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Presidents’ Column: November 2017

November 9, 2017 by NSC in News
In my column last month, I referred to Lord Adonis’ dismissal of fears over low industry margins. Thankfully, he’s now admitted that the industry should make ‘a good living’, but for this to happen budgets need to be released. This would be a win-win for government and industry because, as we all know, every pound spent on infrastructure delivers a whopping £2.78 back to the economy.

However, to maximise the benefits of increased government spending on infrastructure, the supply chain needs to work more effectively as a whole.It’s a well-known fact that collaboration and early involvement are by far the best vehicles to reduce project risk, protect margins and ensure on time, in full delivery.

Pinsent Masons’ June 2106 paper ‘Collaborative Construction – More Myth than Reality’ notes that there is a lack of strong leadership with few prepared to commit to real change. I’m now seeing more advocating real change but we need commitment and action, rather than ‘We just ran out of time let’s do it the old way’!

Experience tells us that specifiers and main contractors that collaborate with their supply chain have a major competitive advantage, and are better able to balance the delivery of client needs against programme and cost. Specifically, involving subcontractors early enables them to contribute to buildability, project planning and cost. Early engagement also ensures that the design team releases information in a form and sequence that coordinates with the steelwork package. Design gaps and clashes will be picked up earlier as well, reducing the need for change requests and redesign, which in a commercial environment can cause delays and disputes.

Early involvement with subcontractors also establishes trust and mutual respect – something that is sometimes in short supply in the construction supply chain. Moving away from a combative approach to a collaborative one will also improve financial flows throughout the whole supply chain, protecting that economic value I mentioned earlier.

There really isn’t anything not to like about early engagement and collaboration, but it will require behavioural change and a whole lot of trust from all of us.

Tim Outteridge
BCSA President & Sales Director Cleveland Bridge

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