Construction Value Toolkit Is a Wake Up Call For All
After a decade of disruption, the construction industry has become used to planning in the short term. So it should come as no surprise built environment professionals are constantly looking for ways to minimise cost and create efficiencies, where possible, to deliver a smooth construction journey and maximum ROI.
However, while cost, time and quality are vital criteria, they are not the only ways in which long-term value can, or should, be measured.
Further, important, but less obvious objectives, particularly around safety, sustainability and long-term viability are often overlooked, with the potential to negatively impact the client and end-user. Ultimately, it means projects don’t realise their full potential, systematically ‘devaluing’ it. It’s a completely avoidable situation.
That’s why the Construction Innovation Hub has created the ‘Value Toolkit’: an initiative which looks to change the way the sector thinks about, and measures, value.
by Tom Boland is Global Head of Digitalisation at Zutec
It offers a richer definition, beyond the design and construction phase, addressing the whole life of the development to understand its overall worth. From a civil engineering perspective, this might be incorporating the latest SUDS to better manage surface water run-off from urban environments, as standard. This immediately increases the ‘green’ value of the project, by delivering efficient drainage and rainwater harvesting for agricultural or domestic use.
Currently in its pilot phase, the Toolkit will help deliver more cohesive and intelligent value-based decisions across the design and construction journey. It’s a welcome, and long awaited framework, helping everyone across construction work better.
There is still some way to go toward achieving the objectives set out by the Toolkit. However, I feel technology holds the key to success.
Construction faces myriad challenges, from a lack of organisational memory and siloed work environments to an adversarial, low-margin culture.
This manifests as a counter-productive, professional single-mindedness and has led to a self-serving situation, where each party works according to their own agenda and objectives. It’s created stagnating insularity, where collaboration should exist, obscuring the bigger picture and overall value of their work.
Sluggish digital adoption is also hampering progress. Many companies still adhere to traditional practices, hindering progress and leaving room for error. It inherently limits the scope of delivering real ‘value’.
One such example is the persistence of physical record-keeping and the use of outmoded software such as Microsoft Excel and Dropbox, both unsustainable and unfit for purpose.
The value in the Value Toolkit
The industry needs to change its approach to one that supports informed decision-making, allowing it to innovate towards a value system driven by more than profit.
The new Construction Playbook emphasises a broader approach to project valuation by continuously forecasting and measuring whole-life value performance. The Value Toolkit directly supports these objectives and offers a way to realise them.
Further, it means engineers will soon be able to maximise value and address the skills and training needed to deliver better social, environmental and economic results.
Technology as an enabler
Using digital tools will accelerate and amplify this process of enlightenment, helping engineers harness data and assess project value from the design stage right through to the handover and beyond.
Delivering uncompromising end-user safety is a good example. With the use of Quality Management modules, such as the one offered by Zutec, field engineering teams working on projects can maintain compliance with construction quality specifications. Additionally, digitised QA/QC processes and snagging and defect management tools allow staff to work and collaborate via their mobile devices and customise inspections processes.
As well as making the construction journey more efficient, it also legally protects the practice and helps to accurately guarantee the safest possible environment for the end-user.
Transforming the industry
The Value Toolkit is a seismic shift which will move the sector from being cost-focused to value-driven, all to society’s benefit. It’s set to drive a new culture of professionalism.
Those who use the Toolkit, particularly in conjunction with digital solutions, will be able to better understand the value of their projects, giving them a significant competitive advantage
It’s an industrywide wake-up call, civil engineers included. Ultimately, practices without a digital transformation strategy or innovation plan will be left behind in an evolving marketplace.
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