In order to boost the economy and protect jobs, the Prime Minister has allocated £5 billion to infrastructure over the next two years, promising to ‘build back better, greener and faster’.
While this is positive news for the industry, taxpayers’ money could end up being misspent if procurement procedures aren’t followed.
So how can project managers ensure they aren’t putting speed before quality, safety, and value for money?

Learning from experience

Recently, the need to adhere to Covid-19 constraints, while quickly delivering buildings that are fit for purpose, has pushed risk management to the top of the agenda. Experience gleaned during the latest high-speed construction projects could be applied more widely across a range of new developments.

However, speed mustn’t override key project management criteria, such as health and safety, quality, and cost. For example, where speed is prioritised, materials in the original design may be substituted on the basis of availability, which could compromise the resilience of the final structure.


Following project management best practice

The success or failure of a project is often determined by the approach taken in early-stage workshops and the level of contractor involvement.

To ensure the building is fit for purpose, stakeholders should be encouraged to discuss expectations for the end product, including, how it should  be used, who is capable of delivering it, and when it will be completed. This information can then be used to produce drawings and agree designs.


Utilising effective decision makers

When working at speed, last-minute design changes are more likely to occur. Once the project is underway, any changes are likely to be more costly. However, changes may be required to avoid delays with materials or subcontractors.

Where possible, using an experienced contractor, who is used to implementing policies quickly and managing shift handovers efficiently, can help to keep the project on track.


Using best practice methodologies 

Thorough risk assessments are crucial to ensure worker safety, hygiene measures, and social distancing rules are given priority in site operating plans.

When used during early risk assessments, best practice methodologies can help to identify and rank individual risk factors, according to their severity, or whether they are viewed as tolerable or intolerable.

For successful risk management, project management teams should implement techniques such as Risk Breakdown Structures, to prioritise risk factors before deciding how best to mitigate or eliminate them.

The new deal has the potential to reinvigorate the UK construction sector, injecting funding into vital infrastructure and supporting critical areas of the economy. However, in order to maximise the funding that has been made available, project partners must put past lessons to good use and strive for excellence and safety.


First published at Building Magazine