Although the construction industry offers many opportunities for collaboration between consultants and contractors, these opportunities are often not fully explored.
“This results in contractual disagreements, and a disjointed and misaligned approach to projects,” says demolition expert Jet Demolition contracts manager Kate Bester.
Therefore, projects that do not have a collaborative and engaging approach to their overall management tend to display signs of distress early on. For example, budgets are soon exceeded; contractual claims are increasingly prevalent in meetings; and parties often segregate, with each resorting to defending their opinions instead of finding practical and effective solutions.
“With the ever-increasing pressure to complete projects on time, within budget and to the best standards possible, it is more important than ever to adopt collaborative approaches to large-scale projects,” highlights Bester.
For instance, contractors and consultants should share the fundamental objective of completing projects safely, to the best standard possible and cost effectively and at a price-point that is sensible.
As such, Bester suggests that young engineers and technicians should explore “both sides of the coin” in terms of consulting and contracting, if possible, as occasional vacation work is not necessarily sufficient to gain a deeper understanding of the industry. It is more beneficial to spend a few years with a consultant, and then to explore contracting for a few years – or vice versa.
“This is the only way to come to grips with the challenges of every facet of the industry. Additionally, it will broaden young engineers’ understanding of the construction industry and result in a much more collaborative approach to the projects they manage,” says Bester.
Bester tells Engineering News that it would be beneficial if contracting and consulting firms were to align their personnel development strategies and actively encourage young engineers to explore these aspects in the industry, within defined frameworks.
“These frameworks could include fundamental exchange programmes, during which willing participants could be given the opportunity to experience and explore both consulting and contracting without personal risk, for instance,” Bester says.
This insight and understanding could result in an approach to challenges that shifts from being defensive to cooperative. For example, project managers, design engineers and resident engineers can quickly assess and address issues as they arise – effectively collaborating to find the most practical and realistic approaches to challenges.
This, in turn, results in open and effective communication, reduced overall project costs, fewer claims and more realistic project timelines, Jet Demolition points out.
Moreover, the company has a number of personnel that have worked in contracting and consulting, including those who have worked in the civil engineering, mechanical engineering and construction industries, and who now work in the demolition sector.
This diverse collection of experience and people has resulted in a multifaceted team who can cohesively and collaboratively address some of the most challenging and difficult projects.