Strategies for integrating the use of off-site production technologies in house building

Despite extensive research into attitudes and practice surrounding the uptake of off-site production technologies, there is limited understanding of how best to integrate their use into business processes at the organizational level. Drawing on an action-research case study with a leading U.K. house-building organization, this paper scrutinizes the processes through which off-site technologies were adopted and utilized. The use of off-site methods was fundamentally framed by the key stages and business milestone reviews of the house-building process, which together represented a complex and multilayered structure of business management. Five off-site reviews were aligned with the business processes. Strategies for integrating the use of off-site technologies are examined. It was crucial to establish an overall off-site strategy and integrate it into the process from land acquisition on. Organizational learning embraced the adoption of off-site methods, whereas extra reporting and management efforts introduced bureaucracy. Culture change was commonly perceived as difficult and painful. Earlier engagement with supply chains was advocated for favoring the off-site approach and improving business efficiency, whereas it also demanded greater commitment of the house builder to specific supply chains and therefore exposed the business to risks associated with planning and market changes. The strategies should facilitate building companies’ strategic management of off-site technology.