We have set out our stall. The objective is to be 100% “Defect Free at Practical Completion” or DF@PC by 2018. There are a number of reasons for this: to reassure our clients that their job will be finished to an exemplary standard; making the client experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible and to reduce waste in terms of material and time, which has a clear impact upon the bottom lines of our business, and those of the consultants and subcontractors we work with.
The construction industry comprises a very broad spectrum of professions, which we often refer to as a supply chain that suggests that we are stronger together and relatively equal. However, anyone who works in our industry knows only too well that there is a distinct hierarchy – this is not a chain of strong links but rather a ‘food chain’ with a dominant force at the top. Perhaps it is time to shift our thinking? From Project Mangers, Contractors and Subcontractors, Architects, Designers, Mechanical and Electrical experts and a plethora of furniture and fittings, we all form a critical part of the team.
In order to be consistent about standards we need to be fanatical about every single detail, and this will only happen if the entire team shares this obsession for perfection. So how do we make that happen?
It must start with a mutual respect amongst all the parties involved in a project, and an understanding that we all have a critical part to play in ensuring that our mutual client ends up with the project they want.
The most contentious issues will always be time, budget and process – we must strive to diminish the conflicting agendas and imbue trust amongst the team. This means paying subcontractors on time so they are motivated to do the job and we always get the ‘A Team’. It means taking time to understand what is important to each specialism and appreciating why the detail matters, as it is here where the most added value is created.
As an industry we should challenge ourselves with other markets where anything less than perfection is unacceptable. The tech market for example: Apple’s products demonstrate that it is not only what the technology can do, it is the way it delivers the experience and how it is presented. Similarly, diners will not return to a Michelin Star restaurant in which their exacting standards are not attained. There is no doubt that top chefs are preoccupied about detail. Consider top athletes – Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, wins by a mere tenth of second because when you are at the top of your game your margin for error decreases.
As an industry we are quite a way off achieving this goal but what we do know is that in a healthier economic marketplace projects do not need to be dictated by price alone.
Clients are more aware than ever that the right working environments can impact upon productivity as well as recruitment and retention of the best employees. They want to go the extra mile to leverage their real estate potential and we as industry must, as a minimum, match this expectation but with the ultimate objective of surpassing it.
[A modified version of this was published by Steve Elliott on LinkedIn today.]