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23 MAR 2018

Sharing construction cost data – benefits, challenges and opportunities

In November 2017, RICS hosted three round tables with the objective of identifying the incentives for and barriers to sharing cost data. This insight paper tabulates the challenges and opportunities, and identifies seven key issues for further debate.

The Economist has called data the 'fourth factor of production'. Whatever your views on this, there is no doubt that data will play an increasing part in professional roles. In construction, an industry ripe for productivity and efficiency improvement, BIM and the internet of things promise a deluge of data. However, this raises many questions around security, privacy and the use of data for the public good, particularly in the use of, often confidential, cost data. As whole life performance becomes increasingly important, this issue is just not confined to capital costs.

Since the publication of the International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) in 2017, RICS has been attempting to identify the main incentives and barriers to sharing construction cost data.

In November 2017, RICS began conducting debates with clients, consultants and contractors to discuss the important opportunities and challenges surrounding cost data in construction.

The following questions were debated:

  1. What is the current state of cost data collection in the industry: is it satisfactory to clients, consultants and contractors?
  2. What are the benefits of collecting and collating costs in a consistent and transparent way, and providing access to the data to clients, contractors and cost professionals in a way which respects commercial sensitivities?
  3. In the light of the challenges above, what are the barriers?
  4. How might the barriers be overcome?
  5. Is the industry in general willing to accept, and are clients in particular willing to demand greater transparency in the way that prices are estimated and presented by contractors?
  6. What innovative ways may be available to facilitate the greater collection of cost data for the benefit of the industry as a whole?

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