Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Which construction procurement method is most popular?

This is a question that I am asked quite frequently. There are some surveys about this, too, but most of the stats are meaningless, because they sample such a very small proportion of the population. Given that there are literally hundreds of thousands of construction projects each year in the UK, sampling a few tens or even hundreds of them is never going to reveal much of a trend. Worse, the terms used to describe procurement routes are confusing and interchangeable. So you cannot even be sure that practitioners are ticking the correct boxes on the poorly-designed surveys that are used to ascertain these things. I do not think that it is a worthwhile exercise trying to figure out what is more or less popular. The reason I say this is that different procurement routes serve different purposes. To put it metaphorically, custard is not the same as gravy; it has a different function, even though both are sauces. Knowing whether custard or gravy is used more frequently is really not interesting or relevant. Construction projects are not all the same as each other, so it is more important to understand how to organize the work than it is to try to figure out what is more popular. It is also important to understand that the way that risks are allocated will vary along with the economic climate. Contractors will turn away risky business if they have plenty of work, but will take on high-risk contracts when they are hungry.

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Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom

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