Working Together for the End User

A typical infrastructure upgrade project involves many partners. What really drives their decision making when it comes to planning the works? Is it the needs of the customer, end users, or their own organisation?

And where collaboration exists, what is it for? Collaboration might seem instinctively like a good thing. But it has to be done with a purpose and we have to be clear about the objectives.

Historically, individual organisations have tended to view projects from their own perspective: ‘let’s focus on our part of the project because that’s the bit we can control.’  Commercial pressures have often driven contractors to prioritise their own needs to make sure they deliver within budget even if nobody else does.

Value engineering demands more. Individual contractors can no longer work within their own bubble. We all have to take responsibility for the impact of our decisions on other contractors and on end users. We all have to take a broader view.

Keep the Traffic Flowing

On a highways project, minimising disruption and maintaining maximum traffic flow must have a high priority. Keeping closures and diversions as short as possible is one of the key success criteria.

Putting the needs of end users first may require some compromises. More often than not it just demands a bit more flexibility and awareness of how decisions about when and how we carry out particular tasks can impact on the work of other partners and on road users.

Beyond Information Sharing

Could a planned junction closure, for example, impact on material deliveries for a separate scheme on an adjacent road? What is the combined impact of the two schemes on road users and is there any way to mitigate it? When you start to consider the end user there is a focus to collaboration beyond simple information sharing.

As an industry we have better collaborative and project planning tools than ever. It’s time for contractors to harness the potential of these tools so we can all make each other’s lives simpler and minimise the impact of our work on the travelling public.

Taking the broader view also means that, collectively, contractors benefit from simplified workflows. Delays and unforeseen problems are less likely and project timings are more secure. This is surely a better outcome all round.