Delivering more for less is without question going to be the mantra for the civil engineering and construction industry over the next half decade - and perhaps beyond.
It was a point highlighted by the government’s chief construction advisor Paul Morrell last week at the launch of NCE’s new Infrastructure Show which will focus on helping the industry tackle just this issue.
So prepare yourselves. You are going to be hearing a lot more about this particular mantra in the future, not least in NCE over the next nine months building towards the Infrastructure Show and starting with our special focus on the subject on 25 March.
And no apologies for this. Successfully getting your head around what you need to do to give your clients more for less while still making a return yourselves is likely to be crucial to keeping you in business going forward.
“The key challenge for every public sector client is how to deliver 20% to 30% more value for every pound spent”
As the economic secretary to the Treasury, Ian Pearson said last week: “We will need to do more for less…the more savings we make through innovative ideas and collaborative procurement, the greater resource we will have available”.
But what exactly does delivering more for less mean? Morrell explains that, as far as public sector clients are concerned, we need simply to focus on two themes.
The first “more” is around the testing issue of public procurement. As we are all now very aware, the UK’s coff ers are empty.
The key challenge facing public sector clients today is how to deliver 20% to 30% more value for every public pound spent and to prepare for the impending 2011 post-election cuts.
The second is around carbon and the critical need for public clients to meet the demands of the government’s ambitious low carbon transition plan.
Meeting the challenge of reducing every department’s emissions and embedded carbon is now very much the driver for change and informs the language spoken by government.
“Meeting the challenge of reducing every department’s emissions and embedded carbon is now very much the driver for change.”
Our task must be to work out how we can help clients to deliver more service for less cash and carbon and while using new ideas to create new businesses and new jobs. Sadly our industry is still lagging behind.
As Morrell put it, “you don’t look like an industry that has a plan for its future”. The automotive industry has an established 40 year plan for innovation and growth. The engineering and construction sector needs to do something similar.
This is why tackling this issue, and starting the conversations that will lead to actions, is critical. We will involve clients, consultants, contractors and suppliers to help the industry to form this vital plan.
To mirror the comment made consistently by Morrell since taking on his role in December, we must welcome anyone and anything that will improve this conversation. Please join in.
■ Antony Oliver is NCE’s editor