Guardians of value performance
The UK infrastructure sector has experienced substantial successes in recent years. In light of this, the sector must now focus on performance and value.
What’s happening in UK infrastructure?
The UK is considered a leading market for global investment as it has a mature approach to major projects and a track record for success through strong delivery models and contractor strategies. The Infrastructure UK Routemap was a good example of this and it has created a lot of international interest.
What are the key issues facing the sector and what actions should be taken?
Despite its achievements, our industry faces some major challenges which include inconsistent performance and traditional delivery models that are too unpredictable and contain too much risk for investors. There are also well known skills shortages in the supply chain.
We need to work with industry to further develop the Infrastructure UK Routemap and promote this as the industry standard for major projects. Exceptional performance needs to be created through collaboration. We need to invest in new industry business models and identify how to bring these into the market.
In order to succeed, we also need new talent to properly lead major programmes and to deliver new business models. These measures will encourage investment.
What skills are needed?
We need professional with better commercial skills and the ability to define benefits and a plan on how best to realise them. Improved predictive models have data at their core and we need new skills to understand them. We need to believe that collaboration is the only route to exceptional performance. Skills to harness technology mean we can avoid manual interventions and measurements and allow us to look at manufacturing skills and alternative technical solutions, such as robotics and modularisation.
We need to believe that collaboration is the only route to exceptional performance."
What role do commercial managers play in successfully delivering infrastructure?
New business models will be based on risks/rewards. They’ll be performance-driven and will emphasise sharing and adopting new techniques.
Commercial managers shouldn’t just follow traditional functions that need to be automated such as measurers or estimators. They have the opportunity to become the designers and managers of contracting strategies that incentivise performance and have an important role in translating the language of business into project language.
They should become value and performance managers (encompassing commercial and contractual issues), predictive modellers (from the business case through to outcomes) and the integrators of cost and schedules. They also should manage the competing requirements from all stakeholders.
RICS professionals who already focus on performance and value have made great career strides in the construction and infrastructure sectors. These skills are in our commercial DNA.
Article first published in RICS’ Leaders in Infrastructure publication, January 2017