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2015 Needs to be the Year of Early Engagement

Osborne’s rebrand to bold pink last year does a good job of grabbing the attention of customers – existing and new. Just as important as engaging with customers is early contractor engagement on our projects, and this remains a red hot topic. It’s nothing new, but contractors understanding their customers’ needs in 2015 and acting on them will be essential. The key is collaboration.

All parties involved need to have an understanding and set out on an equal footing. We need to be braver this year about ensuring a collective approach to meet the outcomes for our customers.

This starts with honest, upfront conversation and then staying true to this belief during the project, even if things become tense. “We need to be braver this year about ensuring a collective approach to meet the outcomes for our customers” The benefits for customers and contractors who engage early are that they have not only the buildability aspect but, in these changing market conditions, their insight allows design processes and costs to be aligned to market positions and capabilities. Often, contractors are involved too late; these considerations then turn into a value-engineering exercise, delaying project procurement and, in a rapidly rising market, heaping greater financial and time pressures upon the project.

Contractors are increasingly choosing to work with a limited number of customers to lead a radical rethink of the design and construction process. This starts with the customer’s brief. Contractors need to fully understand the desired outcomes in terms of building design, function and cost. Recently we have seen more early engagement of contractors and other stakeholders during the design process, with huge benefits to the end-outcome. “Often, contractors are involved too late”

Osborne examples include Winchester University, where we worked with design engineers on the new student centre, the performing arts building and the learning and teaching block. Since completion, student interest in Winchester as a university has nearly doubled and other universities have visited to analyse how the look and quality was achieved.

For Osborne, early engagement is crucial. We want to meet the customer’s needs in an affordable way, and avoid unnecessary redesign costs by ensuring we are meeting all end-outputs as the design develops. We ensure all stakeholders are on board with the design as early as possible. It is important we bind together from the word go and find ways of accommodating competing priorities.

Andy Steele heads up Construction at Osborne and this week he spoke to “Construction News.”

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