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August Overview – Mark Lyddon

The summer holiday season may be upon us but there is no let up in the challenges and pressures our colleagues, business and industry are facing.  Holidays are hopefully a time to relax, recharge and reflect.  Recent times have presented a relentless set of issues and it is my belief that they can only be overcome through collaboration and connecting.  The importance of our Constructing Excellence community joining together to support our people and businesses (suppliers and clients) is needed more now than ever before.

The journey to Net Zero will only be solved through deep collaboration of all tiers across policy makers, regulators, supply chains and clients.  We need to understand the inputs and outputs of every party, with opportunities to innovate and provide tangible alternative lower and no carbon options, in part by being more efficient and reducing / eliminating waste – embracing digital will be key to succeeding in this area.  Additionally creating effective incentivization models which reward innovation, productivity and sustainability not just cost.

Inflation pressures, in part caused by the Ukraine Crisis, needs to be tackled by clients and suppliers alike regardless of the stage of projects – (i) investment strategy stage to reappraise Business Cases, update risk and mitigation measures, understanding costing assumptions and caveats; (ii) Pre-contract stage to consider early purchasing, mapping supply chain requirements, considering alternative materials, adapting commercial models and incentivization, scenario testing; (iii) Post contract stage to understand contract terms, enhance supplier assurance, consider early payment for off-site materials, prepare for additional payment claims.  Whether it is pressures caused by inflation or recession conditions, engagement with, and understanding of, suppliers is important for successful delivery outcomes.

Skills and resource gaps are now increasingly prevalent – as an industry we need to connect and collaborate to support training centres of all types and constantly work to improve our industries brand and attractiveness.   As all sectors of the economy return to growth, even with recessionary warnings, and demand out-strips supply, competition for resource is intensifying.  We must therefore also continue to drive efficiencies through Modern Methods of Construction, embracing new technologies and innovation, including digitisation and automation, which will in turn attract new, diverse talent into our industry.  Opportunities therefore exist to work more closely to map the resource needed across suppliers and clients to right size the investment in training and developing new / existing resources and aligning more closely with educational bodies to provide a new and potentially untapped resource pools.  Colleague wellbeing is rightly a focus for us all, with challenges around balancing flexible working, workload management and general retention factors.

Early this year the CBI published their “Programmes with purpose” report [12703_major-projects_programme-perfection-report_ie.pdf (cbi.org.uk)], which although is focused on “programmes” it is relevant to all that we are involved in and I would encourage you to refer to it.  The report covers the key themes of (a) improving project delivery (i) getting the basics right, (ii) driving efficiencies, (iii) delivering innovation and digital transformation, (iv) skills (b) Tackling the big picture (i) protecting the planet for future generations, (ii) harnessing spend to level up, (iii) leveraging for exportable goods, services and expertise.

Across all our challenges I am convinced that collaboration and connection across clients and all tiers of suppliers and educational organisations will unlock innovation, unlock the opportunities being brought by digital and attract the diverse talent we need to succeed.

We’d welcome your insights and measures you are implementing to solve and mitigate these challenges so we can share with our Constructing Excellence community.

We wish you a collaborative, safe and productive summer.

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