At Laing O’Rourke, we’re already pushing productivity hard with our emphasis on Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and digital engineering. But more needs to be done. We’re now committed to a business plan that puts even greater focus on productivity, prioritising efficient and effective approaches that offer added value to clients.
Liam Cummins, head of UK Construction, believes Laing O’Rourke’s productivity strategy will bring “an operational focus and intensity that’s very different to the traditional way of delivering major programmes”.
The productivity strategy hinges around the following core themes:
Streamlined business structures
A more streamlined business structure aims to create the agility to take decisions more quickly. This is being achieved by ‘cutting the layers of reporting’ and delegating to appropriate management teams. Reducing spans of control is another tactic to improve project management agility.
More visibility around project performance
Laing O’Rourke is refining the monitoring of costs through detailed project trackers, which were enhanced last year. Using ‘real time’ data gathered from all our sites, the trackers cover a newly expanded range of key project performance indicators.
Standard operational framework
Another measure to improve productivity is a new standard operational framework, which is being updated to reflect the scale and structure of current projects, including joint ventures.
“Each major UK project now has a standard delivery core team: a project leader, a technical leader, a delivery leader, a planning and project controls leader and a commercial leader,” says Liam.
Risk and reward incentives
Of course, incentives to complete a project to specification, on time or under budget are part and parcel of many of our construction contracts. The interests of project client and deliverer are aligned, for example, by a contractor’s fees being dependent on completing a new retail centre in time for the Christmas shopping spike.
Early engagement with clients and their consultant teams is fundamental to Laing O’Rourke’s strategy to boost productivity. “It’s common sense really, the earlier you engage with the client and their advisory team the earlier you can sort out any potential issues that might cause delays and hit productivity,” says Stewart McIntyre, group finance director.
Stewart says early engagement is a chance for us to talk to prospective clients about other kinds of added value Laing O’Rourke brings. “Many construction projects are awarded on the basis of the lowest price. But certainty and agility around the delivery of a project are just as important – and that’s what we’re offering.” Strategic procurement is another productivity benefit to push in early engagement.
Investing in our people
As part of our Human Capital agenda, a number of training schemes are under way or planned for supervisors, construction managers and project leadership teams, each earning participants Institute of Learning and Management certification. “An engaged workforce is a productive workforce,” says John O’Connor, group human capital director, “and it’s great to see how rewarding these programmes are for people.” He adds: “Our aim is to move into more complex engineering environments with our clients, and we’ll be able to say that our people are either accredited to lead, manage or supervise. That not only improves productivity but is a differentiator in the market.”
The wider UK economy depends on a healthy, fit-for-the-21st-century construction industry. Productivity is a challenge that just can’t be ignored any longer.