillance, improvements still lack. Risk management is about thinking ahead and calculating the risks and uncertainties involved in a project, which is mostoften part of the quality management system in an organization. The systems available have been developed to focus on medium to large sized projects, leaving behind the smaller projects needs, conditions and application. However, the smaller projects are an essential part of the construction sector, with 83% of all projects smaller than 15 MSEK.In this study the research questions have focused on the smaller projects and their tools and methods to handle risks, and how the theoretical framework in the field of risk management corresponds to routines in the involved companies. The study also presents previous research in the field of risk management in construction. Finally, the drivers and obstacles for risk management in small projects are also focused upon.An interview study was carried out to answer the research questions. Triangulation was done using document and literature searches. Ten projects were involved with three key role individuals in each; site manager and project managers from the client and construction company, totaling 28 interviews.The results from this study show a need for improvements regarding risk management in small sized construction projects. Present risk management lacks both system and application. The results also show that risk management education and training is low, almost non-existent, in the studied projects. Also, the management system is more of an obstacle than of beneficial use for efficient risk management, with frustrating routinesthat are too extensive. Previous research similar to this study shows that the reliance on the individual experience and background is high and that the most commonly used tools are different types of checklists. This could, however, not be considered systematic risk management. Critical to how risk management works at site are the individuals and their judgments. The management systems adopted on site have not been essential or in some cases not even of any use.This thesis, as well as the report "Skärpning gubbar" (2002), and previous research, show that merely using management systems is not enough to attain efficient control of construction projects. This thesis suggests continuing with research that focuses on theindividuals and their attitudes, the organizations culture and the maturity in relation to risk and risk management.