Construction industry must learn to collaborate now or it will never see the benefits

09 Oct 2017 | 12:17 pm | 2 min. read

According to a new report by international law firm Pinsent Masons, the construction industry is at risk of never seeing the benefits of collaboration if it doesn't commit to change now.

'Collaborative Construction: Now or Never?' is the firm's second report looking at collaboration, where experts state that a structured approach to collaborative working must be put in place now if the industry is to prosper and achieve the improvements that it so desperately seeks.

Nigel Blundell, Partner and construction expert at Pinsent Masons said: "In many ways the construction industry is its own worst enemy; it appears to be convinced of the need for change if it is to survive and prosper, yet there is an inertia and deep-seated reluctance to change established methods of procurement, working practices and to embrace new technologies.

"We make a number of recommendations in this report but it is vital that the whole industry including clients, the supply chain and Government make an absolute commitment to shift culture and work together for success. It is essential for the industry to recognise that there will be initial costs to collaboration but we must see the bigger picture and recognise the great benefits that will come." 

Key recommendations include:

  • The industry must contract for collaborative success and move on from the blame-driven culture with penalties for failure. There should be equitable sharing of risks, and fair incentivisation for clients and the supply chain.
  • For a team to be truly successful trust is vital; clients and project sponsors must demonstrate a comprehensive appreciation of team dynamics, especially in relation to blame and accountability. To help encourage effective working an independent person to coach a team through challenging issues should be appointed. 
  • There should be an industry wide body that leads, has close links to Government and the ability to speak with one voice. The Construction Leadership Council is in the best place to do this and for it to be truly effective it should demonstrate greater democracy in the election of its members, and it should be diverse and pan industry.
  • Quantify and publicise the cost savings accruing from BIM, which will assist in its wider adoption.
  • Greater investment should be made in Centres of Excellence to collate all the evidence to show collaboration works. This will then demonstrate the value of new techniques, construction methods and technology, providing industry with greater awareness and confidence in the benefits.

Mark Farmer, Founding Director & CEO of Cast Real Estate & Construction Consultancy, added: "Pinsent Masons’ second report is a helpful addition to the increasing number of calls for the industry to modernise. The construction industry urgently needs to change and my 2016 review of the industry set this out as a stark call to ‘Modernise or Die’. Although I proposed that a fundamental change in the physical onsite delivery model needs to be at the heart of industry transformation, to make this work, we also need to re-integrate traditionally fragmented project organisational models and use technology as a key enabler. 

“What we now need is strong tripartite integrated leadership between clients, Government and the industry to urgently move this discussion on towards reality. It is important to recognise that we no longer have a choice if we want to safeguard construction’s future."

With the assistance of over 30 industry experts working in groups and moderated by members of the Pinsent Masons team, the report examines key themes identified in the responses to the firm's inaugural report 'Collaborative Construction – More Myth than Reality?' published in June 2016. 

This second report represents a more detailed analysis of those key themes and the issues which we consider are at the very heart of the industry’s apparent reluctance to embrace collaborative working principles and techniques on a day to day basis. The report focuses on effective team working, industry leadership, contractual structures and changing risk profiles, supply chain involvement, and BIM and its impact on procurement. 

Download the full report 

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