Benchmarking: An International
Journal, Vol. 8 No. 3, 2001,
pp. 223-239. # MCB University
Development of a readiness
assessment model for
concurrent engineering in
Malik M.A. Khalfan, Chimay J. Anumba and Patricia M. Carrillo
Loughborough University, UK
Keywords Concurrent engineering, Construction industry, Assessment
Abstract Ongoing research and development into the implementation of concurrent
engineering (CE) within the construction industry have made researchers think how to make
CE implementation better, more effective, and more efficient. This has led researchers to
investigate CE implementation efforts within other industry sectors, which suggest to carry out a
CE readiness assessment of a construction organisation before the adoption of some CE aspects
within the industry that has facilitated the CE adoption in other industries. Now the problem is that
there is no model or tool available, which will help in assessing the readiness of the organisation.
Therefore, this paper discusses the development of a CE readiness assessment model for the
construction industry. It also includes a comparative review of existing readiness assessment tools
and models that have been specifically developed and successfully used in the manufacturing and IT
sectors. It argues that readiness assessment of a construction organisation is a necessity for the
implementation of CE in construction and assesses the applicability of existing tools and models to
the construction industry. And finally the development of a new readiness assessment model for
the construction industry called ‘‘BEACON’’ is presented.
The UK Government initiated reports such as the Latham Report (1994) and the
Egan Report (1998) have recommended the improvement of the construction
industry’s business performance. The need for greater co-ordination and
integration within the industry has led to the adoption of various concepts from
other industries. One of these, which offers major scope for effective coordination and integration within the industry, is concurrent engineering (CE)
(Kamara et al., 2000). CE, sometimes called simultaneous engineering or parallel
engineering, has been defined in several ways by different authors. The most
popular one is that by Winner et al. (1988), who state that concurrent engineering:
. . .is a systematic approach to the integrated, concurrent design of products and their related
processes, including manufacture and support. This approach is intended to cause the
developers, from the outset, to consider all elements of the product life cycle from conception
through disposal, including quality, cost, schedule, and user requirements.
In the context of the construction industry, Evbuomwan and Anumba (1998)
define CE as an:
. . . attempt to optimise the design of the project and its construction process to achieve
reduced lead times, and improved quality and cost by the integration of design, fabrication,
construction and erection activities and by maximising concurrency and collaboration in
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This is in sharp contrast with the traditional approach to construction project
In order to introduce aspects of CE in the construction project delivery
process, various research efforts have been undertaken. These include ToCEE,
which focused on developing information exchange systems that support a CE
environment over the building life cycle (ToCEE, 1997); CICC, which was
concerned with enabling communication across the whole of construction
project and at all stages of the life cycle (Duke and Anumba, 1997); CONCUR,
which focuses on electronic information exchange from the inception to
tendering and construction planning stage (CONCUR, 1999); projects such as
WISPER, SPACE, and OSCON address the development of an integrated
project model, which is considered important for CE in construction, and are
reviewed by Anumba et al. (2000); COMMIT, which addresses the issues of
integration and collaboration by efficient information management (Rezgui et
al., 1997); DESCRIBE, which focuses on the development of software to
facilitate concurrent storage, access, and modification of design information,
irrespective of the location of the designer (Carnduff et al., 1997); and IDS,
which deals with the integration of various tools for the concurrent design and
fabrication of steel structures (Wailes et al., 1997). A detailed account of these
efforts is compiled and presented by Kamara et al. (2000). They have concluded
that much more needs to be done if the reported benefits of CE in other
industries such as manufacturing can be realised in the construction industry.
It is also concluded that an important aspect of CE implementation in the
construction industry, which is often overlooked, is the need to carry out
readiness assessment of the construction supply-chain for CE implementation.
This is expected to establish the level of CE maturity of different sectors of the
supply-chain with a view to informing implementation efforts. Therefore, in
order to establish the level of maturity and improve planning for CE
implementation, the construction industry needs a specific readiness
assessment model (Khalfan and Anumba, 2000a).
