Click4Assistance UK Live Chat Software

Collaborative Working in Construction

Waterloo are regular champions of the Constructing Excellence Awards, and sponsors of the Integration and Collaborative Working category as we believe it is vital that positive change and innovation is recognised and celebrated within our industry.

Don Ward is Chief Executive of the not-for-profit Constructing Excellence, the organisation driving excellence through collaboration in construction. Waterloo Air Products are National Members.

We asked Don Ward, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence, his thoughts on collaborative working in the UK. This is what he had to say

UK construction has come a long way in the last twenty years. It is 70% safer, clients are 30% more satisfied, and the sector is responding to pressures on carbon. This is particularly true at the leading edge where big repeat clients, including many in the public and utilities sectors, and their suppliers are more mature in their understanding of risk. In particular, in procurement speak, construction is usually “high risk-high value” and thus needs to be procured in such a way as to enable collaborative working.

“70% safer, clients are 30% more satisfied”

The start of this change were the Latham and Egan reports of the 1990s. These were driven by client concerns about the impact on the performance of their core business by the inefficiencies and waste that were so prevalent in the construction industry. As an academic friend recently observed, the sector must be the only one which usually competes to deliver the same thing for a client rather than something different – plus its dominant business model and procurement routes too often incentivise conflict throughout the supply chain.

The need for collaborative working is the common theme running through this change agenda. We need to improve trust, foster a collaborative culture and eliminate adversarial relationships, and sort out processes such as early involvement, selection by value, common processes and aligned commercial arrangements.

“We need to improve trust, foster a collaborative culture and eliminate adversarial relationships”

Sound familiar? Our sector has always benefited from the fact that several industry sectors in the UK adopted partnering techniques before construction, notably the oil and gas sector with CRINE, manufacturing (notably Rover with Honda and other Japanese car transplants), and retail. These industries’ experiences influenced the adoption of partnering techniques in the construction industry, and provided lessons for us to learn and to avoid some of the early pitfalls. Their experiences also directly influenced the learning which transferred from their core businesses (manufacturing, retail etc) to the procurement and operation of their own built facilities (which are required to enable those core businesses) – thus the supermarket retailers were some of the earliest clients of the construction industry to adopt partnering. Hence the value to our sector of the Institute of Collaborative Working, enabling a cross-sector transfer of knowledge and learning.

“Supermarket retailers were some of the earliest clients of the construction industry to adopt partnering.”

By the way, another common thread in this journey has been the personal commitment and involvement of Ron Edmondson, Waterloo Air Products’ Managing Director. Since the mid 1990’s he has worked with us persistently to campaign for the sector to understand the manufacturing lean supply chain, its cost base and challenges when faced with an un-collaborative on most certainly non-lean process from its customers. This article gives me the chance to thank him sincerely for his continuing support and personal friendship along the way.

“Collaborative working has never been more important”

In our vision of construction by 2025, supported by the government’s industrial strategy for the sector Construction 2025, with ambitious targets for improvement of between 30-50%, the key headings are People, Smart, Sustainable, Growth and Leadership. Getting there means collaborative working, the journey includes respect for people and digital technologies to enable lean to deliver value. We are at a crossroads in industry improvement, and although the sector is coming out of recession, an era of relative austerity and serious pressures on client budgets is ahead of us. Collaborative working has never been more important, and I look forward to working closely with forward-looking suppliers such as Waterloo as we head towards a new era of collaboration and cost reduction through eliminating wasteful processes.

Constructing Excellence Awards 2016

The Awards are open for entries nationally, don’t miss your chance to enter for this prestigious award. Find out how to enter your company at

This year Waterloo are sponsoring and on the panel of judges for the Integration and Collaborative Working category for the London and the South-East Awards.

Judges will be looking for evidence of early involvement, selection by value, common processes and tools across organisations such as BIM, long term relationships, modern commercial arrangements and fair payment practices.

Obvious benefits will include a less adversarial approach and use of an appropriate contract to ensure this, but judges will assess delivery on results achieved against client set measurement results and how workforce development has led to improved products or services and customer satisfaction.

Successful entries will have effectively integrated their teams to such a level that they appear as a single entity to the customer. Joint submissions are strongly encouraged.

From all of us at Waterloo, we wish all entries the best of luck.