• Vol 10, No 4 (2019)
  • Architecture

A Project Management Competency Framework for Industrialised Building System (IBS) Construction

Izatul Laili Jabar, Abdul-Rashid Abdul-Aziz, Subashini Suresh, Suresh Renukappa, Adnan Enshassi

Corresponding email: arashid@usm.my

Cite this article as:
Jabar, I.L., Abdul-Aziz, A., Suresh, S., Renukappa, S., Enshassi, A., 2019. A Project Management Competency Framework for Industrialised Building System (IBS) Construction. International Journal of Technology. Volume 10(4), pp.657-666
Izatul Laili Jabar Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
Abdul-Rashid Abdul-Aziz - School of Housing Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Minden, Penang, Malaysia - Faculty of Built Environment, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, 94399 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malays
Subashini Suresh Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton WV1 1LY, England
Suresh Renukappa School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Wolverhampton
Adnan Enshassi Faculty of Engineering, Islamic University of Gaza, P.O. Box 108 – Gaza City, Gaza Strip – Palestinian Authority
Email to Corresponding Author


The Malaysian government has been promoting the use of the industrialised building system (IBS) for construction projects since 2003. Worldwide, there are a number of project management competency standards available, but they are generic in nature. This study was conducted to devise a competency framework suitable for industrialised building system (IBS) construction projects. A three-pronged mixed research method comprising qualitative interviews, a quantitative questionnaire survey and face-to-face validation was adopted. The competencies generated were classified as primary and secondary, and assigned to the various initial, planning, implementation, monitoring and closing construction life cycle phases. The proposal fills a gap in the project management landscape by testing and combining academic and non-academic literature with the ‘emergent’ competencies from the interviews. These are used in conjunction with conventional project management wisdom. IBS is increasingly being applied worldwide, although under different terminologies; therefore, the framework could also potentially be of use beyond Malaysia.

Competencies; Industrialised building system; Malaysia; Pareto analysis; Project management


The construction industries of advanced economies have long moved away from traditional on-site construction towards the assembly of factory-manufactured components (Lu, 2009; Blismas & Wakefield, 2009; Larsson et al., 2011). This new method is known under different terminologies; for example, offsite construction (OSC) pre-assembly, prefabrication, the modern method of construction (MMC), offsite production (OSP), offsite manufacturing (OSM), and the industrialised building system (IBS). The benefits include the involvement of  fewer unskilled workers, higher productivity, better quality, lower wastage, more prudent use of building materials,  speedier construction time,  increased environmental protection,  improved site cleanliness, enhanced health and safety performance, and tighter coordination and management (Pan et al., 2004).

Like other developing countries such as China (Gan et al., 2017), the Malaysian government has been promoting the industrialised building system (IBS) to reduce the dependency on foreign site operatives, whilst advancing a more systematic approach to construction. The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) developed the IBS Roadmap 2003-2010, thereafter replaced by the IBS Roadmap 2011-2015. Since 2008, it has been mandatory for public building projects to achieve a minimum 70% IBS content.

Among the existing project management competency standards which have become a source of reference for practising project managers are the Project Manager Competency Development Framework (PMCD Framework) published by the Project Management Institute (PMI); National Competency Standards for Project Management by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM); and the Individual Competence Baseline by the International Project Management Association (IPMA). However, these standards are generic in nature. A thorough literature review yielded a limited number of publications on the competencies required for managing IBS construction projects. Indeed, Gan et al. (2017) recently expressed concern over the lack of technical guidelines for IBS construction, which was inhibiting widespread use of IBS in China. Therefore, this research was conducted with the aim to develop a project management framework suitable for IBS construction projects. The specific research objectives were as follows:

1)         To identify the competencies required when managing IBS construction projects in the different project lifecycle phases.

2)         To separate these into primary and secondary competencies.

The research borrowed Cartwright and Yinger (2007) definition of competencies as “a cluster of related knowledge, attitude, skills, and other personal characteristics that affect a major part of one’s job, correlate with performance on the job, [and] can be measured against well-accepted standards...” This studyis prescriptive in nature, as prescriptive research is at the heart of project management discipline (Ahlemann et al., 2013). Apart from academic material, this research also refers to non-academic documents, thereby bridging the gap between academic theory and practice (Badewi, 2016).

Results and Discussion


This paper makes three significant contributions to the project management landscape. The first is new project management insights into what competences are required for IBS projects. These can supplement the generic project management frameworks produced by established project management professional bodies. The second contribution is the validation of non-academic literature related to project management competencies for IBS. Third, the research has also tapped into the experiences of project managers.

The competency framework is interesting, in that it reveals that different emphases are stressed in different construction phases: appropriate and timely information flow to the appropriate parties during the initial phase; time management and operational issues in the planning phase; interfacing in the implementation phase; time management, quality control and precision in the monitoring phase; and quality assurance in the closing phase.

As mentioned in the introduction, IBS (often under different terminologies) is gaining popularity around the world. The framework has pragmatic value not only in Malaysia, but potentially elsewhere. For this reason, it has been designed not to be too difficult to follow. 


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