When we are busy, our mental health is put on the back burner. This is partly due to mental health’s supposed imperceptible nature. The construction industry has always presented one of the busiest and most dynamic work environments from project initiation to project completion.
All facets of the industry’s complex system have massive challenges as industry professionals and other stakeholders battle to ensure key performance indicators are delivered, whether time, cost or quality.
Unfortunately, mental health issues feed on our inability to keep an eye on our personal wellbeing. Most people are first drawn to the concept of their mental health during some form of crisis or deterioration. Understandably, friends, family and loved ones will jump at the opportunity to offer support in times of crisis.
They can only offer this support when there are visible signs of distress and this is where mental health presents the biggest challenge. Poor mental health does not show many explicit symptoms and is even more invisible when people are preoccupied especially during busy periods at work.
Construction employees (whether based in the office or on site) spend a considerable amount of time at work and this is where they are also put under immense pressure. As such, the workplace offers an opportunity for us to support one another. More importantly, the work environment offers an opportunity for our attention to be drawn to some of the least explicit symptoms of poor mental health e.g. presenteeism.
Constructing Excellence in collaboration with our partners have thus initiated a process of supporting the industry’s stakeholders particularly on the matter of improving mental health. We present this ‘how-to-guide’ to help all in the supply chain and at all levels.
This includes prompting us of some of the subtle tell-tale signs of deteriorating mental health. We believe everyone in the industry should have equal access to mental support and as such we implore all employers (large, medium, small and micro) to spare no expense in protecting their most valuable asset; PEOPLE.
Introduction by Emmanuel Aboagye-Nimo.
Alan Tate has been awarded Lifetime Membership of CESW in honor of his many years of wonderful work and support of CESW.
Below are just a few of the congratulations from colleagues.
“Justly deserved! I have served alongside Alan at CESW and he has been unremittingly amazing. His professionalism aligned with his sense of humour made working with him a pleasure” Emma Osmundsen
“Congratulations and many thanks Alan for all your sterling work for CESW” Martyn Jones
“Heartiest congratulations Alan from us all” The CESW Management Team
A thought leadership piece by Martyn Jones
A long-standing and fundamental weakness of our industry is its deliberate separation of design and construction. This has adversely affected our processes and culture since the emergence of the General Contractor approach to construction at the beginning of the 19 Century.
During the past 150 years or so we have been trying to stitch these two functions back together again through a range of procurement routes including Design and Build, Prime Contracting, the two main Management Approaches, and more collaborative approaches such as Partnering and SCM, but without achieving much in the way of universal success.
CESW’s Procurement and Productivity Theme Group provides us with thought leadership on the effectiveness of different procurement options in reconciling Purpose and Profit, including the very commonly used Design and Build. But, as set out in our guide, Outcome Led Procurement: A common sense approach to construction procurement, design and construction are rarely seamless in Design and Build.
As explained in the guide, when tendering, contractors are rarely given the opportunity to understand the design as it exists at that time (usually incomplete and poorly coordinated). Only after selection can the contractor justify spending the necessary time to fully understand the design and how it will function, plan how it can be constructed and creatively engage with the appropriate specialist contractors and suppliers.
But hang on, by this stage the contractor will have committed to a price to complete the project. Not surprisingly, price will then be a major factor in how the main contractors select the specialist and trade contractors and suppliers as their own margins will depend on a selection strategy that delivers the project for less than the price already quoted to the client.
In turn, the specialist and trade contractors have to price their inputs before they have an opportunity to fully understand what they are pricing and we end up in the situation where all the contractors don’t fully understand the client’s desired project outcomes or the risks involved and how they are priced and managed.
This results in the design and construction process becoming a battleground to safeguard profits and offload risks rather being a well-planned, supportive project environment with the purpose of adding value for the client and providing contractors with fair and appropriate profit for their efforts.
The Two Stage Open Book model offers an alternative approach that sees the client invite prospective team members for a single project or from a framework to bid for a project based on an outline brief and cost benchmark. A number of contractors and consultant teams compete for the contract in a first stage with bidders being chosen based on their capacity, capability, stability, experience, strength of their supply chain, and fee (profit plus company overhead).
In the second stage of the process, the successful contractor and consultant team are appointed to work up a proposal on the basis of an open book cost that meets or even exceeds the client’s stated desired outcomes and cost benchmark.
This Two-Stage Open Book approach provides the opportunity for clients to work earlier with a single integrated team, to interrogate design, cost and risk issues ahead of a start on site at the end of the second stage. This systematic approach to early contractor and specialist contractor engagement provides for more certainty in relation to design information, a more thorough identification and management of risk, and opens up opportunities for creativity and innovation.
As well an opportunity to build greater mutual understanding of both the design and the planning of the construction process, the second stage can also be used to create an environment and culture conducive to the application of the Constructing Excellence principles: Procuring for outcomes and value, increased standardisation and pre-manufactured content, digitally enabled and integrated teams working collaboratively with aligned commercial arrangements.
