Thriving or Diving? Secrets to achieving successful outcomes

On Tuesday 15 June 2021, we hosted an industry-leading panel discussion on achieving success in the construction sector.

The panel discussion was facilitated by Travis Tomlinson (MinterEllisonRuddWatts) and consisted of Ross Copland (New Zealand Infrastructure Commission), Adrienne Miller (NZ Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia), Janine Stewart (MinterEllisonRuddWatts), Rebecca Robertshawe (Ministry of Education) and Peter Reidy (CEO of Fletcher Construction).  Each panelist explored the settings that define successful outcomes in the construction sector, bringing their unique personal perspectives to the discussion.

It was clear from the session that industry participants and stakeholders have differing objectives, and so success naturally has different meanings to different people.  Success can be measured at a project level, but there are also broader social, cultural and environmental outcomes that are not usually included in the cost benefit analysis but contribute to the long-term success for the project.  So success is not necessarily about cost, but also about value, the health of the industry, the contribution to the communities that projects are delivered in, and creating a quality asset that is going to stand the test of time.

A key theme emerged around senior leaders and the critical role they play in ensuring a project’s success by driving culture from the top down.  Successful projects tend to have strong governance and accountability, with common elements including clear business cases, effective decision-making processes, and the individuals involved having clarity around their roles, responsibilities and objectives.  It’s critical to have senior leaders and stakeholders heavily involved in the project creating context, culture and the why for the project while adopting an integrated, collaborative approach between the principal, contractor and design professionals from design through to completion.  Successful outcomes, it was clear, are more readily achievable when those senior leaders are heavily involved.

The how emerged as an important factor of success.  There are opportunities to involve project participants, including advisors and contractors, early in the planning and design process for the benefit of all.  Approaching the procurement process in an open and transparent manner and troubleshooting before any problems arose gives the parties a greater level of understanding and clear expectations which allows tenderers to tender more accurately.

Successful outcomes, it was clear, are more readily achievable when those senior leaders are heavily involved.

Success is also, of course, about value. The construction industry in New Zealand tends to be combative and focused on pricing.  In defining success, the classic project factors of on time and on budget remain critical, but fail to take into account the quality of the asset for the life of the project, relationships and client satisfaction. Issues including disputes can and do arise; success is dependent on having plans and procedures in place to deal with those issues.

A common theme was the emphasis to be placed on solving problems, collaborating, and fostering a team culture to drive a project to completion. Success is about listening and learning: listening to the market, and continuously realigning strategic direction are both vital.

If you have any questions regarding the content covered in the session, please contact Janine Stewart, Travis Tomlinson or a member of our Construction Team.

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