Construction organisations and strategy
Like organisations in any other industry, construction companies must have a strategy for how to grow and develop their business, compete effectively in the market, and remain viable for the long-term.
A company's mission is an enduring statement of purpose which can distinguish one organisation from other similar enterprises. It is considered as a declaration of the company's 'reason for being', a common management tool that addresses an organisation's theory of business, and helps form the basis of its corporate strategy.
An example of a construction company mission statement might be:
Objectives sitting under this mission might include:
- Securing and retaining clients and customers.
- Providing high quality services, products.
- Concern for survival.
- A particular company philosophy, such as social responsibility, ethics, sustainability, and so on.
- Concern for public image.
- Securing and retaining employees.
- A sustainable and efficient supply chain.
- Concern for employees health safety and wellbeing.
Strategies set out the fundamental steps or pathways that that will be followed to achieve objectives. They provide the formula for success, setting the direction and scope of an organisation over the short, medium and long-term and matching its resources to the changing market so as to meet stakeholder expectations.
Separate strategies may exist for different units of an organisation, as well as at different levels in a business unit.
For any strategy to be effective, it must have components addressing both middle level issues (such as production and marketing), and the upper level issues of integrating the whole organisation into its socio-economic environment.
 Departments in construction companies
To assist in achieving their objectives construction companies will generally organise their activities into a number of discrete functional areas:
- Financial policy.
- Investments and insurances.
- Cash requirements, supply of working capital.
- Shares register, and decisions on dividends.
- Cost control and accounting.
- Design, design management, design procurement and co-ordination.
- Production drawings and specifications.
- Site inspection.
- Estimating policy.
- Market research in relation to prices.
- Checking BoQs and estimates from subcontractors and suppliers.
- Preparing schedules of rates.
- Establishing the value of variations.
- Cost control, monitoring and reporting.
- Policy on stock holding.
- Managing orders.
- Delivery programmes.
- Stock control and reconciliation.
- Construction methods and procedures.
- Output standards.
- Construction programmes
- Method statements.
- Site layout and logistics.
- Working conditions and safety.
- Productivity and quality control.
- Site meetings and reporting.
- Managing plant availability.
- Policy on plant ownership.
- Policy on plant maintenance.
- Establishing / negotiating hire rates.
- Management of all the company's plant items.
- Personnel policy.
- Recruitment, interviews and promotion.
- Training schemes and executive development.
- Staff availability.
- Organisational structure.
- Motivation and incentive schemes.
- Staff appraisal.
- Brand development.
- Promotion and publicity.
- Exploring new market avenues.
- Market research.
 Office management
- Management of admin staff.
- Policy on office accommodation.
- Office layout and decoration.
- Forms design and office procedures.
- Safety and security.
- Contractual arrangements.
- Legal representation of company.
- Drawing up of contractual documents.
- Advice on conflict avoidance.
- IT strategy.
- Corporate infrastructure.
- End-user support.
Very broadly, construction companies comprise functional activity units (FAU) and interfaces. The arrangement of the FAUs and their interfaces give rise to the structure and culture that the company reflects. The arrangement also has important implications for the day-to-day operations of the company.
 Functional activity units
FAUs can be split as follows:
- Area of focus: Such as refurbishment for a design firm, or commercial development.
- Departments: Such as planning, estimating and purchasing for a contractor.
- Subsidiary: Such as a design and build subsidiary or a regional subsidiary for an international contractor.
Interfaces denote lines of communication and relationships between the FAUs. Generally, there are four types of interface that can be associated with a construction organisation:
A direct interface is characterised by the relationship between a superior and a subordinate. It involves the giving of instructions and the obligation to carry them out. This interface is often referred to as 'line relationship' because of its up-down-up lines of communication.
This type of interface arises between managers of equal standing in terms of authority. Lateral relationships exist between executives who report to a superior, but have to co-operate on issues of mutual interest, for which they have to co-ordinate related activities.
This form of interface occurs between a specialist who performs an advisory role and the rest of the management team. Authority for the functional interface is usually exercised indirectly through the line interface.
This form of relationship involves an auxiliary role. It derives its authority from the executive position for which it acts to provide a supporting function. Examples include special assistants and private secretaries.
 Organisational charts
Organisational charts are a graphical representation of an organisation's structure that presents the hierarchy of FAUs and their formal interfaces. The chart should outline the flow of authority and recognised lines of communication. The need to maintain a simple and coherent chart means that usually only managerial and supervisory roles are represented in a chart. However, notwithstanding the planned structure expressed by such a chart, an organisation may in practice be driven by a more informal structure.
 Types of construction companies
Geographically, construction companies can be local, regional, national or international. The different types of company can include:
- Sole traders.
- Unlimited companies.
- Limited companies.
- Private limited companies.
- Public limited companies.
- Holding companies and conglomerates.
For more information see Types of construction organisation.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Balance sheet.
- Building design and construction fees.
- Business administration.
- Business model.
- Business process outsourcing (BPO).
- Capital costs for construction projects.
- Cash flow forecast.
- Cash flow in construction.
- Company acquisitions in construction.
- Corporate finance.
- Corporate social responsibility in construction.
- Economic development and construction.
- Equity and loan capital.
- Human resource management in construction.
- Joint venture.
- Limited liability partnership.
- Property development finance.
- Relationship management.
- Special purpose vehicles.
- Types of construction organisation.
- Value added.
- Working capital.
Featured articles and news
Why buildings crack, how cracks are categorised and what can be done.
Inaugurated last week, the new Elbphilharmonie concert venue; a soaring new addition to Hamburg's skyline.
Summary of a new ICE Transport journal which says improving transport infrastructure is essential to eradicating global poverty.
BRE look at a new government report into the accuracy of heat meters.
Herzog & de Meuron get planning permission for revamp of Chelsea FC football stadium.
UK-GBC green paper proposes more powers for cities on new-build housing.
The Pompidou Centre – not a monument but an event.
The Chartered Institute of Building restructures and launches 29 new local hubs.
Designing Buildings Wiki talks to the founder of the world's first indoor biophilic gym, now open in London.
£1.3bn Swansea Bay project to be backed as a 'pathfinder' for other tidal lagoon projects.
Designs released for a proposed Las Vegas stadium to entice the Oakland Raiders.
Have a look at these award-winning concept designs for a thermal bath in Latvia.