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News & opinion

15 FEB 2019

Building trust is key to successful infrastructure projects

Anil Sawhney-RICS

Anil Sawhney FRICS

Director of Infrastructure

RICS

By adopting international construction measurement standards, governments can better plan and monitor projects and ensure value for money is being delivered.

High performing infrastructure is an enabler for growth, prosperity and the well-being of citizens. Even if infrastructure delivery is a priority for governments, there are often concerns about delays and transparency regarding infrastructure projects, programs and portfolios. That is why governments should insist that the International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) are followed.

There is an issue with the provisioning of accurate and timely project information to policymakers and government decision makers. Lack of accurate project budget information upfront, as well as project progress and cash flow data during execution, can cause distrust among key stakeholders in the infrastructure delivery value chain.

Some of this distrust stems from the absence of international standards in project management and commercial management of infrastructure projects. Without consistent and internationally-agreed upon industry standards, neither project sponsors nor owners can ensure that benchmarks are being met, and that best practices are being followed. Definitions and common practices differ across the country muddying contracts where they should be transparent. Moreover, data is not collected and reported in a standard, consistent and comparable form.

Standards that yield efficient project selection, project delivery, project control, reduction in life cycle costs, usable benchmarks and enhance asset performance must be adopted. Following ICMS is the first step in creating a seamless, global, hierarchy of construction cost classification that connects a high-level globally agreed cost structure to a granular, local cost measurement and classification system.

ICMS: why you should act

  • Lack of accurate project budget information, project progress and cash flow data during execution can cause distrust among key stakeholders.

  • International standards are necessary to ensure that benchmarks are being set and met, and best practices are being followed.

  • RICS, alongside a coalition of 47 professional organizations have developed ICMS to harmonize global cost reporting across markets, regions and sub-sectors.

ICMS was developed by a coalition of 47 professional bodies, including RICS, to harmonize global cost reporting across markets, regions and sub-sectors. By insisting project stakeholders adopt these transparent standards, governments can better monitor projects and ensure value for money is being delivered.

Since it was launched in July 2017, several keys public sector stakeholders (including the European Union, Highways England, and Infrastructure Ontario) have come forward in support of ICMS. A growing list of global and regional companies are adopting and implementing ICMS (a full list of ICMS partner organizations is available). In response to industry feedback following the publication of the first edition of ICMS, the ICMS Coalition have introduced and are seeking feedback on a second edition which incorporates life cycle costs. The second edition of ICMS proposes a structure for describing the life cycle costs of a project and the resulting constructed asset. Costs under the construction, renewal, operation, maintenance, and end-of-life cost categories will be included in this second edition of ICMS.

Standards yielding efficient project selection, project delivery, control, a reduction in life-cycle costs, usable benchmarks and enhance asset performance must be adopted.

Anil Sawhney
Director of Infrastructure, RICS

Communication, collaboration and coordination is key

A critical step in the successful delivery of a mega-project is stakeholder management, especially public engagement. If the public is fully informed and engaged from the start of a project, the project avoids political controversy and public distrust during construction and operation. RICS strongly encourages stakeholder management and provides professional guidance on stakeholder engagement.

Additionally, an informed infrastructure client can navigate these issues and provide the project leadership that is crucial in the delivery of large-scale projects through RICS' professional guidance for project owners.

By putting international standards in place and adopting efficient project delivery and commercial management models and systems, the sector can start accounting for the social value of infrastructure projects and assets, as well as provide a holistic appraisal of their impact on society. Incorporating social value into the analysis will help improve project selection and project formulation, leading to the improved operational performance of infrastructure assets.

The infrastructure sector can continue to enhance its output through the incorporation of education and qualifications standards, embedding ethics, and enhanced use of digital technologies.

Anil Sawhney-RICS

Anil Sawhney FRICS

Director of Infrastructure

RICS

Anil Sawhney is the Director of the Infrastructure Sector for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). He leads the emerging RICS initiative and strategy on placing and positioning the Institution within the field of commercial management of infrastructure projects globally. His primary focus is on the (economic) infrastructure sector, defined by the RICS as transport, utilities, energy and similar fields. Anil is involved in the production of infrastructure sector’s body of knowledge, standards, guidance, practice statements, education, and training. He’s also a Visiting Professor at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. Dr Sawhney is also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) of the UK. Anil has a rich mix of academic, research, industry and consulting experience gathered working in the USA, India, Canada, the UK, and Australia.

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