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Clients' hypocrisy sets industry back


NOBODY likes to have their innermost workings scrutinised. But for the sake of all the efforts being made to improve our industry, construction's clients should be prepared to have their payment performance measured.

The introduction of key performance indicators to benchmark the construction process is one of the most important initiatives ever tried in this industry.

It allows the industry to look objectively at itself and push for continual improvements.

Companies can see where they are falling short. Ultimately it will make the industry a better, safer, more efficient place to work.

For the last 20 years, construction has been defined by an adversarial culture in which payments are withheld or made late, and claims for payment are disputed.

Introducing some way of benchmarking payments must be a step in the right direction.

With good reason, clients have been pushing the industry for years to squeeze every last drop of inefficiency out of the construction process. It is a shame then that some of the prime movers behind Rethinking Construction do not want their part in the construction process to be scrutinised.

It undermines everything the industry is trying to achieve. And apart from anything else, it smacks of hypocrisy.

Along with partnering - that other 'new' practice construction clients have imported from other sectors - benchmarking requires trust. Clients, contractors and subcontractors need to believe everyone is pulling in the same direction. Not trying to take unfair advantage.

For the clients to say they do not want their role to be subject to the same scrutiny and processes of continuous improvement they demand of contractors will seriously erode any trust that has built between clients and contractors over the last few years.

Clients should lead by example. After all, what's sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander.