Construction’s productivity challenge – key insights

20 Dec 21

GIRI members gathered together in November for the first time in almost two years to address construction’s productivity challenge, with a line-up of speakers considering the issue from various angles. This is what we learned.

The productivity challenge is greater than predicted

The initial GIRI research looked at the consequences of error, said ICE President and GIRI Strategic Leadership Group member Ed McCann in a presentation discussing a project for HS2 focusing on productivity improvement. He pointed out that what happens before errors occur is fundamental to productivity, and that the anticipation of error can result in projects being overdesigned to compensate.

Read more from Ed McCann.

Error prevention is an investment not a cost

“Prevention is always better than cure,” said David Anderson from BAM Nuttall as he discussed the value of error-prevention strategies and shared a case study demonstrating almost £1 million in cost savings. However, he also pointed out that preventing errors is not just about saving money. “We’re talking about effectiveness, productivity, safety, carbon reduction, and sustainability – that’s actually what comes out of error reduction.”

Find out more about BAM Nuttall's error-prevention strategy.

Declining resilience is a long-term threat to the industry

The pressures of Covid and Brexit have exposed and exacerbated long-standing issues within the industry and these are only going to get worse, said Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy as he argued that there is an urgent need both to increase productivity and address the need for improvement in technical competence and skills. As workforce pressures continue to grow, and net zero targets add a new level of complexity, increasing the percentage of pre-manufactured value can help de-risk projects.

Read the report on Mark's presentation.

A strategic approach to data can improve long-term outcomes

More evidence-driven design and an end-to-end focus, backed up and enabled by a good data strategy, will create greater lifetime value and mitigate risk, said Tom Collins from Hoare Lea. He added that a good data structure enables better collaboration right through the supply chain.

Read more from Tom.

It’s time to change how we handle procurement

Lowest-cost procurement is holding the industry back and it is time for a transactional approach to give away to more strategic, capability-based procurement, said panellists during the Q&A session. The industry needs greater focus on collaboration, not just between teams and project phases but more broadly across the industry in order to move forward together and improve productivity.

Read the report on the panel discussion.

This is about so much more than productivity

A lot has changed since GIRI was founded back in 2015, said Cliff Smith as he closed the meeting. Grenfell, Brexit, Covid, and the worsening climate crisis have all added to the external pressures on the sector while digital transformation and modern methods of construction are changing construction from within. However, GIRI’s core message is as relevant as ever. “‘Get it right, don’t put it right’ remains the GIRI mantra, because by doing so you will not only improve productivity, but you will also reap all the related benefits of a zero-error culture,” said Cliff.

Read Cliff's closing statement.


Check our events calendar for future members' meeting dates.

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