The last decades’ projectification of the public sector has created projects that carry a history of being conducted through continuous activities. One such example is the Swedish Transport Administration’s contracts for road maintenance, which during the 90’s went from being run as continuous production with in-house resources, to being outsourced to contractors.
Emilia Nilsson Vestola is a PhD student at the division for industrialized and sustainable construction at Luleå University of Technology and have, together with her supervisors Per Erik Eriksson, Johan Larsson and Tina Karrbom Gustavsson (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), written the article Temporary and permanent aspects of project organizing: Operation and maintenance of road infrastructure. The researchers have mapped organizational aspects with regard to the four categories: time, task, team and transition, and have been able to identify permanent aspects in all four categories.
"When we started studying these road maintenance projects we quickly realized that they have many prerequisites that differ from the typical building project, which most often have the task to build something new and thereby create a transition between the start and the end of the project. The maintenance projects’ task is to preserve the standard of the road network, there should be no difference between the start and the end of the project", Emilia says.
Even though these types of projects contain many permanent aspects, they are treated as being entirely temporary – with a project management not adjusted to their special prerequisites. The results from the research is not only usable to the Swedish Transport Administration, but also for other actors that handles similar projects.
"To have knowledge about, and understanding of, which permanent aspects there are in the project enables a project management that can make the most of the possibilities for e.g. innovation and collaboration. For example, we have seen that it is easier to diffuse innovations between projects with permanent aspects, and that there are opportunities for a high form of collaboration because the team often have long relationships to each other", Emilia concludes.