Introducing the refreshed version of The Construction Playbook

Introducing the refreshed version  of The Construction Playbook
The Construction Playbook was initially published by the UK Cabinet Office in December 2020. Part of a series of government procurement ‘playbooks’, it was designed to help NEC users and other industry players improve the way UK government departments work with the construction industry, improving construction productivity, shortening building times and reducing wholelife costs.

As I mentioned in my last editorial, The Construction Playbook was updated in September 2022 in line with a commitment to update each playbook annually. This refresh was undertaken in collaboration with government departments, arms-length bodies and industry. 

It maintains the focus on the original 14 policies to improve the productivity of the sector, drive economic growth and continue to deliver value for money. NEC and its users played a key role in this refresh, supporting different workstreams and contributing to newly published guidance notes. The refresh is broadly centred around five key themes – which will be familiar to NEC users − to ensure the playbook remains fit for purpose. 


The playbook seeks to use digitisation in construction to become more efficient, and the update reflects the advances made in this area, for example, on information management and modern methods of construction. The updated playbook integrates digitisation into the supply chain with a focus on the role of client organisations and how clients themselves then incentivise the application of digital capabilities throughout the supply chain, via broader application of playbook principles.

The update includes revisions to existing wording to highlight key elements of the Modern Methods of Construction: Guidance note, the UK BIM Framework and Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure content on information interoperability. The refresh includes references to security and privacy considerations for infrastructure, flagging information security and data exchange by linking to the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s The Gemini Principles and The Digital, Data and Technology Playbook, joining up different sectors.


Sustainability already runs through The Construction Playbook, forming part of the consideration of the commercial process. The update aligns the playbook with changes to procurement policy since its original publication.

The updated playbook enables a more consistent approach to delivering higher quality and sustainable assets, and enables the embedding of a relevant whole-life approach to greenhouse gas emissions management, from the design phase across the life of projects and portfolios. The playbook updates point to useful standards and guidance on how to apply this such as whole-life carbon assessment tools.

Building safety

The new Building Safety Act (2022) is now referenced where appropriate and the guidance reflects the new checks and controls required for different building types. The updates also emphasise key building safety initiatives such as the BSI standards on competence and the Building a Safer Future charter.

The playbook also reflects changes to approval of the design and construction of buildings of at least 18 m tall. These must comply with all applicable building regulations as well as being approved by the Act’s building safety regulator, which is the building control authority.

Frameworks and contracts

The playbook now integrates with Constructing the Gold Standard: An independent review of public sector construction frameworks. This allows contracting authorities easily to identify frameworks that meet best practice and make use of the policies set out in the playbook. The focus of the update was incorporating and cross-referencing key elements of the review and how the standards will be implemented.

Updates throughout the playbook reflect recently published resources including Market, Supplier & Supply Chain Engagement in Construction: Guidance note and the Infrastructure and Project Authority’s Project/Programme Outcome Profile tool to advise contracting authorities how these resources are best utilised alongside the playbook. These resources will also help NEC users in project and programme approaches.

Contract management

The refresh seeks to highlight the importance of contract management, and to consider how to set up contracts that enable best practice contract management while avoiding being too prescriptive and restricting the actions of good contract managers. Capability and resources are as ever critical, and contract management needs to be addressed through these lenses. I am sure the relevant NEC accreditation course can support users here.

Guidance notes

As mentioned above, the playbook is supported by various guidance notes, which have also been updated to give contracting authorities and suppliers further detail on key areas. These are on modern methods of construction; longer term contracting; promoting net zero and sustainability; market, supplier and supply chain engagement; and recommendations from the framework review.

Industry leaders reaffirmed their commitment to and support of The Construction Playbook by re-signing the formal endorsement of the playbook through the ‘compact with industry’, so thank you to those that have been involved. 

To see the refreshed version of the Construction Playbook, click here.
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