This paper compares the existing CE readiness assessment tools and
models, examines their appropriateness for the construction industry in the
light of current practices within the industry, and discusses the development of
a new readiness assessment model (the BEACON model) for the construction
CE readiness assessment
As discussed in the previous section one approach which has been successfully
used to improve CE implementation planning is to conduct a readiness
assessment of an organisation prior to the introduction of CE. This helps to
investigate the extent to which the organisation is ready to adopt CE
(Componation and Byrd, 1996), and to identify the critical risks involved in its
implementation within the company and its supply chain. CE readiness
assessment has been successfully used for the planning of CE implementation
in several industry sectors, notably manufacturing and software engineering.
Comparison of readiness assessment tools and models
There are several tools and models, which are being used for readiness
assessment of organisations for CE. These are briefly described and compared
below (see Table I).
RACE (Readiness Assessment for Concurrent Engineering). This tool was
developed at West Virginia University (United States) in the early 1990s and is
widely used in the software engineering, automotive and electronic industries.
It could be modified for use in the construction and other industries. The RACE
model is conceptualised in terms of two major components: the organisational
processes for product development, and the information technology to support
the product development process (CERC Report, 1993; Wognum et al., 1996).
The process component is subdivided into ten elements and the technology
component into six as shown in Table I.
PMO (The Process Model of Organisation). This model was developed to
assess and analyse the processes and technology of an organisation. PMO is a
model, which can basically be used for analysing and designing an
organisation, its processes and technology in the context of the market in which
that organisation operates. The model is used to detect bottlenecks that prevent
the organisation from achieving its objectives. Hence, the model is useful in the
awareness and readiness stages of the improvement cycle of the product
development process (Wognum et al., 1996).
PMO-RACE (A combination of PMO and RACE). PMO-RACE is the
combination of two models (PMO and RACE) which was developed by the
researchers at University of Twente and Eindhoven University of Technology
(The Netherlands) in the mid-1990s. Since the PMO can support the
identification of key problem areas and the definition of business drivers while
the RACE-method is good at determining the performance level of the product
development process and supporting the definition of improvement plans once
the business drivers have been set, it was suggested that both methods could
be combined to support improvement cycles. The combination would deliver
‘‘the best of both worlds’’ (de Graaf and Sol, 1994).
PRODEVO (A Swedish model based on RACE). PRODEVO was developed
at Swedish Institute for Systems Development (SISU) and this development
was parallel to the development of PMO-RACE tool. Some of the dimensions
and also a couple of the questions are assimilated in the presented tool from
RACE model, and to indicate a relation the working name, ‘‘Extended RACE’’,
was adopted earlier (Bergman and Ohlund, 1995).
CMM (Capability Maturity Model). CMM was basically developed for
software development and evaluation and was developed by the Software
Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in order to manage the
development of software for the US Government, particularly that which was
to be used by the Department of Defence in late 1980s (Aouad et al., 1998). This
Comparison of CE
criteria RACE PMO PMO-RACE PRODEVO CMM SPICE (PM)2 SIMPLOFI
Aspects covered Process
Teams within the
adaptive level, and
are the same as
this is the
both of these
Customer and user
Team and project
Planning to execute
Cost estimates for
Utilisation of PM
Working as a
The structure of
with functions or
The degree to which
The degree of
automation in the
Status of tool/
Survey method Questionnaire and
past and current
Questionnaire Questionnaire and
criteria RACE PMO PMO-RACE PRODEVO CMM SPICE (PM)2 SIMPLOFI
Yes, also uses
Can use any
Yes None Yes, but also use
None None Yes
Ease of use Yes, but
answer and is
Yes, but seemed
to be incomplete,
RACE later on
Yes, and it seems
to be completed
Yes Yes Yes, MCQs are
Yes Yes, user-friendly
Can be used for
made for this
Basically used for
Yes, mainly for
also used for CE
Yes, but basically
used for CE
Basically used for
Basically used as
a yardstick for
Basically used to
assist those who
for use in
Yes, but requires
Yes, but basically
Yes, but RACE
Yes, but it
Yes, but basically
Yes, but this tool
Yes, but this tool
to position an
level with other
Yes, but this tool
focuses on the
product in an
Therefore, in any
can be used for a
and it would give
the position of the
project and not
the position of the
Source: Khalfan and Anumba (2000c)
model can be used as readiness assessment model and, in fact, the RACE model
was developed based on ideas from CMM. The CMM is also currently being
used at the University of Sussex in developing benchmarks for process
positions across various industries, including the construction industry.
