At the other end of the scale, the extent of dissatisfaction is clear, with 37 percent of M&E contractors awarding just one out of 10 - the worst possible score for satisfaction with timely release of retention monies (Figure 2). The M&E contractors believe that the practice of assigning retentions is unfair and a financial burden. One M&E contractor wrote: "Retention is very difficult to collect. Clients very rarely voluntarily pay retention money. It has to be continually chased, involving time and phone calls."
Even so, there is clear evidence that levels of client satisfaction with service in projects procured on a price-only basis are far lower (32 percent scoring eight or more) compared with those that are negotiated (70 percent scoring eight or more). It is likely that client expectations are higher in these arrangements, so the improvement is doubly impressive.
At a headline level, the greatest increase in improvement is in design, where the percentage of M&E contractors scoring eight or more for their design services has increased from 37 percent to 63 percent.
Can this improvement in performance be sustained? The latest KPI data reveal that while 82 percent of clients had assigned retentions, the timeliness of release of retention monies is the worst KPI measured by BSRIA. Only seven percent of M&E contractors (those asked to appraise the payment terms on their most recently completed project in 2005) gave satisfaction scores of eight or more.
All aspects of payment demonstrate great dissatisfaction. Although only one percent of respondents gave the worst score of one for accuracy of interim payments, only 26 percent of M&E contractors scored eight or more on their latest completed project.
Constructing Excellence and Accelerating Change challenged the industry to get closer to construction clients, to benchmark performance, and to raise standards. Perhaps it's time for the clients to reciprocate. Improving payment terms would be a great place to start.
For more information contact Business Improvement at BSRIA:
Tel: +44 (0) 1344 465600
or Email Business Improvement