Give PIECC a chance

Yesterday I attended a workshop at Loughborough University to discuss Planning and Implementation of Effective Collaboration in Construction, the PIECC (pronounced ‘peace’) project.

The event was one of the final deliverables of a two-year, EPSRC-funded project run by Loughborough’s Mark Shelbourn and Dino Bouchlaghem (with industry involvement from Avanti, Arup, Buro Happold, Capita Symonds, Mott MacDonald and Taylor Woodrow Construction). According to the soon-to-be-published handbook, the “project has developed a decision-making framework to aid project team members to plan and implement collaborative working into their projects” (I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the PIECC handbook quotes the definition of ‘collaborative working’ that I developed in my book). The framework covers four key areas:

  • developing a joint business strategy
  • developing a collaboration brief for the project
  • guiding to the team to plan the solution to be introduced
  • providing guidance on implementing the solution

Despite my active interest in collaborative working and associated ICT issues, I only became aware of the PIECC project earlier this year (I am not the only one; I mentioned it last week to a couple of colleagues at the NCCTP marketing meeting and they also claimed no knowledge of it), and – despite the Avanti involvement – I don’t recall it being mentioned in any of Constructing Excellence meetings I have attended over the past couple of years.

I suspect my lack of awareness of PIECC will be shared by many others within the UK construction industry outside of the project’s partners. Indeed, at today’s workshop I did express the hope that some effort might yet be expended in raising awareness of PIECC and disseminating information about it.

It would be a shame if it disappeared or got forgotten. PIECC has some useful guidance on addressing some of the people and process issues that underpin successful collaboration (yet again, I found myself re-using the 80:20 people and processes v. technology rule of thumb I put forward in my book), and – in its support for the Avanti approach – it implicitly endorses the PIX Protocol, which I had a minor role in developing a couple of years ago. Perhaps its greatest value lies in the agenda it provides for teams wanting to organise and run a workshop to promote collaborative working.

In this respect, I suspect it will become another weapon in the arsenal employed by consultants promoting the Avanti approach, alongside the PIX Protocol, perhaps complementing existing toolkits, eg: the Office of Government Commerce’s Successful Delivery toolkit (published July 2003) and the associated procurement guide 05 (The Integrated Project Team: teamworking and partnering), and the Strategic Forum for Construction’s Integration Toolkit, published in late 2003.

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