Collaboration in the construction industry has been a hot topic in recent years, for a number of reasons.
The sector is well known for being fragmented. It is project based, focussed on getting the job done and moving as swiftly as possible to the next.
Construction projects bring together a broad set of complex skills. They are characterised by multiple stakeholders, large, widely dispersed supply chains and large delivery teams of architects, designers, engineers and contractors who will often be working together for the first time.
It is also an industry, which has historically been adversarial in its operation, with a focus on blame allocation in the face of delays or cost overruns, and on risk transfer and claims. However, not only can a failure to work effectively as one team with one common goal have serious consequences, putting at risk the efficient delivery of schemes.
It can also mean that innovation and best practice take longer to become embedded across the industry.
Furthermore, 21% of all construction costs are thought to come from waste – which could be reduced by improving collaboration, resulting in a significant saving, which can be passed onto the client.
In our experience, increasing collaboration can lead to better project outcomes, the more efficient delivery of schemes, improved business performance and greater client satisfaction. It creates a culture that drives innovation and improved solutions to the unexpected challenges that inevitably arise during every scheme. Collaboration can then have a significant impact on the success of a scheme and has the potential to increase the sector’s historically low productivity
There are also other motivating factors for improving collaboration, including lean construction and the importance of sustainability. New technologies such as virtual and augmented reality offer the opportunity to improve communication and collaboration between the various parties delivering schemes and between the contractor and the client.
Digital processes are also having a significant impact, making it easier for the different parties to work effectively together to the same end goal. Teamed with high-speed Internet and mobile technology, they can offer transparency and improve seamless working based around a common dataset.