So, why aren’t more clients using this approach? One popular view amongst many clients and their advisers is that it’s more expensive than simply getting contractors to price for construction of the project through Single-Stage procurement. Yes, Single-Stage requires less input from clients and their consultant advisers and is “easier”, but no, it doesn’t follow that the resulting outturn construction cost will be higher in a Two-Stage approach especially in light of the uncertainties involved in the Single-Stage approach.
Find out what CESW have been working hard on this year.
Our 2020 Annual Review gives an overview of the year starting with reports from our Chair, Andrew Goodenough and our CEO, Andrew Carpenter.
Followed by updates from our Club Chairs, Theme Group Chairs, and Management Team.
Click HERE to read and download
2020, what a weird year! We started the year with a thriving economy, and the only cloud on the horizon was Brexit, those were the days! Since March the only thing on peoples’ minds has been Covid19, together with the impact of the pandemic.
The construction sector has been a shining light and I congratulate everyone for demonstrating our adaptability, safety culture and determination to get the job done!
We in CE have made great strides in 2020 and have embraced the Covid challenge by transforming our organisation into a digital entity, including our long awaited, Covid delayed awards! On Friday 4th December@ 1600 we are holding our 2020 awards on line, please register and join us for what will be a great event that will showcase Construction in the Southwest. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our sponsors and entrants for their support, hard work and patience!
Looking forward to 2021, thankfully there is optimism around a vaccine to counteract the pandemic and a return to normality. At this time Brexit is still a mystery to us all, some things never change! I sincerely hope that 2021 will be kind to us all in construction and the economic downturn experienced in 2020 is a blip that won’t materially impact our order books in the longer term.
May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and hard work in 2020, and wish you and your families a very happy and safe Christmas, and a prosperous and covid eliminating new year!
So here we all are again in lockdown. Thankfully, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, recognised the importance of the UK construction industry in his speech when introducing the latest set of rules and regulations. For our sites it is ‘business as usual’ with the rest of us confined to our homes again. I feel very confident however that thanks to the sterling work of the Construction Leadership Council once again the sector will prove how adept we are with dealing with a crisis and assist the nation through this period of uncertainty.
For CESW our works seems to grow and grow as the need for collaborative working increases with clients looking for innovative solutions to maintain their building programmes. Our work with Nottingham Trent University continues at pace and we will be unveiling the updated Clients’ Commitments Best Practice Guide at our Online Annual Conference & AGM on 25th November 2020 from 4.00pm – 5.30pm. Details of how to book may be found elsewhere within this newsletter.
Our regular Friday webinars continue, although there has been a slight downturn in viewers which is disappointing. Please do support our November and December webinars as we have an interesting line-up of speakers and topics including this coming Friday 13th November 2020 when Steve Clarke covers the all important issue of ‘getting more for less’ which never seems to go away and is particularly critical during these troubled times. Further topics include required skills for MMC, the Building Safety Bill and of course our eagerly awaited monthly ‘State of the Nation’ sessions.
We have added to our series of podcasts when I interviewed Suzannah Nicholl, Chief Executive of Build UK, so please do listen to that when you have a spare twenty minutes. It may be found by visiting: https://audioboom.com/posts/7719647-suzannah-nichol-mbe-chief-executive-of-build-uk
The big news since our last newsletter however is a complete turn around in terms of how we intend to run our 2020 Built Environment Awards by taking them online. The ceremony will take place on Friday 4th December at 4.00pm and we hope that all members and supporters will tune in to see who has been successful and help celebrate best practice across the region. As it’s taking place online and during the afternoon rather than make it a ‘black tie’ event we’ve decided to make it ‘loud & proud’ and would ask you to watch in your loudest shirts and ensure you use social media throughout the event to publicise both yourself and the event – let’s go viral! Details of how to book may be found elsewhere within this newsletter.
Finally, I am delighted to say that on 25th November 2020 we will be launching the eagerly awaited new web site so lots for which to look forward on the CESW front as we enter Winter 2020. I look forward to seeing you all online at both our Annual Conference and Awards Ceremony.
ANDREW CARPENTER, Chief Executive CE Midlands
A Thought Leadership piece by Martyn Jones.
Did the authors of the Rethinking Construction report, published in 1998, take sufficient account of the specificities of construction when advocating a Lean form of Supply Chain Management (LSCM)? Were the recommendations of the Egan Task Force based too much on the success of SCM in a resurgent, process-based UK automotive industry?
The members of the Egan Task force were greatly influenced by the radical changes and improvements seen in other industries, particularly the success of Lean Supply Chain Management (LSCM) in the automotive industry. This meant that the Lean form of Supply Chain Management came to dominate thinking in the procurement and management of construction supply chains.
The Egan report was both forthright in its criticism of the industry and radical in its proposals for change. At that time, it was the most explicit presentation of the key features of the emerging techno-economic paradigm to construction. Many in construction found it excitingly seductive too as it seemed to address our longstanding weaknesses and open up opportunities to improve our performance in relation to a range of outcomes including quality, productivity, and health and safety.
