How early engagement drives efficiency and mitigates project risk

The public sector remains under pressure to demonstrate value for money and meet the Government’s aim of ‘delivering more for less’. This comes at a time when the construction industry is not only suffering from a skills and labour shortage but has a critical mass of large-scale projects competing for the same resources. In an over-heated market such as this, clients must adopt efficient procurement routes if they are to achieve best value.

At Lendlease, we regularly analyse and benchmark our own internal developments with external contracts to understand how we can drive maximum value for our clients. The evidence is compelling - when we engage with clients early in the design process, we are typically able to deliver a 10% increase in efficiency.

Whether your goal is maximising what you can deliver for a fixed sum, or simply lowering costs while maintaining the very highest aspirations, early contractor engagement is key. By understanding this process - particularly through the design phase - we can create efficiencies, mitigate risk and drive greater certainty of outcome across time, cost and quality.

SCAPE's frameworks are one of the few that allow the public sector to engage with contractors early. By contrast, typical procurement processes see the contractor involved only after the design team has mapped out the concept, or even after they have taken it through the planning process. As a result, by the time a contractor is engaged, clients may be locked into a design that is not working as hard as it could.

Early contractor engagement allows us to bring in experts ranging from our in-house Design and Technical team to sustainability professionals and supply chain partners. Each one feeds their combined experience into the design team. This helps optimise the design, improve buildability and identify areas where innovation could produce greater efficiencies.

With more than 80% of a project’s costs allocated to subcontract trades, this advice can deliver transformational benefits.

Lucy Homer, Managing Director SCAPE Principal Works, Lendlease

Take HMP Berwyn, our £212m project to deliver the UK’s largest prison. By forming an integrated, co-located project team comprising ourselves, the client, the consultant and key supply chain partners, we were able to reduce building footprints, relocate buildings and redesign the M&E and drainage solutions. As a result, we delivered 26% savings across the scheme including a client risk saving of more than £4m.

Lendlease also brings the added advantage of being an integrated development and construction business. This means we understand the pressures, constraints and ambitions of our clients to optimise construction cost, while maintaining the integrity of design and quality.

HMP Berwyn

At Elephant and Castle for example, we are working with our development arm and Southwark Council to deliver a £2.4bn regeneration programme. Early engagement has allowed us to increase design efficiencies across buildings by up to 10%, without compromising the performance or quality expected by the Council. This, in tandem with competitive market testing of subcontract elements, reduces capital cost, mitigates risk and focuses spend in the areas of greatest importance to clients.

As for the question of whether a contractor can be brought in ‘too soon’, the answer has to be ‘no’. With clients maintaining cost and design advice from their consultants, the onus remains on the contractor to prove value for money, which means delivering the most efficient and optimal design.

Lucy Homer 0001

Written by:

Lucy Homer

Managing Director SCAPE Principal Works