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Monitoring M4I, KPI and best practice

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The Egan report envisaged that public and private sector clients as well as contractors would be involved in 'demonstration projects', exemplars of a more radical and considered approach to construction. The demonstration projects - there are nearly 200 of them - are intended to show how construction can become leaner and fitter. A full list can be obtained from www.m4i.org.

M4I is not necessarily glamourous. Among the great and the good, demonstration projects include schemes such as work to bnfl Silo B38, Barrow-in-Furness; re-sewerage and outfall in Whitby; manhole reinstatement on the A5036 in Sefton and the fit-out of McDonald's at the Dome. All of them, however, attempt to portray consensual ways of contracting.

One of the key themes of the architectural examples is the benefit of liaison between the architect and contractor. This flags up practical issues normally dealt with through design-build or two-stage selective tendering processes. A willingness to compromise, by all parties, is also fundamental to the success of partnering. While some architects may crave the cut and thrust of condemning work on site, it would be nice to think that it wouldn't have to come to that - though most reasonable architects know that already.

Indeed, most of the architects interviewed admitted that most of their 'innovative' approaches to their scheme would have been done anyway. What is new is the need to formalise of their experiences. As Sunand Prasad says, this is similar to the explosion in quality assurance a few years ago. 'By forcing ourselves to think consciously about our procedures, we are better placed to eliminate our less productive, or wasteful behaviour.'

Performance indicators

The M4I explains that clients of the construction industry want their projects delivered - on time, on budget, free from defects, efficiently, right first time, safely and by profitable companies. (The footnote to this last point states that: 'contractors' inability to make a profit was identified as a major reason for project cost and time over-runs in Sir Michael Latham's report'.) Furthermore, regular clients expect continuous improvements 'to achieve year-on-year reductions in project costs and reductions in project times'.

The purpose, therefore, of the key performance indicators (kpi's) is to enable measurement of project and organisational performance throughout the construction industry. The information is suitable for benchmarking purposes.

The M4I, kpi framework consists of seven main groups:

Time

Cost

Quality

Client satisfaction

Client changes

Business performance

Health and safety.

Within these groups, the kpi's have been developed to analyse either project or company performance, or both.

Project stages

The detr suggest that it may be necessary to adopt different interpretations to the most common systems of procurement, given the flexibility which may become available under partnering deals.

Five stages A-E have been identified to monitor the performance throughout the lifetime of a project.

By benchmarking at regular stages of a project, clients will be able to assess the suitability of potential suppliers and how they compare over time, and construction supply chain companies, including architects, will be able to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement.

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