Strategic forum urges construction firms to band together to offer framework-style savings to all clients.
Construction experts are urging firms to form "clusters" that specialise in particular types of buildings, such as hotels and offices.

The aim is to create one-stop shops for designing and building these projects that emulate the framework teams assembled by clients such as BAA and J Sainsbury.

The recommendation, discussed at a meeting of the strategic forum this week, is part of a drive to give occasional clients the Egan-style efficiencies that repeat clients are demanding.

Mike Roberts, chairman of the Confederation of Construction Clients and a member of the forum, said: "I'd urge the industry to start developing clusters – complete teams that are used to working with each other, are not adversarial and can meet the clients' brief. Continuity for these clients has got to come from the industry."

The forum will try to steer inexperienced clients, who account for half of construction spending, away from traditional procurement.

The chances of the traditional way of doing things bringing success are so low

Mike Roberts, chairman, CCC

Roberts said: "Most of that procurement is through an architect met on the golf course. The chances of the traditional way of doing things bringing success are so low. I would encourage them to seek out the cluster route."

He said the cluster concept, which assumes that a team works with a client from the outset to help establish the brief, was applicable to government departments and private clients.

Roberts added that clients needed to be re-educated: "If clients had made the same improvements as the supply chain, we would be in a much better state. If they don't start behaving in a consistent way, we will not be able to complete our major construction programmes."

Sir John Egan, who chairs the strategic forum, will promote the improvement of client skills when he becomes president of the CBI next year.