Digital transformation in construction projects - the project managers role, responsibilities and competences.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Civil Engineering


Even in 2020 the construction industry is one of the world's least digitalised, despite potential productivity gains and cost reductions. The reasons for this are manifold, but some characteristics make it particularly challenging for this industry to introduce digital technologies. These are fragmentation, lack of replication, transience and decentralization. Whilst individual construction companies are starting to digitize their operations there is still a long way to go for the digital transformation of construction projects. Such projects typically involve a number of different companies ranging from contractors to architects and engineers to consultants with each of them having their own and unique digital infrastructure. To achieve a higher degree of digitalisation in construction projects - and therefore productivity gains and cost reductions - digital technologies need to be integrated across multiple companies and the way by which communication, collaboration and contracting takes place needs to be re-considered. This systemic shift requires the construction sector to develop specific competencies on digital technologies, as well as the willingness to embrace such a transformation.

Whilst initiatives by the UK Government such as the commitment to the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) across all government funded construction projects are invaluable drivers towards digital transformation, they are not sufficient. The proposed PhD study intends to focus on digital transformation on the project level and how the project manager can facilitate it. Currently, we don't know how the project manager can contribute to this transformation. It is also unclear what the project manager's responsibilities in are this area: is s/he responsible to promote and drive the implementation and integration of digital technologies in construction projects or is s/he only responsible for delivering the client's objectives? Depending on the project manager's roles and responsibilities in this process we also need to look at the competences required by the project manager to face this changing project environment. Recent studies suggest that organisations put a strong emphasis on the development of technical and leadership skills for project managers, but less so on digital skills with the construction industry even being below average. Overall, we need to develop an understanding of what project managers can and should do to facilitate the digital transformation of construction projects and which competences they require to successfully do so.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513258/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2436332 Studentship EP/R513258/1 30/09/2020 01/07/2021 Samuel Frith-Salem