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What are the six Ps?

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A look at the six Ps in more detail.

1 Purpose

This is where you, as the client, plays a hugely important strategic role. It’s where you spell out the purpose of the project and how you want it to meet your specific needs and the outcomes that will add value to your organisation. Its importance cannot be overstated as time and again construction consultants and contractors report that most of their clients don’t really know what outcomes they want from a proposed building.

It is essential that you articulate as clearly and unambiguously as possible the value and quality aspirations you are seeking from the project and communicate that to the other participants in the proposed project. This can be encapsulated in what’s called The Brief. This will be based on your values, vision, objectives and sets out the purpose of the proposed project. In formulating The Brief, an enlightened client seeks to maximise the opportunities presented by the project but also recognising the constraints such as the budget and the time needed for design and construction.


2 People & Leadership

We include People, because they are at the heart of building and the built environment. Buildings are built for people. And all buildings are designed and constructed by people and there are many people and organisations involved in the commissioning, design, construction, use, reuse and recycling of a building.

And don’t underestimate the importance of behaviour. It is impossible to design or construct anything without close collaboration between your own Internal Team and your External Team of designers and constructors.

People give of their best when they feel valued and trusted so treat the participants in your project as you would like to be treated. As a leader you play a pivotal role in setting the tone and culture within your project team. The way in which you go about conducting your project can have a profound effect on how the participants relate to you, to each other and the extent they focus on successful project delivery.


3 Procurement

Selecting the right people to design and construct your new building is a vital part of your role as a client. Your organisation’s needs and the purpose of the new facility needs to be at the heart of your thinking in the selection and appointment of external your consultants and contractors. Your vision and purpose for the project needs to be shared with, and clearly understood by those putting themselves forward to undertake the work.

Better project outcomes are achieved by engaging consultants and contractors with the appropriate technical knowledge, customer focus and collaborative behaviours and placing them alongside the relevant people from within your own Internal Team.

Key elements of procurement strategy should include equitable risk allocation, effective win-win contracting arrangements and (where applicable) longer term contracting models and frameworks.

There is much guidance available on the procurement of construction products and services, including publications from Constructing Excellence South West.

A good starting point is their Outcome-Led Procurement: A common sense guide to construction procurement.

Another really useful publication is the chapter on Collaborative Procurement in Clients’ Commitments: Best Practice Guide.

Another general helpful guide is The Construction Playbook.


4 Product Design

It is common sense that buildings, as our end product, have a massive impact on their users. How they live, work, learn, feel and behave. As well as designing for the present, enlightened clients bear in mind that buildings have long life expectancies and therefore attention needs to be paid to the maintenance and the flexibility and adaptability of any new facility in order to accommodate future changes.

Other than for the very smallest projects, the design of a proposed building will generally involve a number of different designers and other consultants. This reflects the complexity of buildings and their component parts, rising building standards, and increasing demands from clients. It is common for a consultant to be appointed on a project as the lead designer who then in turn appoints other consultants who will undertake parts of the work.

Building design will be defined in the design brief which will include project outcomes and value statements together with your important design quality attributes.

“As a headteacher, I’m clearly not a design professional but I was involved with the design team, contributing my ideas on it could support our ethos, and in the detail too, such as size and quality of teaching spaces, common parts and how students and staff would move around the building.”

5 Process Execution

The design of your building will be an iterative rather than a linear process, where, at each iteration there are inputs, there is a design process and then there are design outputs. At the end of each iteration the outputs need to be reviewed and then the process begins again. Typically, this is structured by establishing a series of ‘gateways’, at which you the client can assess the state of development of the project and consider whether it satisfies your strategic objectives, that it is affordable, that quality and value is being delivered, and that the risks are acceptable.

This control process has been refined by new processes such as building information modelling (BIM), which identifies explicitly the decisions and design information accumulated at each stage of the project. This ensures that appropriate information is created and shared in a suitable format at the right time so that better decisions can be made.

Increasingly the design also involves main and specialist contractors and component manufacturers: in the first instance to contribute to the design and subsequently to carry out the works on site and to supply goods and services. The selection of the most appropriate lead designer and in turn their selection of other consultants is critical in achieving your requirements for quality and value and is compliant with statutory regulations.

Following design, the construction phase is when your new building is produced. The complexity of modern buildings and their unique interaction with your specific site means that issues will arise even at this stage and will have to be rapidly resolved. Some will require you as the client to make decisions. It’s important that any decisions taken do not undermine your mandate for quality and value.

Assurance in achieveing these requirements can be provided by independent oversight including from site visits and supervision by designers, clerk of works, building control bodies and specialist inspection authorities.

The construction stage leads into the commissioning stage where time must be set aside to test and fine-tune the building systems, particularly its environmental control systems.


6 Performance Evaluation

The final P is the post-completion reviews of  performance of the new building as it comes into use over time and the performance of design and construction process. This provides the opportunity for the project team to consider the extent to which the purpose of the project has been fulfilled and its objectives met. Has it been completed to the required functionality and quality? Is the building adding the value that you envisaged for the project and your organisation back at the beginning of the process?

In the review of the process you may wish to look at health and safety, achievement of quality, programme and budget.

As an enlightened client it’s also important to review the experiences of all the project participants. Did the designers and constructors make a fair margin from their endeavours for you? Have their reputations been enhanced?

It’s important that the lessons are learnt and taken forward to subsequent projects, not just for you the client but all the project participants. But beyond that, CESW encourages clients and their project partners to share their experiences and best practice with other construction clients and designers and constructors.


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