Why you should think about claims management on a construction project, even if you haven’t got a claim against you
Construction claims management is as much about prevention as it is about cure. Anyone who’s been in the construction industry long enough will tell you that, given how easy it is for changes to be made, timings to get off track and budgets to overrun.
Since you already know the broad parameters of the potentially inflammatory issues on a project before you start, it’s best to try to prevent them than pretend you might be the exception to the rule. Failing prevention, by monitoring projects and keeping an eagle eye out for potential claims through good document management systems and the presence of a claims expert, if/when claims notices do arise, you can handle them early and with any luck seek an amicable and constructive resolution.
That said, if you’ve been in the industry a while and know the typical areas of issue on a large project, why go to the expense of employing a claims management expert even if there’s no claim?
A different perspective
Any good leader always has someone by their side to offer a different perspective and make them think about situations from different angles. In the boardroom, that might be your Non-Executive Director or Chairman. On a construction project, the best person to have at your side could be the claims consultant who simply sees things differently to you. The idea of having a claims consultant sniffing around your project might seem a little underhand, or even as though it’s tempting fate. Certainly you are likely to have more potential issues brought to your attention with their presence.
However, that’s not a bad thing. Having a claims consultant on site from the start is all about identifying issues while they’re small and relatively inconsequential, so that they can be dealt with quickly and amicably. That way, you are likely to save money on resolving more serious issues, as well as the indirect savings of keeping a project on track and on time instead of being sidetracked or (horror of horrors) brought to a halt through a claim that escalates.
Dedicated communications and document management
The power of communication is always underestimated – not just on construction projects, but pretty much in any area of business except communications itself. The reality is that communication is usually where things go wrong in any field. Someone didn’t communicate, someone didn’t record information correctly or someone understood something completely different to what was being said. It’s all easily done, but with millions of £$£$£ at stake, it can be a pricey ‘oops’ moment.
It’s all well trying to handle this by having an impressive orator or good project manager in your team, but in reality the only way to keep track of communications and how they are being handled, is to have an efficient documentation system. For example, we use a dedicated cloud based project management system called QConZol. It has been tailored specifically for the construction industry and has been particularly successful on our projects in Thailand.
The system allows clients to save time and effort in finding, revising and approving documents, as well as PDF markup management for comment and consolidation, thus minimising time consuming administration and allowing you to focus your valuable time on the important matters at hand.
You’re prepared if things get nasty
The other reason to invest in claims management from the start of a project is as a contingency plan should things go south. We all hope that this isn’t the case, and that their presence wards off the spectre of a major dispute. However, sometimes these things are unavoidable, and when that happens it’s much easier to gather the information you need to present your side of the story, and show yourself to be in a strong position, if you don’t have to go raking back through information, statements, scenarios and communications to find evidence of what happened, why and on who’s watch. By showing yourself to be in a strong position, it is far more likely that the opposing party will want to resolve at mediation, which in turn is less costly and more likely to keep a project on track and working relationships intact than if a claim was drawn out over an extended period and went to arbitration and litigation.
If you would like to find out more about our claims management consultancy services contact us by following the link below.