Senior partner Rob Smith says it is taking broader approach on schemes to avoid jobs going ‘haywire’

Cost consultant Davis Langdon is to overhaul the way it approaches work on projects, in the wake of severe delays and cost overruns on the Scottish parliament.

The company, which was part of the team that built the troubled £430m Holyrood building, has launched a 12-step process for its UK staff to adhere to while working on schemes (see below).

The approach, called DLivering Success, looks at broader questions such as the feasibility of schemes as a whole and whether the end product will match the client’s needs, rather than just specific costing issues.

Davis Langdon’s consultancy group developed the system over the past year. The system is being tested on live projects, and it was launched in front of a group of 60 key clients at its central London headquarters last week.

Senior partner Rob Smith said the firm had learned lessons from the Scottish parliament. He said: “The experience of that job and others got us to stand back and think about what the factors are that make a successful project.”

Smith said the firm had realised that simply providing a single service, such as traditional quantity surveying, was no longer sufficient to deliver a successful project.

He said: “You have to have proper definition. Holyrood was only finally defined virtually as it was finished. You might be the best QS on the planet, but if the job has gone haywire, then clients will only remember the problems.”

The Scottish parliament got us to think about what makes a successful project

Rob Smith, Davis Langdon

Smith said the process would ensure more consistency of working. He said: “We have to be more consistent about everything we do. If we do not [ensure] the rigour of the process we are in danger of resting on previous achievements. It’s not just a case of turning up, you have to worry about the minutiae.”

Smith added that the firm had learned to voice its opinions more strongly in future and, if necessary changes were not made, it would walk away from schemes. He said: “The next time we are in that position, we would be more forceful and forthright, in a constructive way.

“There have been big schemes we have worked on that have been even worse than Holyrood, in terms of clients changing themselves or the strategy. We have to be brave enough to say ‘this project is not for us’.”

Davis Langdon’s move came as the inquiry into the Scottish parliament building was formally closed by Lord Fraser, seven months after he delivered his verdict on what went wrong during construction.

Fraser had been waiting to see interviews with the scheme’s late architect Enric Miralles and the late first minister Donald Dewar in last month’s BBC Scotland documentary The Gathering Place, before closing his investigation.

Davis Langdon’s revised approach

  • Provide consistent approach to all projects

  • Encourage good practice among staff and clients

  • Enable structured reviews of projects

  • Identify poor performing projects and project recovery methods