Aug 21 2015

Four behaviours that compromise project success

Collaboration breakdownLast week’s blog on managing NEC contracts raised the issue of company culture and its impact on collaboration in construction. Contracts such as the NEC are an attempt to codify collaborative behaviours into the structure of a project.

Meanwhile BIM methodology, and collaboration technologies aim to enable and encourage a cooperative, non-adversarial approach to construction projects.  However, are these processes and technologies fundamentally overlooking the role of people in the success of a project?


The impact of the individual

 The simple fact is that even projects using collaborative contracts, collaboration platforms and integrated risk and commercial management solutions often experience delay, dispute and cost overruns, which can sometimes be catastrophic.  Somewhere something is going wrong, and if you have implemented best practice processes and supported them with suitable technology the issue must be people.  Here are four ‘people’ elements to consider in your project, in order to optimise the benefits of ‘technology’ and ‘process’ for the success of a project:


  1. Building a team

A construction supply chain is typically fragmented with a wide range of specialist suppliers being managed by a main contractor on behalf of the client.  These different groups are often brought together for a project, with little thought as to how to manage their interaction and how different organisational cultures can be overcome to create a cohesive team, resulting in them falling back on traditional adversarial behaviours.


  1. Taking responsibility

Collaboration, by definition requires people to admit when mistakes have been made and take responsibility for correcting them in partnership with others.  Owning-up to errors is something that people often find difficult, particularly if they are used to an adversarial culture on projects.  This can lead to errors which have time and cost consequences not being declared in the hope that time and cost can be saved elsewhere, leading to greater problems further down the supply chain.  Taking responsibility for mistakes encourages an open, mature and honest approach where change is shared, managed and resolved as and when it happens, helping to reduce risk on the project.


  1. Selling Collaboration

A collaborative project relies on managers at all levels of the supply chain, but particularly within the project team to extol the value of a collaborative approach and how it can benefit all parties.  Collaborative efforts such as meetings with the supply chain must have a clear purpose and agreed follow ups rather than simply existing to tick a box.  Collaboration has a real value to the supply chain, allowing them to save time and money through more efficient and open working practices leading to fewer mistakes and delays and collaboration needs to be sold as such to achieve buy in.


  1. Include human factors in risk management

Human factors can significantly affect the time, cost and quality of work undertaken on a project, as a result project teams need to ensure they include this into their risk management process.  The impact of individual actions (or inaction) can be difficult for project managers to anticipate and identify.  Structured, transparent communications processes can make issues easier to identify whilst strong reporting encourages individuals to comply with these processes, in line with the specified contract.


Changing behaviour

In summary, when considering the trinity of People, Process and Technology, collaboration technology can remove barriers to communication between project teams and automate processes, whilst better reporting improves visibility of issues and enables improved decision-making, and collaborative contracts such as NEC3, JCT and others can clearly codify the responsibilities of all parties involved.

However these measures can only make collaboration easier, they can’t change the culture of organisations and the behaviour of individuals alone.  To achieve a true collaborative culture, clients and project teams need to evangelise about the tangible, commercial benefits of collaboration to their supply chain, and pick partners and suppliers who buy into this message and understand the benefit.

To find out how CONJECT support a collaborative approach to construction, infrastructure and real estate visit our website.


Other blogs you may find interesting:

Technology is the critical aspect of a successful collaboration, right? Wrong

 Gaining a competitive advantage in construction

About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

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