Quantity Surveyors



The topicality of value management is accentuated by the fact that clients are increasingly insistent that value management should be applied to their construction projects. The concept of value management is still a relatively new concept in Sri Lanka, is undoubtedly in the process of finding a niche in the construction industry in South Africa and is already being applied successfully in the construction industry in Australia and New Zealand.

The ten key skills which are considered to be an essential part of the South African value manager’s arsenal of competencies and which have already been identified in a previous study were used to compare the competency profiles of quantity surveyors in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka. Keywords : Value management skills, Quantity surveying competencies


There has been an enormous increase in the understanding and appreciation of the client’s perception of value. This increase applies to the construction industry as well as to other industries. Value is a fundamental consideration for the client as it implies more than the initial cost or the lowest cost. In fact, it places cost within a framework of other value criteria (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors,1984), (Van Staden, 1991), (VM Services, 1992).

In addition to cost and value criteria, the criteria of functionality are addressed in value management. Value management can, therefore, make an important contribution by way of adding value to a construction project (City of New York, 1993). Value management comprises new techniques that are not yet as entrenched as those techniques related to financing, research, development and other administrative functions (May, 1994), McGeorge & Palmer,1997), (Van Staden, 1991), (VM Services, 1992). The skills that the value manager should have at his/her disposal in order to apply these new techniques successfully are regarded as one of the important conditions.

1. Department of Construction Economics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

2. School of Construction, Property and Planning, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

3. School of Construction, UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. ** Author to whom correspondence should be addressed Should quantity surveyors want to render a value management service, they ought to take cognisance of changing client requirements (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 1984). Quantity surveyors shall have to become synonymous with the rendering of comprehensive cost and management services that are considered to be the sine qua non of ensuring “value for money” for their clients. To achieve this goal, the services rendered by quantity surveyors should be improved and extended. Kelly and Male (1988) state this position as follows:

The slow demise of the traditional functions of the quantity surveyor has led to a search for new opportunities … provides a valuable insight into potential integration of value management into quantity surveying practice. For purposes of determining the key skills that a value manager should have and to answer the question of how quantity surveyors in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka match the ideal profile of a value manager, comprehensive studies were undertaken and a sample of quantity surveyors in the said countries were subjected to diagnostic tests.

Skills profile of a value manager

Following in-depth discussions with specialists in the field of psycho diagnostics, management consultancy and human resources and having considered a large variety of diagnostic instruments, it was decided to use the Potential Index Battery (PIB), a series of diagnostic instruments developed by Erasmus and Minnaar over a period of more than 20 years (Erasmus and Minnaar, 1996). Empirical research and experience have proved these instruments to be relatively culture free. The instruments used in this part of the investigation were provided through the courtesy of Potential Index Associates cc.

The battery of instruments comprises an extensive questionnaire, the Comprehensive Structured Interviewing for Potential (CSIP), in which 65 generic skills, that are present to a greater or lesser extent in any position, are briefly described. This list of skills was compiled with the assistance of the National Productivity Institute in South Africa and is directed at the identification of eight to ten skills which are key or critical components of a particular post. The list is generally submitted to a panel of five to eight specialists, who are familiar with the content and requirements of the post, with the instruction to identify the relevant eight to ten key skills.

To identify the key skills from the list, in this instance, a panel of assessors was selected from a population considered to be the most knowledgeable persons in value management in South Africa, and consisted of one expert from a facilitating company, three from the manufacturing industry, three from the construction industry and three quantity surveyors. The result of their assessment, accompanied by a brief definition of each skill, is set out (in rank order) hereunder:

* Creativity: The competency to develop new ideas and to create concepts and solutions to problems.

* Mental alertness: The competency to understand and appreciate new and often complex issues and concepts clearly.

* Leadership (Transformational): Channelling strategic direction from the top; developing a clear vision of desirable conditions to provide direction in terms of action; building common ownership of commitment to group goals / a shared vision by involving team members in visioning, decision-making, problem-solving and management.

* Listening skills: The competency to listen and understand clearly and objectively what the real meaning/impact/importance is of verbally conveyed information.

