There's a big issue with output in construction - productivity is poor, waste is high, engagement is low. These are things that have been known before but officially raised since the Egan Report Rethinking Construction in 1998!
20 years on, whilst there's improvement in a lot of areas, there is still a big mountain to climb, because the world is still changing. How can we become more productive in project delivery and just be better? There's multitude of things, but since '3 is the magic' number to start with, I'll list my top three. Feel free to add your own...
Accountability and the Competent Contractor, Competent Project Team
As competent Contractors, or just people doing what we're supposed to be good at, 'professionals,' we could be doing more at earlier stages of a project when information comes in. We have a responsibility to not hide behind what the client team hasn't necessarily provided, but to point them in the direction of what you would expect to see or need to give them a good service. At the same end, there needs to be more quality at an earlier stage from the Employer's Project Team. When a project goes out to tender, to get compliant bids back with minimal questions on information provided, all the risks and issues could be identified by the Employer's team in an open way so that everyone is on the same page and pricing in the same manner and the Project can get to where it needs to be in a much shorter timescale. Can this really be achieved with Traditional approaches to procurement? Probably not - in which case, isn't it time we looked at a different approach? Something to discuss another day...
Go Mobile, work with the tools of Today.
The youth are coming and they're looking at our industry thinking 'what are you doing?' or maybe worse 'why aren't you doing this?' How are we going to get new people into building with the old 'we've always done it this way' approach? Pull the needle off the record - let's just isolate that phrase for a second because it is just absurd:
'We've always done it this way' - basically means; you've never looked to improve, never looked to find a better way, never tried anything different, been too afraid to fail, not aspired to be better. So sad and if you want to counter that with the phrase 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,' it's already broken - it's been broken since before 1998.
We need to be designing in-house apps and software to work in the mobile environment. The aging workforce and tools of the past such as Excel, Powerpoint, Word etc are being replaced with in-house custom built apps and cloud based platforms such as CostX, GenieBelt, ShapeDo etc enabling site workers and office staff to spend more time on keeping ahead of the programme, not getting bogged down in filling out forms and slow process. The records are important, but they shouldn't take up all of everyone's time. Getting these integrated and people on board with a slight change to the way you record information can make us leaner in how we do things whilst also improving the quality and transparency of the information entered. Free people up to do what they really want to be doing.
Change the Old Tired Site Office Layout.
The use of mobile platforms, as engagement increases, will mean the traditional site set up will also need to change. When we get to site, we need people to be comfortable in the environment. Rather than siloed cabins where people sit at desks all day in front of laptops, we might have Apple Store style counters with tablet stations that anyone can plug in and log into, charging points for phones and break out areas for meetings or socialising. Bin the drawing rack and instead, have large touch screens with access to the CDE to download and annotate the latest 3D models. In this environment, there will be more emphasis on Planning the work in advance and proactively managing change, rather than reacting to problems or issues as they occur and hiding the information. Project performance and health will be in full view of every stakeholder and be accessible at any time.
Maybe I'm dreaming, but when you look at some of the environments people work in currently on sites, it is no wonder there is a lack of motivation to do, well, anything to the best of their ability at times. Something very simple and relatively low cost to achieve, could yield a far more engaged, willing team and therefore unlock higher quality in delivery. Dreams can come true, look at Elon Musk and his rockets - you have to start somewhere.
These are just three points raised in a topic that is wide and expanding - much like the universe. Change continues to challenge, we need to meet the challenge in our industry. Everyone needs to step up.