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News & opinion

22 MAY 2019

What does the next generation of cost management professionals look like?

As real estate and infrastructure spending reaches unprecedented levels across Canada, the requirement of a holistic cost consultant being a proactive and independent member of project teams is becoming the norm. But what makes our profession valuable to those teams? How are we embracing disruptive technology? And how are we addressing the gender imbalance in our profession?

In 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a major funding program to expand the country's roads, bridges, rail lines, social housing and other projects. In the most recent budget update, the plan was increased to roughly $190 billion, thus making it one of the largest infrastructure spending programs in Canadian history.

In addition, major program works by other entities such as the Greater Toronto Airport Authority and Metrolinx are well underway. The magnitude of investment leads to a multitude of challenges for the delivery partners, with cost, schedule and risk challenges being at the forefront.

As a profession we need to embrace the role of independent cost, schedule and risk management and provide project stakeholders with the independent, professional advice that will allow the programs to be delivered on time, on budget, and with appropriate risk transfer to the project partners.

In June 2016, a McKinsey report highlighted that the construction industry was second only to the agriculture and hunting industry as the least digitized. As a whole, the construction industry has historically been reluctant to embrace change, however we have seen a significant increase in the incorporation of disruptive technology principles within the projects that we are working on.

In order for firms in our industry to remain competitive, it is necessary to look at these innovative technologies and adjust our business offerings to ensure that we embrace their use. With the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) fast emerging in the construction industry, it is critical to continue to develop and integrate cost management systems with technology such as BIM.

In addition, as the emergence of artificial intelligence takes hold in our industry, we envision that our role in the industry will change in order to embrace this automation. The inherent value of our profession will be amplified by our ability to accurately interpret results and to apply our previous experience on similar projects to the situation in order to provide clients with the best advice.

Along with the need to embrace and utilize technology, we need to address the gender imbalance within the construction sector. As many studies have shown, there is incredible value in having a gender diverse workforce at all levels. We need to encourage more women to enter our field and mentor them to rise up within our organizations.

It is no secret that this gender imbalance exists within our sector and as a profession we need to be committed to increasing gender diversity and collaborating with each other to move the needle.

Darren Cash is a Director with Turner & Townsend, in charge of their cost management business in Toronto. He has over 15 years of experience in the construction industry throughout the UK, Middle East and Canada.

Darren is the current Chair of the RICS Ontario Chapter, a member of the RICS Canada Board and part of the RICS Global Professional Statement in Cost Prediction working group with publication of the Professional Statement scheduled for Q3 2019.

Darren Cash
Darren Cash

Quantity Surveying & construction

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