* Conflict management/Collaboration: Conflict management – The extent to which the incumbent should reflect conflict management styles in initiating and managing acceptable solutions and outcomes to conflict solutions. Collaboration – Collaborate for a solution that is acceptable to both parties.

* Social style (Expressive): To be socially responsive; to think on one’s feet; to reflect vision; to be able to put one’s case verbally and to inspire; to be enthusiastic and to promote enthusiasm and spontaneity; to be very adaptable; to be open-minded.

* Innovation: Being open to the ideas of others; initiating change; improvising or modifying existing ideas and showing a willingness to experiment in order to ensure ongoing improvement.

* Adaptability: The competency to appreciate and consider other and often opposing views; to adapt to new ideas (change) when required.

* (Self-)motivation (Locus of control): The drive to achieve/persevere; to strive toward definite goals/ends; to take appropriate steps of his/her own record.

* Abstract reasoning: The competency to foresee/imagine/reason and to initiate workable and applicable concepts and conclusions through the application of imaginative ideas. From the above listed ten skills, the ideal characteristics of a value manager were summarized with the assistance of Roode, of the organization Roode Personnel Evaluation (Pty) Ltd., as follows:

* The person can generally be described as someone who has above-average intellectual abilities; and is capable of thinking conceptually and of relating theoretical system and systemic variables in a holistic context. He/she will constantly want to see and understand the “larger picture” and will decidedly not get bogged down in insignificant detail.

* The thought patterns of the person concerned can be described as “lateral and creative”. He/she will remain vigilant to identify the unexpected relationship between elements. He/she therefore have to be acutely attuned to the external world; be open to the exceptional; and have an above-average directedness towards the behaviour and actions of other people and to any information that they may offer. When the expected does not occur, he/she will probably reveal a flexible attitude and be prepared to make adaptations, possible even taking a direction which he/she could no have foreseen.

* The source of his/her motivation will mainly be within himself/herself or – in psychological parlance – he/she will have an “internal locus of control”. This implies that he/she will consider himself/herself to be a person who should initiate action, maintain it and accept responsibility and liability if it does not take the desired course. Such a person can be functionally efficient without encouragement, praise, acceptance or bonus.

External sources may exist, but his/her motivation mainly emanates from own satisfaction, values and needs. Consequently he/she is a “self-starter”.

* His/her thinking will be innovative and original. He/she will approach the possible solutions to problems constructively and as challenges and when he/she comes into conflict with others, he/she will mainly deal with it in a co-operative way (win/win). He/she will focus on the problem and its solution and not on the person, cause or result of the problem. When he/she fulfils a managerial function, his/her style will be sharply focused on “transformational”, in contrast to “transactional”, aspects. This implies that he/she will have a vision for the future, will know where he/she wants to take his/her organization, department or team and will know how to get them to identify with his/her vision and to get them to identify with it. He/she will, however, deal with the day-to-day operational aspects, but would rather delegate them and take charge of the matters that are important for leading his/her group from point A to point B in a visible way.

It is generally known that the skill to facilitate is probably the most important expertise that a successful value manager has. Although facilitation has not been included independently in the list of 65 generic skills, it is clear that the ability to facilitate is inextricable interwoven with all ten the identified key skills of the value manager.

Competency profile

To answer the question of how quantity surveyors in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka match the ideal profile of a value manager and how they compare, the following investigations were undertaken (Visser,1998) :

1. By using the measurement section of the PIB, the identified key skills were subjected to diagnostic evaluation. The PIB is available at various levels of complexity to provide for the widest possible spectrum of scholastic and cultural diversity. For the purposes of this investigation the advanced PIB and the extended PIB were used.

Because the ten identified key skills are probably unique to the individual concerned and not related to geographical region, and for practical reasons, only quantity surveyors in the Pretoria area in South Africa, Auckland in New Zealand, Sydney in Australia and Colombo in Sri Lanka were invited to participate in the empirical testing. The result of this investigation should therefore not differ to a statistically significant extent from the results that would have been obtained from a random sample of quantity surveyors drawn from a countrywide population.

