Smaller firms are analysing aspects of how they work to get better at it. By Lucy Handley
Not all firms measure their performance apart from in financially, but considering how your company runs in terms of time, cost and quality has obvious benefits which ultimately affect the bottom line.
And contractors are now getting together to openly discuss what they do well already and how they might improve. The Continuous Improvement club, run by the National Federation of Builders, is for SMEs which want to measure and improve their performance across health and safety, time, cost and quality.
The club is collecting data on performance which will be available later this year, but initial meetings have suggested that the members’ health and safety performance is very good. “We have also seen that churn rates are 10 per cent – which is below the industry average of 20 per cent,” says organiser Vassos Chrysostomou. He says this is likely to be because the firms are smaller and family run.
He is very keen on measuring performance, saying his life changed when he met Sir John Egan while working at BAA, where his team trialled the principles of Rethinking Construction before it was published. “What drives these guys is that it’s about getting better,” he says. Measurement makes you a more effective organisation and can be used to attract clients and prove that they are doing what they say they are in PQQ documents. Membership of the CI Club costs £1400 a year
For Malcolm Clarke, managing director of Kent contractor Baxall Construction, it is a chance to aim for perfect jobs. “One of the things we want is zero defects. If you don’t aim for that then you will always have something wrong,” he says.
“Six years ago we embarked on continuous improvement… but what was missing was the interaction between like-minded companies. This is the best way I have seen of pulling ideas together and discussing how we can continue to improve.”
His firm presented to the rest of the club on IT and has learnt from others on the way it was identifying and pricing risks on projects. “We had either been over pessimistic about how a project would go, we were taking all the finite details of the project into account and not being competitive.”
He says: “Those that don’t do continuous improvement they may be winning the work but might not be satisfying clients at the end of the day.”
For more details call 0845 057 0041 or see www.nfbcic.com