Supply chain modernisation guide ‘an impossible maze’

18 September 2002
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19 September 2002 | Robin Parker

Long-awaited guidance on modernising construction supply chains has been branded “hopelessly optimistic”.

Accelerating Change, the Strategic Forum on Construction’s follow-up to Sir John Egan’s landmark 1998 report Rethinking Construction, was published last week.

It promotes integrated project teams, in which clients and supply chain partners collaborate from the outset to drive out the “adversarial” culture that traditionally dominates the industry.

The forum says a fifth of construction projects by value should be carried out by integrated supply teams by the end of 2004, and half by 2007.

The forum will produce a toolkit by April next year detailing how to assemble and promote integrated teams.

But Stephen Ratcliffe, chief executive of the Construction Confederation, said the report failed to clarify the support and opportunities available.

“We are frankly punch drunk with the number of programmes and projects designed to improve our performance,” he said in a letter to Peter Rogers, the new forum chairman.

“For small and medium enterprises, this is an impossible maze.”

Ratcliffe said the targets will be hard to meet until whole-project insurance becomes more available and affordable.

Dave Porter, head of construction at consultancy PMMS, said the situation would not improve unless such recommendations were actively enforced.

“If you look at the pace of change to date, the targets are hopelessly optimistic,” he said. “It’s requiring clients to drive the changes themselves, but if they survive the way things are this is not going to happen.”

Zara Lamont, chief executive of the Confederation of Construction Clients, said support for integrated teams was widespread. “Even if only public sector clients implement the procedure, the target would be more than achieved by the due date,” she said.

Porter doubted this. “The public sector must be required to have integrated teams - it’s hard to get them to join in this way and few would stick their necks out,” he said.


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