Cost control is, arguably, the biggest failing in the construction and property sector. It’s not as simple as it sounds and encompasses the concepts of budgets, stakeholder commitments and forecasts. Fundamentally, if you don’t have a budget for something then you have no cost control.
Effective cost control starts right at the beginning of a project. When pricing a job, deep thinking is required upfront to understand and include every aspect of cost that could be attributed to the project so that there are no surprises down the track. Labour costs are a crucial part of the construction process that needs to be fully understood and factored in.
Ensuring teams are well equipped and appropriately resourced for a project comes from experience, and gaining this expertise requires training and mentoring.
“I believe there is a degree of generational wisdom that needs to be passed down. Whilst the ‘baby boomers’ are retiring rapidly, it’s important that younger generations are not thrown in the deep end too quickly,” says Taylor COO, Clive Wickham, “or that they’re asked to play a major role in cost control without being given enough practical experience, training or support.”
Taylor offers a cadet program to help build on the foundations of what is taught in university, in a hands-on and meaningful way. The program aims to provide the practical tools needed for estimating, design, planning, site management and project management (to name a few), and to effectively understand cost control.
Investing in our younger team members means they are better equipped to understand a scope of works. This places them in a better position to recommend practical solutions and really take ownership and accountability for their project roles. This training is crucial for long term success in the industry and it isn’t something that can be learned overnight.
Clive adds, “We train our teams to put the hard yards in, it takes time, patience and experience to fully comprehend all elements of a project.”
Trust in fellow team members is a huge success factor on any project, and trust is built over time. At Taylor, high retention rates within senior roles gives both management and clients great confidence that the right disciplines are being passed on to younger team members.
Taylor’s 25 year history, diverse portfolio and reputation for quality is a direct reflection of healthy cost control. It ensures positive results can be achieved on many large scale and complex projects, often delivered concurrently.
Communication and transparency are key in the cost control process. The industry as a whole requires online and readily available data in order to control costs accurately. At Taylor, our systems are well documented and proven over time. Suggested workflow improvements from the team are always encouraged and considered.
Teams need to be on the ball and notify of possible budget difficulties at predetermined periods within a construction program, to ensure corrective measures are put in place early to solve cost variances. Here, the training investment that goes into project cost control comes in to play. There is also a rigorous cost control process that all teams at Taylor go through, on a monthly basis, in project review meetings.
Following completion of every project, Taylor has also developed a thorough review process to ensure that lessons learned can be shared with other teams. This process helps us to drive continuous improvement, post completion. This, in turn, positively influences our high levels of repeat business – our clients understand that we are in partnership with them for the long term.
Taylor recently celebrated a 25 year milestone. Reflecting on past years, Clive notes, “From early on, our deliberate strategy was to work for select clients and invest in strong and personal relationships. It’s also been important that our clients are financially strong themselves. This strategy has allowed us to grow continually, to build on the strength of our balance sheet year-on-year and, ultimately, give our clients peace of mind.”
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