Alex Baikie was project director for the Catchment Consortium which was responsible for the successful completion of the £100M Tay Wastewater Scheme - one of Scotland's largest civil engineering projects. The consortium, which consists of United Utilities, awg and IWL, has a 28-year concession with Scottish Water to design, build and operate the new system.
'It's fair to say that at the outset of this scheme our attention was focused very much on the technical practicalities of getting such a huge project completed to an extremely tight timescale and budget.
'I think the broad view was that the potential benefits this project would bring from treating sewage from Dundee and the surrounding areas which had previously been dumped straight in the Tay, would outweigh any temporary inconvenience to the local community.
'But we didn't do enough at the outset with the local community to sell the long term benefits or set short term expectations.
'There's no doubt that this got us off to a sticky start. We had to address it quickly by putting in place a formal communications plan to run alongside the main project plan.
'Putting the plan into action made an immediate and sustained difference to our relationship with the community and the client, and contributed to the smooth delivery of what was an extremely challenging engineering project.
'Being on the front foot with your communications is well worth that extra management attention as it often saves you time and energy in the long run.'