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Collaboration can help avoid construction project failures, says expert

Out-Law News | 22 Apr 2015 | 3:53 pm | 1 min. read

Problems with construction projects can be anticipated or resolved with better collaboration between project managers and contractors, an expert has said.

Construction industry expert Chris Hallam of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, was commenting after a KPMG study (36-page / 2.77MB PDF) found shortcomings in the relationship between businesses running construction projects and their contractors. 

KPMG surveyed 109 senior leaders, including chief executives, at organisations carrying out "significant capital construction projects". More than half of respondents (53%) said their organisation had "suffered one or more underperforming projects in the previous financial year", with a greater rate of problems highlighted in the energy and natural resources (71%) and public sectors (90%). 

The study revealed that just 32% of construction projects have a high level of trust in contractors, although 82% of respondents said they expect there to be greater collaboration between project owners and contractors over the next five years. 

Hallam said: "Of course, it is easy to pin the blame on underperformance at the feet of contractors and a lack of collaboration, but collaboration works both ways and employers need to do their bit, which should entail their active engagement in the construction process and a constructive approach to dealing with problems as and when they arise." 

"All too often, problems are met with finger pointing and the adversarial blame game. The more enlightened contractors and employers actively engage with each other to spend their time trying to solve those problems, rather than working out how to blame the other side for it," he said. 

Hallam said he agreed with Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG, who said new technology can help address the issue of "poor performing contracts". 

"As Richard Threlfall points out, the industry needs greater degree of early contractor involvement on projects, a more collaborative approach from all sides and a real commitment to staff training and development and the use of emerging technologies and methods such as building information modelling (BIM)," Hallam said. 

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