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The ten most frequently asked questions





What is Integration and what is the Integration Toolkit?

Quite simply, integration means the introduction of working practices, methods and behaviours that create a culture in which individuals and organisations are able to work together efficiently and effectively. That means putting aside the fragmentation, duplication and adversarialism that has characterised the industry and replacing it with cooperation, collaboration and mutual support. This will enable the industry to focus on shared goals and objectives, leading to mutual benefit for individuals, organisations and society, but without undermining the ability to advance and compete by differentiation of skills, products and services.This integration is defined in two inclusive ways:

  • Firstly the assembly of chains of suppliers who rely on each others skills, products and capabilities to satisfy their own needs and those of their clients, and
  • secondly the application of these Integrated Supply Chains in the project environment as part of Integrated Project Teams; teams so well aligned they appear as if they were a single entity.

The Integration Toolkit is a pan-industry guide describing how to assemble these Integrated Supply Chains and how to achieve superior value through applying Integrated Project Team delivery. The Toolkit provides an introduction into the principles of integration. It helps individuals and organisations to gauge their cultural maturity, provides guidance and insight into how to change and offers pointers and signposts to tools and techniques successfully used by leading practitioners. It is an agenda and framework for change, but it is not a step-by-step instruction manual.


Why do we need the Integration Toolkit? Surely we have enough initiatives already?

Yes we do and in a sense that is precisely why we need the Integration Toolkit. Each initiative is a reflection of a different organisation’s desire to promote and support change. These initiatives are individually branded because people need to see there is ownership and leadership of the agenda for change at the highest levels. Unfortunately, this gives the impression that everyone is promoting and supporting something different. What the Toolkit does is to identify and explain the common principles underpinning many of those initiatives focussed on achieving integration and collaborative working, demonstrating that much of industry actually has a unified change agenda and clarifying what that agenda is.


How will the Strategic Forum for Construction make a difference?

The Strategic Forum for Construction is a cross-sector body that speaks on behalf of the whole industry without vested interest. Acting as custodians of the principles of integration as embodied in the Toolkit, it is able to freely share the best practice of everyone in the industry, for the benefit of all. By assembling and sharing best practice rapidly in this way, it is expected that genuinely sustained improvement can be achieved at all levels.


Where did the Integration Toolkit come from and who developed it?

The inspiration behind the Integration Toolkit initially stemmed from the positive findings of a number of leading industry programmes including Building Down Barriers (MOD), FUSION (Glaxo Wellcome), Heathrow Express (BAA), Pavement Programme (BAA), Procure 21 trials (NHS) and a number of M4i demonstration projects. The Integration Toolkit was subsequently conceived by a small group of leading edge practitioners seeking a way of joining up these experiences. Initially the group was drawn from M4i, BDB, FUSION and Be, latterly joined by COMPASS. As the Integration Toolkit developed, the knowledge and experience of others was sought through consultation and involvement until, at its peak, more than 60 individuals were actively involved in drafting and editing the content. All these people have willingly given their time and experience and have made their content and material freely available ensuring that the Strategic Forum for Construction can continue to hold the Toolkit in trust on behalf of us all.


With so much excellent content how do we decide where to begin?

In order to decide how to move forward you really need to understand where you are starting from. Assuming you have already looked at the introductory material, have run the audiovisual presentation and are aware of the differences between Integrated Supply Chains and Integrated Project Teams, it is recommended that that you undertake the “Maturity Assessment“. The Maturity Assessment is a tool which identifies key attributes of industry attitudes, behaviours, culture and organisation and illustrates how these change as the model of the industry evolves. Moving from the Historic (traditional), through a Transitional phase to the Aspirational, the Maturity Assessment shows what is needed to deliver the vision of a fully integrated world-class industry of the future. By undertaking the Assessment, you are able to identify key areas to incorporate into your own action plan for change, and establish your areas of focus for using the Integration Toolkit.


We are not regular players in the construction industry and find some of the content difficult to relate to, where can we go for help?

Many people fail to recognise just how complex and specialised construction activity can be. They wrongly assume that expertise in their own fields will easily translate to the construction environment. This often results in inappropriate methods and approaches being adopted or, worse still, partially adopted, leading to misunderstandings, poor outcomes, frustration and dissatisfaction. Entering the construction arena without a full understanding of the principles, attitudes and behaviours is always a high-risk enterprise. To do so now, as new concepts and methods are being introduced, only amplifies the risks. It is strongly recommended that assistance should be sought from professional advisors who are fully aware of the new ways and are appropriately trained and supported; assistance is available from Constructing Excellence Regional Centres and Best Practice Advisors


We fully support the principles outlined in the Integration Toolkit and are keen to become involved, what should we do?

The best way to get involved is to commit to taking part in a demonstration of one or more elements of the Integration Toolkit. This will provide your team with access to guidance and support from Constructing Excellence Best Practice Advisors who are familiar with the concepts, tools and techniques. Your Regional Centre can advise you about Best Practice Clubs and support networks, where you can meet and share experiences with like minded organisations and individuals. You can also seek training, coaching and mentoring by contacting the CITB National Construction College (Helpline 08457 336666) who have access to a nation wide list of organisations, groups and individuals able to offer these services.

  • Should you have, or are aware of, tools and techniques which would support and extend the Integration Toolkit, you can submit these to the ICW Toolkit Development Team for review and possible inclusion in a future release.


Who is using the Integration Toolkit?

Many leading client groups have confirmed that the Integration Toolkit is consistent with their change programmes and are fully supportive of the concepts and ideas being applied on their projects. This is echoed by their partners in all parts of the supply chain, including manufacturers, distributors, contractors, designers, specialists and advisors of all types and sizes. A number of teams have also come forward to undertake demonstration projects to help prove the concepts and develop the guidance. The Toolkit is also in the process of being adopted by leading construction insurers as a best-practice framework for policy-holders.


I understand that the Integration Toolkit is a summary of current best practice, how will it be kept up to date?

Members of the core team behind the original Toolkit development regularly reviewed both the feedback and recommendations from users, and the lessons learned in the demonstration projects.

  • Currently the Toolkit is being refreshed and monitored under a four-year Innovate UK project “Delivering more for less under the IPI model”.


OK, we have heard the hype, but we are doing alright working the way we always have, why should we change?

This is an agenda for industry change as defined by those who are actually doing it, freely sharing because they know that the best need a constant stream of new ideas to avoid complacency and stagnation and to maintain their competitive advantage. They are not interested in forcing everyone else to change. Leading exponents know that by embracing change they will become more efficient and more effective, able to enjoy a more fulfilling culture delivering better outcomes, superior value and increased profitability. Frankly, they are not worried about those who will not change, because they know that the real question is not “Why should we change?” but “Can we afford to be left behind?” for which their answer is a resounding “No!”
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