on integrated, clustered project management …

There have been a good number of conversations on twitter recently in discussing collaborative procurement and collaborative contract management. It is amazing that such a dialogue can take place in just 140 characters at a time, reinforcing the potential of twitter and why there should be more adoption within the built environment for knowledge and improvement share.

 Su Butcher over at Just Practicing blogged on the design and build conversation, and to pick up on that (and to complete a few promises for more information to those in the twitter conversations) here is my contribution, that links together D+B, PQQ,s Clustering and Integrated Project Management


opps v costs


Early engagement in a project is essential for all parties and stakeholders, to ensure best possible outcomes for meeting client / end users needs, value, quality, time, sustainability, and community impact.  The classic chart opposite that shows opportunities for change (read improvement, or adding value) mapped against cost of doing the same demonstrates the potential of early involvement.

Typically – (I would say historically but I know it is current, and even the term historically adds some kind of respectability to poor practice) the contracting team is not appointed until the brief and design are ready for build. Even worst the project build team is not assembled until after the main contractor and then progressively throughout the construction programme. 

Design Build moves the engagement of the project design and build main players to earlier in the process, often following brief or concept design. This is good yet still leaves these parties out of the brief and out of any value management exercise, where undoubtedly they can add real value. 

Bringing the project design and build teams in on day or week zero can be achieved through mature frameworks and or relationships, along with mature cost and contract arrangements. End users and FM should likewise be part of the early engagement, or ideally there first , engaging the others as the project process drivers.



This leads to an Integrated Project Team, which looks, feels and acts very differently from a traditional project organisational structure. Issues such as co location in one office, shared and seconded staff across the project all add to an effective delivery of value.  But as has been commented in the twitter conversations this approach is rarely practiced to its full potential, and arguably not since Building Down Barriers.

(But see the Highways Agency ECI, Early Contractor Involvement approach)

In addition, whilst the contractor may be engaged at an earlier stage, to add value they really need to engage with their supply chains, ideally adopting clusters around elements of construction. This allows specialist and build-ability knowledge into design, but necessitating. again mature, supplier relationships or ready-to-go (RTG) clusters.

Appointment of the players in this collaborative and integrated model requires careful selection, and arguably cost should not feature at all. Ideally trusted players from previous contracts, ie supply chains or clusters would be assembled, as happens elsewhere in other sectors.  

Such integrated approaches are essential in achieving improvement to predictability of time and cost, adding value and meeting the project objectives.

Pre-Qualification Questions, PQQ’s, interviews, visits, collaborative workshops etc as part of the selection should focus on procuring the designers, contracting,  facilities management teams etc based on such issues as proven approaches to achieving requirements and reducing budget costs through tackling waste in the process. There is estimated to be 30% waste of time, material, effort, documentation management  etc in the overall project process – and so really tackling this can produce far greater savings than through selection on price to get lowest or best value prices.  (But the thread of Higher Costs from Lower Prices is another blog subject!, as is the poorly understood difference between cost and price) 

I guess I should point out that a far amount of my support time to clients, contracts and contractors is spent on facilitating this type of integrated working, or some of the individual components thereof.  

And the interest in this approach?  Well that would appear to be on the increase (at least on paper unfortunately), as, in current economic circumstances, contractors seek approaches that would offer improved value and reduce costs for their clients in an attempt to differentiate them from competition and win work.  

The culture of mistrust and baggage of the industry though really prevents real progress. But, as we cannot fix the problems of today’s industry with the thinking that created the problems – new thinking is required, new thinking in terms of early engagement, integrated, clustered project management.


Twitter Conversationists in their own words (twitter profiles) included:

The_Architect : Manchester, UK. Chartered Architect, Music lover. Frank Lloyd Wright expert and a Romantic soul.

LizMale: Buckinghamshire. PR consultant specialising in UK construction and sustainability in the built environment

EEPaul: SE England, London SE3, Woking London-based blogger on IT, SaaS, construction, PR, marketing and Web 2.0 stuff (also a Crewe Alex FC fan, Wikipedian, cyclist)

Fairsnape: Forest of Bowland Lancs UK. Supporting, shaping and commenting on trends, web stuff, improvements and futures in the built environment

Melstarrs: London or Leeds, UK Green Building Design Engineer and Accreditation Professional (CIBSE, BREEAM & LEED)

ConstructingExc: London. Constructing Excellence is the single organisation charged with driving the change agenda in construction, housing and regeneration.

SuButcher: Essex, UK Practice Manager for No-nonsense Architects Barefoot & Gilles. Tweets on the UK Construction and Property Industry, blog at http://www.justpractising.com

Geoffwilkinson: UK Building Regulations Expert, Fire Engineer, Arsenal Fan, Partial to the odd Real Ale

PaulDohertyAIA: Shanghai. New York Architect, Living and Working in Shanghai, China

HotelDesignsCroydon, Surrey. we are the online magEzine for the hotel interior design industry featuring directory, news, reviews and more!


on passivhaus challenges

Su Butcher  has posted an excellent and very useful comment on PassivHaus  being about saving energy over on her blog, Just Practicing.  I did comment there in brief but here is a more detailed response.

Relationship with Code 6 and Carbon Definition  As was reported from the Zero Hub consultation Passiv Haus is the aspirational target of the UK zero carbon definition, not only for domestic but for a wider scope of building.  

Challenges  The PassivHaus challenges are not just within in design. (With all the eco-kit, materials, knowledge and lessons from PassivHaus in use out there, the ‘design’ of passivhaus is now arguably just a process to repeat)

Challenges lie, in my view, in three areas:

Construction. Construction of PassivHaus will require a far higher level of quality and fit than we are used to (at least in the UK) .  Research at Leeds Met is showing that the retro investigation and remedial work to fix or improve on failed air tightness tests can be prohibitively expensive and may well become commonplace.

I am excited and impressed that one of my clients, a Lancashire house building contractor are building /eco- refurbing one of their own properties to learn and understand the new issues involved in PassivHaus  (they are also doing the same to CSH6  + I hope to get a case study together soon)

End Users – the challenge here is to engage with the hearts and minds of potential PassivHaus dwellers. Ask anyone (esp with a family) if they would want to live in a PH and most often the response would be no.  And that is on the house ‘image’ – there is also the life style of living in a sealed box with minimal user ventilation that needs addressing.  This may apply to all modern eco-homes in what Greer refers to unforgivingly vertical houses not being designed for practical family life. (And does anyone else have the Peter Seger song Little Boxes playing in the mind when looking at / reviewing / visiting modern new eco homes?)

Existing Stock – Here the challenge is to move the PassivHaus  debate and design considerations away from new build home to PassivHaus eco renewal, and away from just homes to commercial, industrial and public buildings. 

using twitter in the built environment?

Next week, the 12 – 15th May, sees a series of built environment ‘events’ in the UK:

All of these will use twitter as a ‘backchannel’ to enable off line chat, discussion or commentary on the events.  Each of the events has a twitter hashtag   ( #be2campnorth   #sustnow and  #FACshow09 )

The use of twitter will also allow those not able to attend  to keep in touch with real time happenings within the events, and also enable input into sessions from more than just those attending.  All increasing the scope, reach and impact of the events

I did consider putting together a top 10 reasons and benefits of tweeting, why construction and facilities management should twitter, why managers should let their staff twitter and indeed why managers themselves should!.  

However, far better to get a collaborative list from built environment people who use twitter and realise its value (you know who you are!) 

So in preparation for the potentially unprecedented flurry of twitter use next week what are your reasons to use twitter? (add to comments below and I will compile)