Is Cumulative Impact Assessment and Management (CIAM) a Myth?



By Victor Labrousse

SKEMA Business School

Lille, France



This paper has been conducted through the course entitled “International Project Contract”, for the Master of Science “Programme and Project Management and Business development” of Skema Business School.

The Purpose of this paper is to discuss the possibility and the options to perform a Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA), as this is key to project success, especially within the construction industry. The lack of CIA can result either in Project cost increasing, Project delays, or eventually Project failure. Assessing potential Cumulative Impact resulting from the high number of Change Orders this industry requires seems to be a tremendous task, and needs to be done methodologically.

In order to conduct an effective CIA, Project’s stakeholders may consider several options, the most efficient being the Matrix of Interactions, the Loop analysis, and System Dynamics. SD is the best method but it is the hardest to implement, thus for smaller projects, the Loop analysis and the Matrix of Interaction may be sufficient to have an overall overview of the Cumulative Impact.

CIA is far from being a myth. It is rather a complex key success factor that needs to be taken into account when considering doing a construction Project, in the continuously changing environment the world is.

Key words: Contract / Projects / CIA / Change Order / Cumulative Impact / Risks / Productivity


It is highly common, within the construction industry, that Owners of a project requests Change orders, as the projects evolve. Such Change orders are often very useful and have a positive impact on the project. They are paid by the Owner, and formally accepted by the Contractor, by signing off a Change Order Form. As a result, the changes affecting the said project are measurable and logged so that the changes are quantifiable. What if the Owner keeps on requesting Chang Orders? Such a behavior will result in potential loss of time, money, productivity, and altogether, the Cumulative impact will deeply change the project. As a result, a good assessment of the cumulative impact will be a clear success factor on a project life.

Cumulative impacts assessment and management should be a key point of concern in the construction industry. A cumulative impact is an effect resulting from successive actions on a project when added to other existing, or planned ones. It is a real challenge in the construction industry to have these potential cumulative impacts assessed, and mitigated when possible. Before requesting too many change order, an Owner has to assess the potential consequences of it, as for the project and for the Contractor. But when assessing those, he must not forget to take into account the previous nor future change orders he has or will request, if he wants to have a glimpse of the bigger picture, and have a chance to control the ripple effect he is initiating.

There are several questions this paper will try to find the answer to:

1)     Are the consequences of cumulative impact foreseeable?

2)     How can we assess them? What can the Owner or the Contractor do in order to avoid or limit the impact of change orders and their potential cumulative impact?

The answer to those questions is critical to maintain a good high-level assessment of the risks and maintain a good project health. Maybe those impacts are going to be small so that dealing with them would be too painful to be worth it. Maybe we will find a way to make project change order so that there is an overall positive cumulative impact. This paper aims at providing a clear understanding of the objectives and challenges the parties involved in a construction project face, and provide a concrete way of dealing with cumulative impacts.


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected]

About the Author

Victor Labrousse

SKEMA Business School
Lille, France



Victor Labrousse is a MSc student in SKEMA Business School, major in Project and Programme Management & Business Development (PPMBD). He has a strong background mainly in Business development and in Project Management. In 2016, He has worked eight months for Sony Professional Solutions Europe in England as a Process and Project Manager Assistant. Sony PSE is the leading supplier of AV/IT solutions to businesses across a wide variety of sectors. He has project management and business development background. He is currently in his final year and lives in Lille, France. He can be contacted using his personal and school mail address; [email protected] and [email protected].

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/victor-labrousse-b75637116/