One year on from the launch of Rethinking Construction, Sir John Egan gives his annual report.
Sir John Egan is delighted with the progress made by the larger construction firms and the public sector in implementing the recommendations of his Rethinking Construction report a year after its launch.

Speaking to Building, which is this week devoted to the Egan report, Sir John said: “I’d give very high marks to the companies I have seen implementing my report and I have to give very high marks to government as well.”

The BAA chief executive and MEPC chairman added: “This is about as much as I could have hoped to get. People are working on describing the improvements on their projects, and accepting the principle of measurement is a huge learning process. For my company, it has taken a number of years, so it is a huge step forward for the construction industry and its other clients to take this on board in a year.” But Sir John was less confident that small and medium-sized companies had assimilated the messages of Rethinking Construction. These include lean thinking, supply-chain management and continuous improvements in cost and speed.

He said: “I have attended some of the ‘teach-ins’ held by bigger companies and they were very impressive, but those are the only companies I can really speak for. But all the messages about managing the supply chain apply just as much at the smaller end of the construction industry, where there is even less margin for waste.”

Sir John said he now wants to see the industry step up measurement of its work further, and in particular, to monitor productivity and activity rates. He is also keen to see more computerisation of design. This would allow contractors to bid on the basis of a fully-defined brief, so reducing the risk of mispricing the contract. He also wants architects to provide more information about life-cycle cost of buildings, enabling contractors to give whole-life costs when bidding.

I’d give very high marks to the firms … and government in implementing my report

Sir John Egan

Meanwhile, the Movement for Innovation, set up in the wake of Rethinking Construction, is to develop a web site to act as the central point for all industry organisations that want best-practice information.

The site, to be called a virtual university, will offer links to databases of best-practice information supplied by contractors, specialists, training organisations, government agencies and universities. The idea for a “knowledge centre” was mooted in Sir John’s report, but according to Movement for Innovation chairman Alan Crane, an electronic centre was considered more practical than a library.

Crane said: “There is an ever growing volume of information, not just from demonstration projects but also from other people involved in bringing innovation to the industry.”