Globally trusted infrastructure consulting firm AECOM is launching the 34th edition of its highly anticipated and well respected ‘Africa Cost Guide: Property & Construction 2023/24’. “It is something we are very proud of indeed. The industry at large anticipates the release of this document every year,” comments Herman Berry, Director, Programme Cost Consultancy (PCC), Africa.
Described as an institutional tool for the broader built environment, the guide is endorsed and disseminated by key associations such as the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS). “At AECOM, we are dedicated to delivering excellence and continuously look to enhance this valuable tool,” says Herman.
In his foreword to the guide, Herman highlights that the South African economy has encountered various disruptions on both global and local fronts. To counter such uncertainty and volatility, AECOM’s ‘Think and Act Globally’ strategy sets a new standard of excellence in the professional services industry.
The strategy is focused on extending the company’s industry-leading expertise to each of its global projects, transforming the way it delivers work through technology and digital platforms, and enhancing its position as a leading Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) company.
In terms of trends highlighted by the latest guide, there is a major discussion in the industry at the moment concerning the role of Building Information Management (BIM), reveals Yvonne Bosch, Associate QS at AECOM.
“The main issue is how we integrate different parts of the construction programme into one global system. AECOM prides itself in being able to deliver and work in this new integrated, multidisciplinary fashion driven by rapid advances in technology,” says Yvonne.
Another strong theme in the guide is the growing importance of ESG goals in the industry. Sustainalytics, a provider of ESG research, ratings and data, has ranked AECOM 12 out of 307 in the industry group for construction and engineering in terms of ESG.
Last year saw Estia Cronje appointed as PCC Technical Director for AECOM’s Centurion head office, servicing the Gauteng region. “AECOM has been proactive to address any potential challenges in the broader industry. Our track record of delivering complex projects is testament to our ability to manage change effectively. I believe this will be the same moving forward,” says Estia.
Commenting on the ongoing transformation of the PCC team, Herman says: “Being part of a large organisation with depth and having experienced people who can step up and have been with the business for a long period makes these transitions much easier.”
One sector that has struggled since the Covid-19 pandemic has been the commercial office sector. However, the focus of the PCC team in the commercial space has changed from large new office buildings to delivering cost consulting services tailored for a rapidly changing tenant environment.
“There has been such a large number of tenant movements over the last year-and-a-half since the working from home phenomenon began due to the pandemic, specifically in the commercial office market. Even though there is not much growth in that market, there is still an appetite for the type of services that we deliver,” says Herman.
A change in the industry that Herman is advocating for is a bigger role for the QS to play in the public sector. He points out that the QS is typically excluded from any bids or opportunities in public civil infrastructure investment.
“The engineer is typically responsible for the design, procurement, contract administration and cost management components on civil infrastructure projects. We believe that the QS can contribute more to project rollout and procurement, for example. That is definitely going to be a focus area for AECOM. Moving forward, we are looking at an integrated multidisciplinary service where the cost management aspect supports our engineering offering. Such a development bodes well, specifically on the back of the larger infrastructure projects on our books and in the pipeline,” says Herman.
“There is a core need for the QS society to play a larger role in infrastructure investment and development in South Africa. The size and magnitude of infrastructure projects is significant compared to the commercial sector. Hence it is even more important to get the budgets right and ensure due process in terms of cost management and control,” says Herman.
He concludes: “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our valued clients for their unwavering support. These client relationships hold immense significance for us, and we are wholly dedicated to nurturing and strengthening them. As we progress, our team eagerly looks forward to continuing our role as trusted advisors, forging meaningful connections and collaborating closely.”