Tom Boland, global head of digitalisation at Zutec, explains how the Construction Innovation Hub’s new Value Toolkit can help the construction industry realise the long-term benefits and impact of projects.
The construction industry has become accustomed to thinking in the short term, focusing on elements such as minimising cost and transferring risk. However, by not considering the bigger-picture, real value of projects, it misses out on the long-term benefits to society, the economy and the environment.
With Construction Innovation Hub’s new Value Toolkit – a government-backed initiative which looks to change the way the construction industry thinks about and measures value – construction companies will be able to make more value-based decisions with their projects.
Doing so should result in a better outcome for everyone involved, from investors to end users. It’s a welcome change to the sector’s current processes but requires a new approach and way of thinking – particularly when it comes to the use of technology.
Barriers to progress
The construction industry is known to be adversarial, due to siloed work environments, one-off projects (whereby teams may have not worked together before and thus there is a lack of trust), and conflicting project requirements, to name a few. This presents obstacles when it comes to collaboration and a collective goal of achieving valuable, long-term results.
The sector is also one of the slowest to digitise, with many construction professionals fearful of what they perceive as a dramatic change, They may be unwilling to steer away from traditional practices and systems, such as Microsoft Excel and Dropbox, which aren’t tailored to industry-specific needs. There’s also reluctance to progress from paper, which is both an environmental concern and a barrier to advancement. The longer the sector shies away from digital tools, the longer it will remain stagnant.
Driving up value
It’s essential that the industry changes its approach to one that supports informed decision-making, allowing it to innovate towards a value system driven by more than profit.
The government’s Construction Playbook, which is set to help companies meet building safety requirements and reach Net Zero, emphasises a broader approach to project valuation by continuously forecasting and measuring whole-life value performance. The Value Toolkit directly supports these objectives and offers a way to realise them and empowers suppliers to offer tools which meet their clients’ specific value drivers. It also encourages companies to address the skills and training needs required to bring members of the industry on board with this new way of working, driving better long-term results.
Time to focus on tech
Using the latest digital tools, the construction industry can manage progress and assess value across the whole life cycle of a project. They are also important in terms of the requirements set out in the Building Safety Bill, particularly in relation to the way contractors hold and manage compliance information.
For instance, with the use of Quality Management modules, such as the one Zutec provides, field engineering teams can maintain compliance with construction quality specifications. Additionally, digitised QA/QC processes and snagging and defect management tools allow staff to work and collaborate via their mobile devices and customise inspections processes. During the construction phase, this reduces admin time and inefficiencies. In the long run, it ensures the safety of projects, lower maintenance and a reduction in carbon emissions.
A whole new industry
The Value Toolkit is a seismic shift which will move the sector from being cost-focused to value-driven, all to society’s benefit. It’s set to drive a new culture of transparency, openness and accountability, and when this is coupled with a rigorous approach to metrics in assessing success, robust data management will be a lynchpin component of successful projects.
Construction professionals who use the Toolkit, as well as other software such as Zutec, will be able to focus on the value of their projects, giving them a significant competitive advantage. This is therefore a wake-up call to the industry, as contractors without a digital transformation strategy or innovation plan, and subcontractors who lack digital skills, will be left behind.