The focus was on greater customer focus and more collaborative inter-organisational relationships across our supply chains to achieve more profitable outcomes and competitive advantage for all parties in the chain. It prescribed the building of highly transparent, trusting and long-term relationships between buyers and suppliers to create a physically and socially efficient value chain through the reduction of waste in processes and/or an increase in responsiveness and greater collaboration in product delivery.
But here’s the question? Given the dominance of LSCM thinking, its success in other industries such as the automotive industry, and given the opinion of many in construction that it was a way to tackle many of construction’s weaknesses, why has it proven – with a few notable exceptions such as the supermarket building programmes of the 1990s and 2000s – to be so troublesome to implement and sustain in much of construction?
One of the reasons is that Egan’s report (and indeed the whole approach) is not without criticisms. It was seen by some as being too dominated by big organisations – particularly regular and experienced clients with large and frequent pipelines of demand for construction products and services. It was based on a LSCM approach that was more suited to process-based industries and without any discussion of the alternative – the Agile approach to Supply Chain Management – which could be seen as more appropriate for project-based construction.
So back in 1998, did Egan invite us to back the wrong horse in the SCM Stakes? Was there another more appropriate runner and rider in the paddock: The Agile approach to SCM (ASCM)? The proponents of this approach argue that LSCM only makes sense under certain circumstances: where demand is predictable, the requirement for variety is low, and volume is high. They argue that an alternative is needed in unpredictable, volatile, highly customised and low market volumes – as in the case in most of the construction market
As professor Martin Christopher argued back in 2000, “There are certain conditions where a Lean approach makes sense … the problems arise when we attempt to implant the philosophy into situations where demand is less predictable [and] requirements for variety is high …[As a result many] firms have been misguided in their attempts to adopt a lean model in conditions where it is not suited”.
Where demand is volatile and variable, as in much of construction, the elimination of waste is a lower priority than responding to the needs of dynamic markets. Such markets require innovative and market-responsive (or Agile) Supply Chain Management (ASCM) approaches supported by higher margins as shown in the following table.
An examination of the table suggests that at best, it is only those parts of the construction market where the nature of construction spend is regular and ongoing and the relationships between buyers and suppliers are continuous and long-term that are able to fully adopt and sustain LSCM. Where irregular customers require high quality, complex and highly customised products with high-information and value-adding content that require the mobilisation of scarce competencies and the synthesis of diverse technologies then agility is more appropriate.
Agile is also now being seen as more responsive to social and environmental issues, more accommodating of change and uncertainty, and intra- and inter-enterprise integration. Given the necessary tools and support, agile teams, sustained through regular intervals or pauses for fine-tuning of behaviours, can be trusted and empowered to creatively accomplish project goals.
So, what’s best for your supply chains? Lean or Agile? Lean techniques are designed to improve predictable or repeatable actions while Agile works better for innovation projects and original creativity, which are not so easy to manage in a repeatable way. This means that the choice of approach very much depends on the nature of your supply chains and more specifically the volume and frequency of your workflow.
For example, if you are making greater use of the offsite manufacture of standardised components and processes then a Lean approach may suit you best. If you are seeking creativity to tackle say carbon reduction, then an Agile approach may be more appropriate.
And it might not be a case of either/or. You might think about mobilising both Lean and Agile approaches in different parts of your development process and supply chains, with say Agile being dominant upstream to customers and Lean being applied downstream with key and frequently used specialist suppliers. This synergistic blend of Leaness and Agility has given rise to a new form of Supply Chain Management – Leagility.
What can we draw from this? The form of SCM used is very much dependent on context and that collaboration based on trust is essential to the success of Lean, Agile and Leagility approaches. Construction’s customers often procure more on the basis of cost rather than the capability of resources, whilst expecting their suppliers to operate with agility but on lean margins.
The UK Government has announced new English developments will be required to demonstrate a 10% increase in biodiversity on or near development sites from 2021.
Nottingham Trent University is working on an ERDF funded “BIM for Biodiversity Net Gains” project.
Based on the Biodiversity Metric 2.0 Beta, we are developing a Building Information Model (BIM) toolkit and case study measuring and visualising options for biodiversity losses and gains.
We would like businesses from across the construction sector to complete a short research survey – https://forms.gle/mEbquXf5STyUVu9T8.
Results of the survey will be discussed with an industry focus group.
There will be a MS TEAMS focus group meeting 10am-11am on the 26th November 2020 to discuss the survey results.
Dr Yangang Xing (Yan), BSc, MSc, PhD, MCIBSE, FHEA
Senior Lecturer (Construction Technology and Building Engineering Services)
School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Suzannah Nichol MBE chats to Andrew Carpenter about the moment the idea of working in the construction came to her, setting up Build UK, her love for outdoor activities, achieving her MBE honours and how the industry has handled the Coronavirus pandemic.
CLICK HERE to listen now
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