IStructE Core Objective – 3.4 Commercial Awareness

Everything we do involves cost, but sometimes we can operate in a bit of a bubble where we don't consider the costs associated with what we're designing. The IStructE wants to see that you've got an appreciation for commercial issues relating to your work.

If you have an example of when current affairs have influenced prices on a project that you have been involved in then great, put that in. However you might not be able to think of any good examples you can use, so don't worry too much about this.

You may have worked with a quantity surveyor on a project to help them produce their bill of quantities. This may have been by extracting data from your 3D model for them to use. You may also have produced multiple structural options at scheme design stage, and had these costed in order to select the best option. Give an example of how you have altered your design to try to reduce cost on a project. This is all about managing the costs associated with your designs.

On the other side of the coin, you may have been involved in procuring work from others, and looking at their costs. Often contractors and subcontractors are required to competitively tender for work, and the winning bid will be selected based on a number of factors including cost. You may have been involved in that process, putting together a specification for site investigation or surveying work and receiving bids. You may have assessed the bids and made recommendations to the client, or sat on interview panels selecting the preferred bidder.

Finally there is managing cost within your own business, and in particular the costs associated with your project, versus the fees that you are earning for that work. This will undoubtedly be something that you have been aware of at times, and you may have been involved in putting together fee bids for projects, or working to manage costs on an ongoing project.

What to say in your final report:

  • Give any examples of commercial influences from external sources such as current affairs or taxation
  • Describe an example of how your design has been influenced by cost
  • Give an example of where you have been involved in project costing
  • Where you have been involved in procuring work from others describe how you considered cost in that work
  • Describe how you manage project costs within your company

What to put in your portfolio:

  • Bill of quantities you have produced
  • Quantity data from a 3D model you have used
  • Assessment of bids from other parties you have carried out
  • Documents controlling project cost in your company

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