SPICE (Standardised Process Improvement for construction enterprises).
This tool was developed at the University of Salford, UK, and is in the form of a
questionnaire, which is designed to evaluate the key construction processes
within a construction organisation (SPICE Questionnaire, 1998). SPICE is
basically intended for evaluating the maturity of the processes of construction
organisations and not for CE readiness assessment. It is based on CMM and is
presently a research prototype. However, it could be used to assess the processrelated aspects of CE implementation (Finnemore and Sarshar, 2000).
Project Management Process Maturity (PM)2 model. This five-level (PM)2
model was developed at University of California, Berkeley in late 1990s. The
primary purpose of the five-level (PM)2 model is to use as a reference point or a
yardstick for an organisation applying project management (PM) practices
and processes. This five-level (PM)2 model further suggest an organisation’s
application expertise and the organisation’s use of technology, or it might
produce recommendations on how to hire, motivate, and retain competent
people. It can also provide and guide necessary processes and requirements for
what is needed to achieve a higher PM maturity level (Kwak and Ibbs, 1997).
SIMPLOFI positioning tool. The tool was designed and developed by the
Department of Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough University. It
formed part of the output of the SIMPLOFI (Simultaneous Engineering through
People, Organisation and Functional Integration) project in the mid-1990s. The
tool focuses on the introduction of one specific product in an organisation. This
tool assists those people who are responsible for product introduction within an
organisation in answering the question: ‘‘I know what product I want to
introduce – How do I organise the introduction of this product to achieve this
most effectively?’’ (Brookes et al., 2000).
Framework for comparison
The framework for comparison discusses the characteristics of the available
tools and models under a number of generic criteria, which include:
. aspects covered (which discusses the main issues addressed in each tool
and the extent to which they address core CE principles);
. the status of the tool (which shows the current standing of the model/
tool in terms of whether it is a research prototype, commercial tool or
currently under development etc).
. survey method (this identifies how the data collection is carried out –
that is either by questionnaires, interviews or both);
. software availability (this identifies those tools and models which are
accompanied by a software that can be used during the readiness
. ease of use (an indication of the user-friendliness of the tools/models);
. the usage of tools for readiness assessment for CE (this identifies the
tools and models which can be used for CE readiness assessment); and
. applicability to the construction industry (since the basic purpose of this
comparison is to identify the most suitable tool/model for the
construction industry, this criterion assesses the potential use of the
models and tools in the construction industry).
From the comparative analysis (Table I), it could be concluded that most of the
tools and models address improvements in the product development process, and
the use of technology to facilitate the development process. Some of the tools and
models also cover the organisational environment to support the development
process. The status of the tools and models shows that most of them are under
development with only very few being used on a commercial basis. With regard
to software availability, there are only a few tools and models which are
accompanied by their own software. Although many of the tools and models are
easy to use and user-friendly. Most of the tools and models reviewed were
developed to assess the product development process within an organisation,
they can also be used as a CE readiness assessment tool after appropriate
modification. However, some of the tools and models were basically designed for
CE readiness assessment. An assessment of the use of these tools and models
within the construction industry shows that none of the tools and models is
ideally suitable for use in construction (Khalfan and Anumba, 2000a).
