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Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology

Construction sector performance measurement: Learning Lessons and finding opportunities. Case Study: UK Construction Sector

A recently released report, ‘Construction sector performance measurement: Learning Lessons and finding opportunities. Case Study: UK Construction Sector’, provides a short review of the sector-level performance assessment of the UK construction sector. The specific objectives of this report were to explore why performance is measured, how and what is measured, how the measurement system is implemented and how effective it has been. The case has a substantial focus on the “UK Industry Performance Report”, which has a 20-year history. The study also covers some recent developments and discussions on performance measurement for the UK construction sector.

The review (led by research team Eirini Konstantinou and Kristen MacAskill) highlights that current efforts to improve quality and efficiency in construction closely link back the late 1990s and the release of the “Rethinking Construction” report chaired by Sir John Egan. Rethinking Construction set out the need to establish an effective performance measurement framework for the construction sector, proposing specific indicators:  

  1. capital cost,
  2. construction time,
  3. predictability,
  4. defects,
  5. accidents,
  6. productivity, and
  7. turnover and profits.

In response to Rethinking Construction, the “KPI Report for the Minister for Construction” was published (in 2000) by the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions, for the Minister for Construction, proposing a more detailed framework.

Fast-forward to now, the Constructing Excellence platform, which was established in 2003 through a merger of other government task forces and best practice groups, remains a key partner for managing this framework and publishing annual reports of the sector’s performance.

If viewing effectiveness for driving change at sector-level, the stand-out KPI has been in the sector’s safety performance. The mean accident rate has dropped from 1354 incidences per 100,000 employees in 1999 to 399 in 2018, following a general downward trend throughout this time. However, the annual reporting only provides visibility of this trend, rather than the motivation for it. There is no doubt that the Government push for focusing on safety and to report performance was influential here.

Identifying clear success stories for other KPIs is less clear. The attempts to capture environmental performance data, however imperfect, may at least be providing a starting point for monitoring change and informing policy following more recent Government and societal focus on reducing carbon emissions.

This report is part of a research project conducted in collaboration with BRANZ, an independent research organisation in New Zealand, which aims to draw on international and cross-sectoral learnings to inform development of an effective construction sector performance measurement framework. The full findings of the collaborative study can be found here. Further information can be found, here.


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