How to improve performance through collaboration

Patrick Theis, MD, Drees & Sommer

The Infrastructure Client Group has been outlining how introducing production management to construction can produce startling efficiencies. Patrick Theis of exponent Drees & Sommer explains.

We have known for some time that the traditional approach to managing construction projects limits communication and prevents the development of trust and team building between organisations involved in the delivery process.

The traditional approach follows the disciplinary hierarchy and separation of design and construction and assumes an unproblematic, linear process.  It leads to frequent project failures, a lack of commitment towards project management methods and a slow rate of performance improvement. 

Production management is becoming a more widely accepted approach for addressing these problems in the design and construction of projects.  Put simply, this approach has the goal of delivering value to customers whilst using less of everything. This is achieved by placing an emphasis on value generation and on the flow of processes in the context of conventional engineering and production. This approach identifies and removes waste, minimises variations, embraces uncertainty and promotes team work.

By implementing this simple system for planning and control, project teams can engage the whole team and improve performance by at least 20-30% across all of the measures of time, cost and quality. At a time when the UK is facing new challenges in developing its national infrastructure with limited resources, this alternative approach paves the way for making investments more affordable.

Owners and senior managers play a significant role in initiating and sustaining production management in design and construction. Since many organisations are involved at different stages of a project, there are multiple opportunities for them to be conflicted by their own organisations’ interests. This results in discrepancies in values and power differentials that result in both instability as well as problems in balancing the ends and means of a project.

"By implementing this simple system for planning and control, project teams can engage the whole team and improve performance by at least 20-30% across all of the measures of time, cost and quality."

Production management in design and construction requires a clear set of objectives for the delivery of the project supported from the top level. It also requires transparency of information at all interfaces in design and construction to facilitate the two-way communication between those interfaces, which is necessary for the creation of sound commitments.

Many different methods are used for production management each with its own processes and terminology. The common denominator of all of them however, is the three core principles of collaboration, transparency and continuous improvement.

The presenters will explain from their own experience, how methods for production management, daily work visualisation, collaboration, tracking materials through the supply chain and communication were successfully applied to projects across Europe. The presenters will also discuss what results were achieved and what lessons were learned for future implementation.

Experience from this case study and other projects suggest that the application of these methods, deliver significant improvements in predictability and productivity.

Patrick Theis is partner and managing director at Drees & Sommer;  this article was co written with senior consultant at Drees & Sommer Denise Brady.



Due to lack of confidence in most of the occasion we are suffering from different personal as well as professional problems like decrease in performance and many others. Especially in a professional field we used to improve our performance level to improve the opportunity for development; therefore we need strong leadership attitude and quality to develop our performance and apart from that we also need suitable guidance from different sources.