How Lean concepts in construction are being used to significantly reduce risks and waste
The concept of risk is a broad concept in the construction sector, from health and safety risks on site to commercial risks – and, depending on the severity of both, a possible impact on overall reputational risk.
As with many other sectors, risk mitigation consists of a reduction of the probability that a risk will occur and, in the event that it does, a reduction on the impact that it will ultimately have.
The key to successful risk mitigation (and this is where the use of Lean concepts naturally comes in) is the understanding of the risk – where it could emanate from and also the root causes.
Once this insight is clearly mapped out, the strategy to mitigate the risks and causes of risk can be implemented. However, the construction sector factors in another set of issues, which complicate the organisation’s ability to operate in a Lean manner – the fact that almost all operate on a project-by-project basis.
The optimum risk mitigation strategy for a construction organisation is thus, to apply the process above, each time a new project is to be started…but if key staff have been developed to the necessary levels, this approach should not mean starting from scratch each time but rather evolved based on the new conditions faced; target customer, supply chain, location, build type etc.
The Lean mindset that needs to be in place to drive a situation of continuous improvement (the goal that should be at the heart of any Lean staff development) begins with the concept of looking at value from the customer’s perspective, on the premise that if a customer will not pay extra for a product or service, then it has no value.
A situation many in construction will no doubt have encountered several times in final account negotiations.
Another significant hurdle to developing a truly Lean, efficient culture that most face within the construction sector is managing the supply chain.
With subcontractors, equipment hire, transient staff etc, different parts of the supply chain have different weighting on where ‘client value’ sits….thus priorities and behaviours can often reflect that.
A Lean approach identifies these issues early and allows all stakeholders to voice their opinion through collaboration and within an integrated project delivery strategy, designed to identify value from the client’s perspective and also all the other stakeholders.
It further allows understanding of not only the risks to the project, but also the individual stakeholder’s risks.
The main difference between a Lean model and the traditional method would be the perspective of value as opposed to cost, as the cheapest cost does not necessarily offer the best value.
UK construction is notoriously one of the slowest sectors to acknowledge this point, thus providing significant opportunity to those organisations that do.
Our experience will get you there.
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