While we celebrate and recognise the achievements of the winners of the Annual Building Awards we should take time to reflect on some of the behind the scenes business reasons for their outstanding success.
Outstanding achievements are only possible through the absolute passion, dedication and desire of the leaders and their team to go the extra mile to produce work that is of a world class standard and sets them apart from their competition. The passion of a single person is seldom sufficient. That passion needs to exist in the whole team and be part of the culture of the organisation.
The important attitude component is clear identification and focus on meeting and achieving the client’s needs. If the objective is just to build a building, that is all that will be achieved. If the client’s needs are properly researched and understood and the focus is on exceeding the client’s needs, the final structure will not only delight the client but everyone that participated in the project and those that use a structure.
Quantity Surveyor Team
Highly successful project managers need a highly capable and dedicated team back in the office. This starts with the estimating team of quantity surveyors and others involved in planning and costing the project to ensure that there is sufficient margin in each area of the work to enable a quality focus rather than a lowest price mentality. Mistakes in their work can lead a company to financial ruin or at the other extreme miss out on projects that could have been won. As well as the detailed calculations, this team need to retain a strong overview to ensure the costs of each component are reasonable and nothing is missed. Too often tenders are won or seriously considered from those who made the biggest mistake in their estimates which risks the viability of the contractor or sub contractor.
The accounting and QS team that track the costs and identify and alert management at the earliest opportunity of potential issues are equally critical. A common ingredient in those company’s which collapse is poor costing records and poor tracking of costs. Actual costs need to be compared to forecasts to identify and manage issues as well as gain a better understanding of costs for pricing of future work.
The accounting team also need to ensure that there is robust, timely and relevant reporting to management so that better and earlier decisions are able to be made. Technology has come a long way in recent years and reporting is able to be a lot more sophisticated and with much better drill down features that in the past. Focus on the areas of risk. Develop a dashboard approach that quickly and clearly identifies overall progress and any warning signs.
In an industry where cashflows are always tight, the good company’s plan their cashflows robustly and have high frequency reporting. This improves the quality and timeliness of decisions. Tight or poorly managed cashflow can be a major timewaster and distraction to management.
The culture of the organisation is critical. It must be led from the top and be consistent throughout the organisation. A good culture needs to focus on excellence, continual improvement, collaboration and avoiding a blame mentality. The organisation needs to value all employees and ensure they are motivated and engaged. Teams without these characteristics will seldom perform well.
Construction is a high risk industry and one of the tasks at all levels of management is a continual focus on risk identification and risk management. It too, drives to the heart of the culture and the achievements of the organisation and its participants. Risks arise in all aspects of business; safety, financial, contractual, quality, performance, resourcing etc.
Utilising the resources, ideas and capabilities of a wider group of people and organisations in a collaborative manner assist and solve many issues and results in a better project and better individual outcomes. Other reasons for success will be identified and we all need to learn from the achievements of the winners and apply these in our own business.
The building industry has been applying collaborative processes for a longer time and more effectively than many other sectors of the economy. It requires a more open approach and strong communication.