Development of a Fuzzy System for Change Prediction in Construction Projects
Change management has been the focus of different IT systems. These IT systems were developed to represent design information, record design rationale, facilitate design coordination and changes. They are largely based on managing reactive changes, particularly design changes, in which changes are recorded and then propagated to the relevant project members. However, proactive changes are hardly dealt with in IT systems. Proactive changes require estimating the likelihood of occurrence of a change event as well as estimating the degree of change impacts on project parameters. Changes in construction projects often result from the uncertainty associated with the imprecise and vague knowledge of much project information at the early stages of projects. This is a major outcome of the case studies carried out as part of this research. Therefore, the proposed model considers that incomplete knowledge and certain project characteristics are always behind change causes. For proactive changes, predicting a change event is the main task for modelling. The prediction model should strive to integrate these main elements: 1) project characteristics that lead to change 2) causes of change, 3) the likelihood of change occurrence, and 4) the change consequences. It should also define the dependency relationships between these elements. However, limited data (documented) are only available from previous projects for change cases and many of the above elements can only be expressed in linguistic terms. This means that the model will simulate the uncertainty and subjectivity associated with these sets of elements. Therefore, a fuzzy model is proposed in this research to capture these elements. The model analyses the impact of each set of elements on the other by assigning fuzzy values for these elements that express the uncertainty and subjectivity of their impact. The main aim is to predict change events and evaluate change effects on project parameters. The fuzzy model described above was developed in an IT system for operational purposes and was designed as a Java package of components with their supporting classes, beans, and files. This paper describes the development and the architecture of the proposed IT system to achieve these requirements. The system is intended to help project teams in dealing with change causes and then the change consequences in construction projects.
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