Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Project 13 | Fixing construction

Istock 145848360 crop

This Spring the ICE-led Project 13 initiative that seeks to create a new delivery model for the infrastructure sector will move from talk to action.

In May this year, the ICE-led Project 13 initiative is going to publish something that it hopes will transform the way the civil engineering sector works forever.

Its “Blueprint for the Future” will offer organisations information about how their behaviours, processes and commercial arrangements will change when operating in a Project 13 world where performance is incentivised, and assessed on the delivery of agreed outcomes.  

Facing up to problems

Anglian Water director Dale Evans heads the initiative as chair of the Infrastructure Client Group. He is totally convinced that Project 13 is the way to go.

“Now is the time for our industry to face up to the problems our traditional approach to delivery and contracting has created, and to make a change,” he asserts. “The construction industry’s track record in productivity and reliability is unarguably behind other sectors.

“The recent collapse of Carillion, which has put thousands of jobs and a number of major infrastructure projects at risk, has shone a light on the health of contracting generally and demonstrated that our current delivery model is unsustainable,” he insists.

Clearly not all civils contractors are in the same financial ill-health as Carillion, and it would be hard to argue that Project 13 principles would have resolved its woes. But beyond that there are some unarguable challenges facing the sector.

Evans says these are:

  • Poor productivity, borne of a simplistic emphasis on reducing the capital cost of work and a lack of emphasis on delivering the outcomes customers want
  • The fact that construction is centred on negotiating project-by-project transactional deals that generate unsustainable returns with little opportunity for investment in skills and innovation
  • Increasing demands on the infrastructure system caused by population growth  
  • The significant disruption that digital transformation is set to bring.

Project 13, established by the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG) and the ICE is an industry-led response to these challenges. It identifies the need to move from the traditional transactional approach to one based on developing integrated and collaborative.

Now is the time for our industry to face up to the problems our traditional approach to delivery and contracting has created

There are some key features that differentiate this enterprise approach from previous initiatives, says Evans.

For a start, Project 13 focuses on customer outcomes. This, says Evans, ensures the voice of the customer is clearly articulated and investment is focused on its needs.

“Outcomes provide the starting point for engagement and creating alignment between the owners of infrastructure and the deliverers,” he says.

The Project 13 philosophy is also based on earlier engagement between infrastructure owners and integrated supply chain teams. Evans places emphasis on the word integrated here.

Integrated teams

“These integrated teams can then support the application of innovative technology and more productive methods of delivery, such as manufactured solutions, thereby enabling continuous improvements in productivity,” he says.    

Finally, says Evans, Project 13 will promote a more sustainable construction industry. It aims to change the business model connecting infrastructure owners and their supply chains to one that jointly incentivises performance; aligns reward with delivery of outcomes, not on volume of work done; and develops longer term collaborative relationships.

Most of this was set out in the formal launch of Project 13 last September, itself coming after a soft launch and over a year of preparation. Since then, Evans says the Project 13 team has been busy testing the concept.

Outcomes provide the starting point for engagement and creating alignment

“We have built a community of more than 300 individuals who are testing and developing tools that represent the best of this new approach,” says Evans. “This means we have representatives from over 120 organisations pooling their knowledge to develop a model that will change the way we do business.”

Evans is keen to stress that, while ICG members are overseeing this work, change must be owned and developed by the whole industry. “That is why we have adopted a community approach,” he says, “and why we have also brought together a panel of future leaders who are constantly reviewing our plan and ensuring that what we aim to deliver in May will be fit for purpose and fit for the future.”

It is also important that government is engaged and supportive, and Evans points to the prominence Project 13 was given before Christmas in both the Infrastructure Projects Authority’s Transforming Infrastructure Performance report and the Department for Transport’s Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy.

Project 13 website

So Evans sees reasons for spring 2018 to be a significant one. “Our Project 13 website will go live in May this year,” he says. “We are currently preparing a roadmap, blueprint and maturity assessment that will be available through the Project 13 website, enabling all parts of our industry to share the benefits of our work.

“These early successes are the foundation upon which we can build a new approach that will tackle our sector’s productivity problem,” he says.

  • Project 13’s Blueprint for the Future will be launched in May at the ICE. Join the Project 13 community by contacting

An industry-led response to infrastructure delivery models that do not only fail clients and their suppliers, they also fail the operators and users of  infrastructure systems and networks.

What is Project 13?

What does it set out to achieve?

To develop a new business model – based on an Enterprise, not on traditional transactional arrangements - to boost certainty and productivity in delivery, improve whole life outcomes in operation and support a more sustainable, innovative, highly skilled industry. This new model will provide better value for money for taxpayers and consumers who ultimately fund infrastructure investment.   

How is it different to what else is out there?

  • The infrastructure owner is central and leading the enterprise
  • The focus and reward mechanisms are based on outcomes and team performance
  • Suppliers have direct relationships with the owner
  • An integrator actively engaging and integrating all tiers of the supply chain
  • The key suppliers, owner, advisor and integrator all work as one team

So what happens next?

Suite of Project 13 products, tools and guidance – the Blueprint for the Future – will be launched on 1 May.



Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.