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An Outlook on Quantity Surveying: Key Skills and Knowledge for the Next Generation

In 2021, numerous industries are in the midst of transformative change. While construction has long been regarded as a slow mover in the race toward digital transformation, new tools and techniques are moving the needle by addressing pain points and improving project outcomes.

The role of the quantity surveyor continues to evolve among these changes. Modern surveyors often have a wider scope of responsibilities and a more prominent role in project teams than they once did. Those preparing for a career in the field must develop a broad range of competencies and be willing to upskill according to industry evolution.

For this month’s blog post, we have covered some key quantity surveying skills and considerations for those pursuing a future in our field.

Studying the Core Competencies

Quantity surveying is a demanding and varied profession that requires a strong set of fundamental skills as well as accredited tertiary qualification.

As a baseline, quantity surveyors must possess advanced financial and numeracy skills, the ability to solve problems and think critically, excellent written and spoken communication, effective deadline management and much more. In the modern age, IT skills and the ability to learn new software quickly is also essential.

The ability to interpret and analyse data will likely become a core skill for quantity surveyors of the future. A QS is traditionally adept at gathering their own data, but we’re now seeing major consultancies using historical project data to their own advantage. On large projects, accumulated data can be used to make robust predictions that lead to shortened build duration, reduced costs and improved build quality.

Prospective surveyors should look to research the current usage of data analytics on major projects, because it’s likely these principles will play an integral role in our industry’s future.

Addressing the Collaboration Challenge

Speaking of data and collaboration, the uptake of Building Information Modelling continues to grow around the world as roadblocks are negotiated. 5D BIM (the addition of time and cost considerations within 3D models) can facilitate much improved collaboration for project teams, including engineers, architects and contractors, as well as quantity surveyors.

Compressed project schedules and remote working conditions mean that quantity surveyors are much more likely to work together in teams on projects. The common data environment of BIM makes this possible, with multiple surveyors able to tackle different estimating tasks at the same time within the same model.

In this configuration, it’s essential that quantity surveyors collaborate as effectively as possible with their colleagues and project teams. 5D BIM is useful for identifying clashes and potential oversights at an early stage, but it’s essential that standard practices are established and followed to ensure the job is completed as efficiently as possible. BIM best practice guidelines for different world regions are available online, and these can be a great reference point for trainee surveyors looking to understand their potential responsibilities on future BIM projects.

Learning Traditional Techniques

While the manual measurement techniques that were once the bedrock of quantity surveying are not so common anymore, it is vital that these fundamental skills continue to be fostered.

Paper plans, scale rulers and highlighters still have their place in a modern QS repertoire. Manual measurement is often required at early project planning stages when establishing feasibility, or else to validate results at different points in the process.

It’s essential that these techniques do not become a lost art, as they can be a useful supplement to modern software, provide much-needed context to digital estimating processes, and may be helpful when collaborating with experienced surveyors. Universities still teach manual measurement as part of QS training, and successful professionals will continue to develop their skills once out in the workforce.

Upholding Ethical and Professional Standards

Conducting oneself according to solid moral principles is vital as a quantity surveyor, considering the broad range of stakeholders involved and responsibility to the public. In an industry that is striving to boost productivity and unlock its potential, it is very important that everyone involved in a project is pulling in the same direction.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) sets out five ethical standards that RICS professionals worldwide must adhere to, namely:

    1. Act with integrity.
    2. Always provide a high standard of service.
    3. Act in a way that promotes trust in the profession.
    4. Treat others with respect.
    5. Take responsibility.

These guidelines are explored in more detail here. As surveyors become more involved in project management processes, the significance of these standards will likely increase in years to come.

Future-Proof Your Software Suite With iTWO costX®

Quantity surveyors looking to invest in an all-in-one solution for takeoff and estimating must consider iTWO costX® by RIB.

Our 5D BIM platform is the software of choice for leading QS professionals worldwide, with users in 90+ countries. iTWO costX® is constantly developed to meet industry requirements, so you can be confident you’re investing in a solution for years to come.

If you’d like to learn more about how iTWO costX® can help you to build your quantity surveying skills, feel free to contact your local RIB office today!