Anyone who has any doubts about the urgency to improve productivity in public sector infrastructure construction projects need look no further than the Crossrail project for proof that change is needed – and quickly.

The news that Crossrail faces a £2bn cost overrun on its original £14.8bn budget and the planned opening date of Autumn 2019, postponed from December 2018, is now no longer viable gives a depressing example of another major public project overrun to add to a long list that includes the Olympic Stadium, HS2, The Shard and Edinburgh Trams, to name just a few.

It highlights more than ever the need for the Government’s Transforming Innovation (TIP) and Performance initiative to make a meaningful impact in improving productivity in the sector.  TIP aims ultimately to lift productivity growth by the adoption of digital and manufacturing technologies and transitioning to new collaborative business models with better integrated supply chain models.

The new £600bn ten year infrastructure investment pipeline is anticipated to optimise the construction process from start to finish and the initiative aims to eventually deliver £15bn a year in productivity savings.

The programme is working to develop benchmarking and standards for projects as well as accelerating the use of modern methods of construction like offsite manufacturing and incorporating more use of digital technology and collaboration throughout the supply chain.

However, we need to recognise that it isn’t just the client’s responsibility to keep costs down and increase productivity. The key to achieving the aspirations of TIP is in releasing the expertise of the specialists in the supply chain through better collaboration and early contractual involvement. This would create the platform to adapt to better ways of working across the entire supply chain.

It’s clear that the UK economy and the construction sector is missing out on a significant amount of growth that could come from improved productivity. But it’s up to everyone in the supply chain to work together to overcome the barriers to change and deliver that improvement.