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New industry standard can leave everyone a winner

A new industry standard – BS 11000 – has loomed into view and it is one that could lead to genuine change.

Industry standards are not always the most fascinating of topics – indeed, I may have already lost half my audience – but this is one standard that really could have a substantial and positive impact on our industry and not just in terms of processes, but in facilitating real behavioural change.

According to the official notes, BS 11000 focuses on “collaborative business relationships” and will show “you how to eliminate the known pitfalls of poor communication”.

“It will play an integral part in providing a collaborative framework for all construction projects, ensuring real, equal partnerships”

It also “defines roles and responsibilities and supports collaborative decision-making, making your partnerships all the more valuable to your business”.

The key is that the old project models of client, contractor, designer etc evolved some time ago.

Better collaborative outcomes

So much of our work is through joint ventures and partnerships that a standard such as BS 11000 will be vital in providing a formal set of common goals that will result in better and more profitable outcomes for all.

When you also consider that national clients such as the Highways Agency and Network Rail are now looking towards “alliancing” models of delivery, with incentives on individual projects linked to overall programme delivery, then BS 11000 appears even more timely and necessary.

Perhaps most importantly, however, it will also play an integral part in providing a collaborative framework for all construction projects, ensuring real, equal partnerships will become standard practice on any one-off job.

“In an industry as complex as ours, ‘creative differences’ will always be part of the territory”

Collaboration can be viewed as an outcome-focused approach, much like what is expected from good programme management. 

The difference is that collaboration lends itself better to multi-supplier frameworks where everyone’s interests are more aligned, something that traditional frameworks have failed to achieve in the past.

Early engagement boost

For example, early-stage collaboration between designers and the people that will be responsible for operating, maintaining and using the asset brings multiple benefits to the asset lifecycle.

The designer’s solution can be checked and tested with the end-users, operators and maintainers as it is developed to ensure that they feel that it adequately meets the client’s requirements.

This enables the developing design to be assessed from the point-of-view of operation and maintenance against the stated clients requirements (and these requirements can themselves be tested and challenged if needed) to deliver an asset which is of the right quality for the end-user.

In an industry as complex as ours, ‘creative differences’ will always be part of the territory. This new standard, however, could finally ensure every project is a true collaboration where everyone wins.

Cameron Cromwell is managing director of infrastructure at Capita

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