Enabling world-class performance in Ghanaian Contractors: a framework for benchmarking

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Significant progress has been made in many countries towards improving the performance of their respective construction industries. Ghana bucks this trend with widespread underperformance by contractors through a high incidence of projects which fail to meet client objectives. Ghanaian contractors are faced with a lot of problems which affect their performance. These include poor access to finance, low technologies, poor human resource base, low profitability and low turnovers all of which affect the viability and sustainability of Ghanaian contractors and the Ghanaian construction industry as a whole. Evidence from past research suggests that the Ghanaian construction industry will benefit from the experiences of countries with more advanced construction industries. Benchmarking the Ghanaian construction industry against the best-in-class both within and outside will expose Ghanaian contractors to the standards of excellence achieved in other industries and other countries, how these were achieved and strategies on how such standards can be attained in the Ghanaian construction industry. Benchmarking, however, is virtually unknown within the Ghanaian construction industry. Whilst benchmarking offers opportunities for improving Ghanaian contractor performance, the associated costs are often high. Problems such as the identification of suitable benchmarking partners and the lack of conceptual models hinder the uptake of benchmarking in the Ghanaian construction industry. This study explores the development of a simple, cost effective benchmarking framework for Ghanaian contractors. Relevant literature, existing benchmarking frameworks, models for improving performance and international excellence awards are reviewed. The weaknesses and strengths of the existing frameworks, models and international excellence awards are identified. In the development of a benchmarking model for Ghanaian contractors, the identified strengths and weaknesses are taken into account. To enhance the usability of the benchmarking framework for Ghanaian contractors, critical success factors (CSFs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) are identified from which users may select the CSFs applicable to their respective needs. The most important of these factors are selected and incorporated into the benchmarking framework developed for Ghanaian contractors. The study reviews relevant literature to identify the factors which affect the performance of Ghanaian contractors most. Using a questionnaire-based survey of Ghanaian contractors, identified factors were further explored. The survey found that “access to finance” was the most common problem amongst Ghanaian contractors. This problem is explored further with banks through a questionnaire-based survey to identify the factors which affect contractor access to finance. Using the KPIs developed for Ghanaian contractors, a performance measurement system (PMS) has been developed for Ghanaian contractors. The PMS can be used by Ghanaian contractors, their clients and other third party organisations to be able to independently assess the performance of Ghanaian contractors. The performance measurement system consists of two separate tools – the Project Scoresheet (ProScor) and the Contractor Scorecard (ConScor). ProScor is used to measure contractor performance on specific projects whilst ConScor can be used to track the overall performance of contractors over a number of projects. The Benchmarking Framework for Ghanaian contractors, Benchmarking Implementation Model, Project Scoresheet and Contractor Scoresheet respectively were validated in interviews with a select panel of experts from across the broad spectrum of sectors within the Ghanaian construction industry using semi-structured questionnaires. Improvements and modifications were made to the outputs using the feedback received from the validation interviews.
Thesis submitted to the Department of Building Technology, College of Architecture and Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Degree Doctor of Philosophy, Construction Management.