Four Areas Where Construction Project Management Software Can Reduce Partnership Disputes
"The top five causes of construction dispute revolve around a mistake or failure, which makes them all avoidable to varying degrees" - EC Harris, Global Construction Disputes Report 2013.
Communication is the watchword when it comes to successfully completing a construction project. From agreeing detailed schedules, through to maximising the benefits of any available resources, it’s vital to effectively communicate this information throughout each stage of the project life cycle.
Sadly many businesses still commence construction projects without having effective internal communication systems in place let alone external communications. In this presentation, we show how investing in construction management software can minimise conflict between firms and accelerate that all-important final retention release.
In an ideal world, construction projects would run like clockwork and never deviate from the original plans or schedules. However, variations are an inevitable fact of life. These amendments can significantly impact on the profitability of a project both positively or negatively.
Effective management and communication of these is essential to maximise the former whilst minimising the latter. From last-minute revisions through to stopgap subcontractors and substitute components all changes need to be communicated effectively to all the parties concerned.
Changes to budgets and schedules need to be logged in real time as part of a wider project overview, facilitating discussions about who bears the cost of delayed materials or whether specification cost-cutting really will save money in the long run.
"A long dispute means that both parties are wrong" – Voltaire
During construction of London’s iconic Shard, a legal dispute between two construction companies took three years to resolve and is estimated to have delayed the building’s construction by 42 days. By fully harnessing the communications facilities of construction project management software, it is possible to quickly settle issues that might otherwise take far longer to resolve in a court.
If a subcontractor agrees to advance their start date, for example, a note can be made in the software about who made that promise and when. That prevents any subsequent debate about what was agreed, eliminating any need for laborious detective work to prove the subcontractor’s promise was actually made.
Some companies still permit individual employees to maintain their own data islands. Valuable information ends up being locked away in spreadsheets on laptops rather than being shared with colleagues.
A single universally-accessible database of shared information is far more practical for avoiding duplicated information and passing on updates to relevant parties. This in turn means that potential conflicts can be highlighted and tackled in real time, rather than discovering the consequences to project profitability and client satisfaction levels further down the line.
Clients may try to hang onto retentions by claiming a project doesn’t meet the required specifications. If each detail of that specification is recorded in one universally-accessible location, it should be clear to everybody what is required to meet the brief.
Strict compliance with these specifications will help to expedite the release of a retention that may be worth more than the project’s entire profit margin.
To avoid disputes in your next construction project:
- Keep track of variations in real-time to ensure it’s clear what’s changed and why.
- Record all details of what has been agreed and by whom in construction project management software to avoid costly litigation.
- Do away with any data silos so that all information is available to everyone, all of the time.
- Create detailed specification sheets and the changes thereto to make sure retentions are fairly paid and on time.
Avoid communication breakdowns and make your company more efficient with a change in attitude and behaviour. Learn from the best in this guide: 7 Characteristics of Highly Efficient Construction Companies.
Environment Agency clamps down on plastic films and wraps
Businesses in the waste and construction industries must ensure they deal with waste plastic properly to stop illegal exports, the Environment Agency (EA) has warned.
The warning comes as the Agency is increasingly aware of plastic film and wrap from the construction and demolition sector being illegally exported.
Exports are frequently being classified as ‘green list’ waste of low risk to the environment, but are often contaminated with materials such as mud, sand, bricks and wood, posing a risk to the environment and human health overseas, and undermining legitimate businesses in the UK seeking to recover such waste properly.
During the last year, the EA has intercepted shipments to prevent the illegal export of this material on numerous occasions. The Agency inspected 1,889 containers at English ports and stopped 463 being illegally exported. This, combined with regulatory intervention upstream at sites, prevented the illegal export of nearly 23,000 tonnes of waste.
Those convicted of illegally exporting waste face an unlimited fine and a two-year jail sentence. But construction firms could also face enforcement action if contaminated construction and demolition waste plastic is illegally exported.
Malcolm Lythgo, Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency, said it is seeing a marked increase in the number of highly contaminated plastic film and wrap shipments from the construction and demolition industry being stopped by officers.
“I would strongly urge businesses to observe their legal responsibility to ensure waste is processed appropriately, so we can protect human health and the environment now and for future generations. It’s not enough just to give your waste to someone else - even a registered carrier. You need to know where your waste will ultimately end up to know it’s been handled properly. We want to work constructively with those in the construction and waste sectors so they can operate compliantly, but we will not hesitate to clamp down on those who show disregard for the environment and the law.”
There are a number of simple, practical steps that businesses can take to ensure that C&D site waste is handled legally.
Construction businesses should check what’s in their waste
- Different waste types need different treatments and so must be correctly categorised to ensure it goes to a site that is authorised to handle it safely. Businesses can also check if their waste is hazardous as different rules might apply.
- If you are removing the waste yourself, you must be a registered waste carrier- registration can be carried out here. When a waste collector is transporting your site waste, you must check they have a waste carrier’s licence from the EA.
- You must also check that the end destination site any waste is taken to is permitted to accept it and has the right authorisations in place. Keep a record of any waste that leaves your site by completing a waste transfer note or a consignment note for hazardous waste which record what and how much waste you have handed over and where it is going.
Waste management industry must adhere to export controls
- Contaminated C&D waste plastic - including low-density polyethylene (LDPE) wrap and film - must be exported with prior consent from the EA as well as competent authorities in transit and destination countries.
- Those involved in the export of such waste must ensure that it meets the requirements set under the relevant export controls, such as being almost free-from contamination; the destination sites are appropriately licensed to receive and treat the waste; and waste is correctly managed once received.
The EA will continue to actively target those who export contaminated C&D plastic waste illegally, including any accredited packaging exporters who issue Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) against such material in breach of their Conditions of Accreditation.
Businesses involved in the shipment of waste are required to take all necessary steps to ensure the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling.
Anyone with information regarding the illegal export of waste including C&D waste plastics can contact the EA’s Illegal Waste Exports team at: [email protected] or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website