CE readiness assessment of the construction industry
As discussed in previous sections, CE readiness assessment is used to improve
CE implementation. It is conducted before the introduction of CE within an
organisation, and investigates the extent to which the organisation is ready to
adopt CE. While this has been carried out in other industry sectors, it is
unusual for such assessments to be undertaken in construction supply chains.
Furthermore, Muya et al. (1999) show that current industry practices do not
support integration of the whole supply chain during the construction process.
It is therefore imperative that, for CE implementation in the construction
industry to deliver the expected benefits, readiness assessment of the
construction industry should be undertaken. This will ensure that all sectors of
the industry have reached an acceptable level of maturity with respect to the
critical success factors for CE implementation, and may indicate the likelihood
of the following benefits:
. better and more effective CE implementation within the construction
. enabling the industry to evaluate and benchmark its project delivery
. development of more appropriate tools for CE implementation within
. enabling the industry to identify areas which require improvements or
. enabling the industry to realise the need for CE implementation in order
to bring about improvements in the whole project delivery process.
Choice of an assessment model for construction
After analysing the comparison matrix (see Table I), it could be said that RACE
would be the most appropriate for use as the readiness assessment tool for CE
in the construction industry because of the following reasons:
. Aspects covered in the RACE model such as customer focus, team
formation, management systems, communication and integration
systems, etc., can be used readily for CE readiness assessment in the
construction industry, after some modification, due to the similar
structure and requirements of the construction industry.
. Commercial usage of RACE model makes it more reliable.
. The RACE model questionnaire addresses and assesses the critical
business drivers in the construction industry.
. Since RACE is basically a CE readiness assessment model, it is
more appropriate than other tools and models, which were developed
to assess the project/product development process within an
However, the RACE model requires adaptation and modification for this
purpose because, basically, this tool was developed for readiness assessment
for CE in other industries such as manufacturing and software engineering
industry. Thus, it needs to be tailored to the requirements of the construction
industry and the people working within the industry. The following are some
of the reasons which indicate that RACE in its current form is not suitable for
the construction domain and requires modification for use in assessing the
. RACE is basically designed for assessing the readiness of other
industries such as software, automotive, manufacturing, and electronic
industries, all of which have different characteristics to construction.
. Aspects covered focus on the processes in the above mentioned
industries and require changes to assess the construction process.
. The structure of teams within above mentioned industries are different
from typical construction project teams.
. The level of technology usage in the aforementioned industries is
different from that in the construction industry.
. The products of the other industry sectors satisfy a large number of
customers whereas a construction project is one-off in nature, typically
fulfilling the needs of a particular client or organisation.
. The level of integration, communication, co-ordination, and information
sharing are different between construction and the above-mentioned
. Managing a manufacturing product and a construction project require
different levels of management skills.
Development of a model for construction
A CE readiness assessment model has been developed by the authors for
assessing the construction industry. The proposed model named ‘‘Concurrent
Engineering Readiness Assessment Model for Construction’’ (CERAM
Construct model), is shown in Figure 1. A questionnaire was also developed for
the model, which covers all the elements shown in the model. The proposed
model had similarities with the RACE in terms of the key assessment elements
(i.e. most of them cover the same issues), questionnaire criteria, and
diagrammatic representation (spider or radar diagram). However, it differs
from the RACE model in that it focuses specifically on construction processes.
The model is divided into two sections or aspects (as shown in Figure 1, the
upper half presents eight process-related elements and the lower half contains
four technology-related issues. The process aspect includes the client focus
regarding the project, improvement in the construction process itself, formation
and development of teams for carrying out project tasks, improving the
management systems of the organisation, maintaining the project and process
standards, bringing agility into the construction process, and employing and
exploiting project strategy. The technology aspect includes the services related
to communication, co-ordination, information sharing and integration (Khalfan
and Anumba, 2000b).
