Biggest issue facing capital projects industry? Financing, especially for the public sector. P3's are a leading topic of discussion to assist with this. Also, optimized building operations, to fully utilize energy management systems and sustainable design.
As far as increasing profits, facility owners are squeezing contractors a lot in this economy, so increasing profits are tough. Owners need to realize that they cannot burn bridges with their design and construction teams, as the general belief is that the economy will improve in coming two years. If owners squeeze contractors so much now, that decreases future competitiveness (firms going out of business) and leaves contractors with the feeling that they will "make up" for losses in future projects. Gottcha!
When considering the basic project cost/influence curve, the fees paid to the design side are miniscule compared to the influence that design has on the ultimate life time operations of the building. Too often, project owners are near-sided on this point, looking only to lower first-costs without considering future costs. Paying architects and engineers the best fees for the best design will provide future costs benefits.
Strategies? I think a continued focus on effective cross-communications and collaboration is going to help everyone. The use of 4-D and 5-D BIM (better get on board with this!) will help in project predictability, and this transparency improves accountability and trust. The use of project information management/sharing tools and processes such as MySmartPlans, BIM, P3's, Partnering, Owner's Project Requirements, to get everyone around the same table, get everyone's needs out front. Anything that helps to facilitate sharing of information and smooth the plan/ design/construct/ operate process flow will decrease time and effort and decrease the waste of our most important resource, people. Improved, collaborative processes will decrease the "irritability" factor, and personal and organizational stress and burn-out, keeping us engaged and at our most productive in order to solve problems and create sustainable solutions.
There is a need for owners to encourage (demand?) improvements and help lead the evolving of our industry. There are many owners (plus designers and constructors) who are at the forefront of pushing our industry to transform, evolve and improve, but also, too many who are not providing enough leadership. This needs to change.
We can be a catalyst for more than change in just our industry.
Our industry can be a catalyst for change in our nation and world, in how we do business together: collaboration, partnerships, trust, communications, and shared solutions.
Carol Warkoczewski, AIA, MSOLE
Founder and Executive Director