The way we work: cost management's digital transformation

Paul Connolly

Managing Director, Real Estate Cost Management, UK

UK

As the construction industry adapts to COVID-19’s perfect storm of change – with its challenges and threats – two things are already apparent. Clients are rightly demanding continuous improvement and the supply chain must respond by ramping up its adoption of digital and collaborative working.

Beginning our digital transformation programme in 2018, we have invested over £5m in structured data technology, training and capability – building a powerful suite of bespoke tools that link to a centralised platform called the Hive.

The digital cost management tools contained in the Hive give our clients real-time access to a rich stream of data about every aspect of their programmes and are already driving greater contractor productivity, boosting client certainty and delivering better outcomes.

All of our 400-strong UK team now have access to a secure, searchable information and knowledge hub which enables them to think and work fully digitally, interrogate all the necessary data and make intelligence-led decisions at every stage of the construction lifecycle.

For example, our benchmarking and market rates apps provide robust cost data, which our cost managers have used to help clients develop successful business cases and pilot projects smoothly, throughout the planning and tendering processes.

Of course, such technology is an enabler, rather than an end in itself. Clients also need to commit to it and, for the structured data to deliver its full potential, a cultural shift in the industry needs to accompany the technological one.

Our diverse range of tools have one thing in common. They all rely on a constant flow of accurate, live data and skilled cost managers able to turn their outputs into clear, actionable advice.

This combination of precision intelligence and human expertise can be used to tackle the full range of challenges clients may face during a complex capital investment programme.

Starting strong: cost planning

We asked some of our team to spotlight a few of these challenges and how they help clients tackle them.

Understanding how prices may change during the project

Associate Director Kris Hudson uses the full power of our global reservoir of market data to help clients understand how pricing trends and the capacity of local supply chains affect costs throughout the project lifecycle.

His team has built a tool which layers together macroeconomic trends, benchmark cost data and COVID-19 outbreak statistics – to accurately estimate cost impacts across a client’s project portfolio. 

Procuring with precision

Associate Director Rachael Walker helps clients procure their projects seamlessly with the aid of eTender, our cloud-based tender management platform.

eTender distils years of best practice into a clear and intuitive client interface, making it easy to create, manage and evaluate each tender – while recording all the details to ensure consistency and transparency.

Keeping on track

Digital technology can also protect a client’s interests, by serving as their eyes and ears.

Tools like HoloBuilder, a 360-degree photo capture system, give clients real-time visual updates on project progress. Director Chris Quick and his team are able to compare this data against a project’s BIM model to give clients a clear understanding of how well the schedule and key milestones are being adhered to.

The key learning from our teams is that digital technology is a force multiplier, rather than an end in itself. It provides the greatest, most lasting benefit when it is coupled with the behavioural shift to more collaborative working between customers, project teams and the supply chain.

Collaboration + digital = better client outcomes.

For further information contact:

Paul Connolly
Managing Director, Real Estate Cost Management, UK

t: +44 (0)20 7544 4000
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