Crises and opportunities on the road to recovery
While the primary focus may currently be on the opportunities for economic recovery following the pandemic, the reality is that the challenges that existed prior to March are still around. Brexit is anything but clarified and the likelihood of disruptions caused by major climate events such as heatwaves and flooding remain. Plus the industry was already struggling with narrow profit margins and poor levels of productivity. How can main contractors move forward and capitalise on opportunities while managing the multiple risks being faced?
The contractors that have best weathered the storms are those who have a focus on quality. Not only on delivering quality work and productivity, but also because they’ve been very selective about which projects they take on. They work within key areas of specialisation, focus on what they do well and have become industry leaders in certain sectors, rather than taking on any opportunity that comes their way. This quality focus has enabled them to streamline their operations, get rid of divisions that aren’t profitable and to invest in technology and talent in areas of core operational strength.
Becoming an industry specialist has certain perks. It can mean the company becomes the contractor of choice for specific types of projects. It also opens up opportunities for greater collaboration. Industry role players may recognise that it’s more efficient to joint venture and outsource certain aspects of projects rather than take them on themselves, because they don’t have the same level of expertise. This also enables them to focus on their core business strengths and in turn streamline their operations. It has an added benefit for the client in that they can have greater confidence in the expertise undertaking the project.
There’s been talk for a number of years of the disruptive potential of technology – for the better. Now that the industry has felt the adverse impacts of negative disruptions they’re more open to embracing technology as a solution. Most construction technology has evolved past the experimentation phase. It’s clear now that there are many aspects of working that software and hardware can do far more efficiently than humans. Using technology in the right way has the potential to make planning, monitoring the building of, and maintaining infrastructure more efficient.
A greater awareness of risks and potential disruptions is likely to factor into the future of construction, and better enable contractors to take on the opportunities presented.