Intelligent clients and construction outcomes

There is a connection between sustainable procurement, asset management, value for money in construction projects, and the intelligent client.

Intelligent clients are, “firmly at the centre of efficient, productive, value-for-money relationships with the sponsor and supply chain…” according to the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE).

This doesn’t mean that that the essence of an intelligent client can simply be distilled into the ability to extract more and more value from the supply chain and the contractors. It’s about managing and interacting with people, vision, and leadership – also key skills for the contract project manager.

In February 2021, Constructing Excellence International in conjunction with the Building Research Establishment (BRE), released a study called The Intelligent Client in UK Construction.

This concluded that construction projects commissioned by intelligent clients had various positive outcomes such as:

  1. Higher probability of on time on budget delivery.
  2. Capital cost savings.
  3. Time/programme benefits.
  4. Environmental benefits such as more waste recycled, savings on embodied carbon use, better water economy and energy efficiency at the construction’s completion.
  5. Higher levels of customer and end-user satisfaction.
  6. The potential for social value benefits such as apprentices, the creation of local jobs or the engagement of local firms employed.

And yet, applying the principles of the intelligent client does not benefit procurement professionals alone.

Collaboration skills are key for both client and contractor as working in isolation on a shared project is rarely intelligent.

Maintaining consistency, whilst also being flexible throughout a project, positively impacts on the process of delivery as standard designs can be customised to the satisfaction of both sides.

Intelligent clients who exhibit a further willingness to be flexible when it comes to project adaptations, for example the use of different materials, managing transport and logistics, or new construction processes and timelines, benefit from the expertise and experience of the contractor, who, in turn, can incorporate the principles of the intelligent client, in their offering.

This can result in improved sustainability, lower emissions, higher quality results and speedy completion of the project. What’s more, besides the usual – and vital – metrics of time, spec, and budget, both sides can focus on additional desired outcomes such as benefits to a community, local employment, enhanced environmental benefits and any other added value delivered by the project.

Contractors who respect the intelligence of the client and understand the principles of The Intelligent Client can help make the pieces of the jigsaw fit together perfectly.

RB Plant | Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Consultancy | Pointing finger