Blog: ‘Intelligent Client’ – don’t you just hate that phrase?

14 January 2016

It insinuates that there are some clients out there that are just not intelligent!

There may be inexperienced clients, for many of whom construction is not their core business, and there may be some that are not particularly skilled at specifying the requirements and managing the delivery outcomes but that certainly does not mean that they are not very clever or couldn’t easily learn better ways of doing things.

Investment in construction solutions to produce better business outcomes, improved infrastructure or improved quality of life remains one of the biggest outlays for an individual, a company or from the public purse. Firmly at the centre of efficient, productive, relationships right through the supply chain – Clients need to maximise value for money with minimal risk and quality outcomes.

There are lots of clients with an excellent track record of creating the right environment to deliver great projects; we see lots of great examples every year when we review the Client of the Year submissions for the Constructing Excellence Awards. By looking at the way others do things, we can learn a lot and help others to achieve the highest possible value when commissioning work.

At a workshop we held just before Christmas with a group of construction professionals from across the sector, including clients, we came up with the following list of what we could all consider to do better.

  • Constantly review all aspects of projects
  • Measure downwards, not just upwards through the supply chain
  • Winner Client of the Year 2015: Heathrow Learn from their progressive programme
  • Standardisation of components as well as building solutions will achieve better working environments & savings
  • Collaborative working at all tier levels essential
  • Monthly performance reviews
  • Inspire others, drive efficiencies and encourage staff loyalty
  • Team behaviours across the supply chain
  • Attitude to risk from client perspective
  • Better standardisation of not only process/systems but components/suppliers
  • Heathrow culture measurement, using data to drive behaviour
  • Client behaviours – client to set the standard
  • Client leadership – sponsorship engagement
  • If you are going to fail, “fail early” and change
  • Ask what suppliers want
  • Grow your people until they could move on - but create an environment which keeps them
  • 360⁰ feedback suppliers/clients + associated action plan

When I asked Chris Harrison what was so exciting about sponsoring the Client of the Year category in the Constructing Excellence LSE Awards this year he said: “we hope to inspire others to adopt new and better ways of working, but we also know that we need to provide continuous improvement to ensure that we deliver outstanding results for us and our clients.” Chris Harrison, Account Director, Regional Scape Framework Director for the South London and South East Region, Willmott Dixon

Suffice to say that the word intelligent should be replaced with inexperienced when talking about clients, and as you can see from the list above, there are many ways to gain experience through learning from others.

Author: Tina McGeachan, Head of Market Development, SECBE

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