Development of the model was carried out in several steps. A literature
review of CE in other industries was carried out which identified the critical
success factors and pit-falls during CE implementation. The next step was the
review of CE readiness assessment models used in other industries; this
included a comparative study, which is summarised in Table I. These steps
then led to the development of the CERAMConstruct model and its associated
questionnaire. Before using the model for the assessment within the
construction industry, a pilot study was carried out for both the model and its
associated questionnaire. The purpose of the pilot study was to validate the
model and its associated questionnaire, and obtain feedback for further
refinement of the model and its associated questionnaire. The pilot study was
carried out with three construction organisations, whose senior management
staff filled in the assessment questionnaire. The results of the pilot study
suggested areas for improvement within the questionnaire and the model itself.
The pilot study also revealed the following limitations of the model:
. inadequate focus on people and product in the model;
. the four-level assessment scale of the model meant that there was no
neutral or middle level; and
. coarse-grained model division in terms of number of elements assessed.
Therefore, in order to incorporate the feedback from the pilot study and
overcome the limitations, the model was refined and modified, resulting in a
new model, the BEACON model. This refined model is presented in Figure 2.
The BEACON model
The BEACON model (see Figure 2) is divided into four quadrants or sections to
represent four elements or aspects of the model, which are process, people,
project, and technology. The first quadrant contains five critical process factors
used to assess the process maturity level of a construction organisation. The
second quadrant contains four critical people factors used to assess the team
level issues within the organisation while the third quadrant is comprised three
critical project factors used to assess the client’s requirement and design related
issues. The fourth quadrant presents five technology related critical factors
used to characterise the introduction and utilisation of advanced tools and
technology within the organisation. The key advantage of the model is that it
does not only include the process and the technology aspects as covered in
other models but also introduces two new dimensions, people and project
elements. These elements were covered to a limited extent in existing readiness
assessment models and tools but were not adequately emphasised. The
rationale behind including the people and the project elements is that both of
them are as critical as the process and the technology elements and should be
distinguished (Ainscough and Yazdani, 1999; Al-Ashaab and Molina, 1999;
Brooks and Foster, 1997; Chen, 1996; Crow, 1994; Khalfan and Anumba, 2000a;
Love and Gunasekaran, 1997; Martin and Evans, 1992; Paul and Burns, 1997;
Young, 1999). This is one of the novel features in the BEACON model.
For all of the elements, five levels have been adopted from the RACE model
(CERC Technical Report, 1992), which indicate the level of maturity of an
organisation with respect to the quality of project development process, teamworking, completed project itself, and technology employed within the
organisation. These five levels are Ad-hoc, Repeatable, Characterised,
Managed, and Optimising and are described in Table II. The Ad-hoc Level
indicates that an organisation does not have any idea about CE practices or is
not ready to adopt CE whereas Optimising Level shows that the organisation is
ready to adopt CE or is already practising CE within its project delivery
A model-based questionnaire (called the BEACON Questionnaire) has been
developed for use in assessing construction organisations such that the
elements covered in this model would be assessed using this questionnaire. The
assessment scale has five possible options: ‘‘Always’’, ‘‘Most of the Time’’,
‘‘Sometimes’’, ‘‘Rarely’’, and ‘‘Never’’. The BEACON Questionnaire can be used
for assessing CE readiness of:
Maturity level Description
Ad-hoc This level is characterised by ill-defined procedures and controls, and
by confused and disordered teams that do not understand their
assignment nor how to operate effectively. Informal interaction with
the client is observed, management of the project development
process is not applied consistently in projects, and modern tools and
technology are not used consistently
Repeatable Standard methods and practices are used for monitoring the project
development process, requirements changes, cost estimation etc. The
process is repeatable. There are barriers to communicate within the
project development team. Interaction with the client is structured but it
is only at the inception of the project. Minimal use of computer and
Characterised The project development process is well characterised and reasonably
well understood. A series of organisational and the process
improvements have been implemented. Teams may struggle and fall
apart as conflicts are addressed but a team begins to respect individual
differences. Most individuals are well aware of client’s requirements but
client is not involved in the process. Moderate use of proven technology
for increasing group effectiveness
Managed The project development process is not only characterised and
understood but is also quantified, measured, and reasonably well
controlled. Tools are used to control and manage the process. The
uncertainty concerning the process outcome is reduced. Work is
accomplished by the project development team and conflicts are
addressed. Client is involved throughout the process. Appropriate
utilisation of available technology and computer-based tools
Optimising A high degree of control is used over the project development process
and there is a major focus on significantly and continually improving
development operations. Team performance is regularly measured, and
performance measures are continuously validated. Client is a part of
project development team from inception and all project decisions are
prioritised based on client’s needs. Optimal utilisation of appropriate
plant and technology and technology-mediated group work is observed
. A static construction organisation, for example an architectural or
construction organisation etc., having their own organisational structure
and having different teams for different on-going projects.
