Opinion: Shaping the Construction Industry’s Future
Tomorrow looks like a more testing future for the construction and infrastructure sector, hence the need to look at factors that will produce the highest performance from construction project teams.
In today’s tough financial climate, many countries face a shortage of good construction skills. Therefore, the ability of a business to find and retain the best people is often what defines the sector’s winners. As a result, firms are increasingly seeking a flexible talent pool from across the world, to be deployed rapidly to a new project, bid or team. But that model, where this agile responsiveness underpins a firm’s success, is now under real pressure.
This is at a time when the market is becoming increasingly globally competitive in the race to squeeze margins and speed delivery – with new technologies, modular design and new methods of prefabricated construction, for example, redefining the traditional make-up of the construction team.
It is clear that the construction sector is already under pressure to look constantly at how to drive greater value out of the way teams actually work together and operate – through innovations in the technology, working practices and management they use. What exactly, however, will define the highly adaptable, successful project team able to compete and win in a more testing future economy?
- Create the “all-informed net”: Good teams build into the project plan a military-style plan of procedures for communicating so that everyone knows what everyone else is doing, all of the time.
- Use technology more wisely: New technology is becoming absolutely ubiquitous but good teams distinguish innovation from invention: they establish (or take expert advice on) which specific technologies add most transformative value.
- Adaptable leadership: Outcomes are more important than outputs, so change direction within a project if needed (this supports the increasing use of ‘smart contracting’). Adaptability is also important to technological and societal change, such as the career expectations of millennials.
- Focus team members on their value-add: Most high-performing teams are small and co-located, but, by defining the very clear value, not just responsibility, of each person, high performance can be extracted from large teams working at a distance.
- Facilitate collaboration: Project collaboration needs to be established not just as an organizational culture, but implemented via physical tools, thus creating a measurable efficiency.
Embracing technological change is necessary but it is equally important not to lose sight of the fact that teams consist of and are driven by people. Experienced and empathetic leaders are vital in selecting the composition of a successful team and instilling its members with a clear business-driven vision and sense of identity. Team members must each have clear roles and be able to challenge and trust one another.
This article was authored by Faith Tangara. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Quantity Surveying.