. A virtual construction organisation, which consists of various members
from different construction organisations, forming a Project
Development Team (PDT) and working on a single project (Khalfan
et al., 2000). Figure 3 illustrates the PDT and its sub-teams, which may
be responsible for supervising the whole project development process
from inception until hand-over.
The development of the BEACON model is important for the implementation of
CE within the construction industry. The benefits of the model are outlined
. The BEACON model and its associated questionnaire are specifically
tailored to meet the needs of the construction supply chain.
. It addresses four key elements and aspects of CE implementation which
are only partly addressed by other models.
. Assessment of the construction supply-chain using the model will
enable the development of guidelines for the effective and more
appropriate implementation of CE in construction.
. The model will enable the construction industry to identify aspects of its
project delivery process that require improvements to facilitate CE
. The survey and assessment could be carried out either in the form of
structured interviews; alternatively, an electronic version of the
questionnaire could be completed by remote respondents.
. The model is simple and easy to use, as the questionnaire can be completed
using tick boxes and the graphical representation readily generated.
. Even for organisations not considering the implementation of CE, the
model can act as a useful tool for self-assessment on the four key
elements: process, people, project, and technology.
An assessment methodology for the construction supply-chain is finalised, and
will draw on the experience gained in using the CERAMConstruct model to
assess a small number of construction sector organisations. The next stage in
the development of the BEACON model will involve the development of an
associated readiness assessment software, which would facilitate the automatic
generation of the assessment result on the model diagram. This would be then
followed by the detailed survey and assessment of key sectors of the
construction supply chain. This will involve clients, consultants, contractors,
sub-contractors, and material suppliers. Where possible, an assessment would
also be carried out on existing supply-chain on an ongoing construction project.
The assessment results would be utilised to formulate CE implementation
strategies for the construction supply-chain.
Summary and conclusions
This paper has discussed CE readiness assessment of the construction industry
and presented a comparative review of the available tools and models. It has
also outlined the rationale behind the development of a new CE readiness
assessment model – the BEACON model – for the construction industry and
presented some of its major features. The benefits of the model and its
associated questionnaire are discussed and further work in the project
specified. The following conclusions can be drawn:
. Implementation of CE within the construction industry has the potential
to contribute towards client satisfaction by improving quality, adding
greater value, reducing cost, and reducing construciton schedules.
. It is also necessary to carry out CE readiness assessment of the industry
before CE implementation so as to ensure that maximum benefit is
. In order to assess the industry, a specific CE readiness assessment
model is required because existing models are not appropriate in their
. The BEACON model has been developed specifically for CE readiness
assessment of the construction supply-chain, and will facilitate the
Typical team structure
within a virtual
formulation of strategies for effective CE implementation in the
The construction industry can realise significant benefits from the adoption of
CE. Readiness assessment of the industry will ensure that the right approaches
are adopted for this purpose. The work presented in this paper is contributing
in this regard and will, in future, provide detailed guidelines for the effective
implementation of CE in the construction industry.
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