The composition of the quantity surveyors which accepted the invitation to be tested in each country were as follows:

The members of the selected panels were furthermore evenly spread in level of experience, ranging between twenty-four and sixty years of age. The tests were taken on a specific day in one venue in each country. The results were analysed to determine whether the “average” quantity surveyor in each country could offer value management as a professional service and by doing so, identify the difference in the competency profile of the “average” quantity surveyor in the different countries (cf. table 1).

2. The members of the selected panel of quantity surveyors, who participated in the skills tests, were also requested to complete a questionnaire which contained a brief definition of each of the ten identified key skills. The instruction was firstly, to determine whether they consider themselves less so or more so than the “average” quantity surveyor and then decide whether they are slightly, significantly or much less or more so. The purpose thereof was to determine the perception that quantity surveyors have of the level of their skills in respect of the ten key skills of a value manager (cf. table 2).

Table 2 indicates that the perception that quantity surveyors have of the average level of their own skills in respect of the ten key skills of a value manager, with the exception of Sri Lanka, is much higher than indicated by the summarized results of the structured skills tests (cf. table 1).

Table 1 indicates the results of the skills tests and should, however, be accorded a greater value because they are based on actual tests and not merely on perceptions. The method of testing, where applicable, and the comparative results are discussed hereinafter for each of the key skills.

* Creativity

* Mental alertness

* Leadership: Transformational

* Listening skills

* Conflict management: Collaborate

The Roode Effective Conflict Resolution Test was used to obtain an indication of the preferential style of individuals in conflict situation as well as how effectively the style is applied. The test comprises 15 hypothetical conflict situations with a choice of five styles for each situation. These five choices are representative of the five recognised ways in which conflict can be resolved, namely competition, compromise, negotiation/cooperation, avoidance and accommodation.

If a person chooses the most appropriate style for a particular situation, a score of +2 is allocated to the response, +1 is allocated for an appropriate response in cases in which there is a better alternative, 0 for a neutral response that will not lead to seriously negative or positive outcomes, -1 for an inappropriate response where there is a poorer alternative and –2 for a totally inappropriate response. In this way the preference lists as well as the relative effectiveness thereof could be determined.

The square in the middle of the cube in figures 1 to 4 indicates the number of preferred choices that were expressed for each of the conflict management styles. It is clear that the negotiation style, with 125 and 84 choices, and the compromise style, with 47 and 31 choices respectively, are the two preferred styles for quantity surveyors in South Africa and New Zealand (cf. figures 1 and 2 respectively) and the negotiation style, with 112 and 79 choices, and avoidant style, with 45 and 34 choices respectively, are the two preferred styles for quantity surveyors in Australia and Sri Lanka (cf. figures 3 and 4 respectively). The square on the right-hand side indicates that the negotiation and compromise styles, with scores of respectively +56 and +60, +50 and +41, +51 and +39, and +48 and +30, were the most effective styles for all the quantity surveyors. The range of scores furthermore indicates that, except for South Africa, the negotiation style was chosen as the most effective style. The left-hand square contains the number of ineffective choices and indicates that the competitive style for quantity surveyors in South Africa and Sri Lanka and the accommodative and avoidant styles for quantity surveyors in New Zealand and Australia respectively, run the greatest risk of being applied incorrectly and ineffectively.

It is therefore clear that if the “average” quantity surveyor has to deal with conflict, his or her preferred style will be collaborative and the co-operation/negotiation style will be applied the most successful as well. The strong effective application of the compromise style usually strengthens the potential effectiveness of a negotiation/co-operation approach and should be considered to be a positive element in the profile of the group of quantity surveyors that was tested. The overall average effectiveness on a scale of 0 to +30 is +8.2, +11.0, +8.0 and +6.8 respectively.

It must be noted that one quantity surveyor in Sri Lanka completed the test incorrectly and the test was therefore ignored.

* Social style: Expressive

The overall results indicate the social style of the quantity surveyors in terms of four categories, namely being an extrovert, a supporter, a driver and an analyser. It can be deduced from figure 5 that the social style of the “average” quantity surveyor in the different countries is as follows:

For practical reasons only the totals of the results have been summarized on the outside of the figure.

* Innovation

* Adaptability

* (Self-) motivation

* Abstract reasoning


The abovementioned results indicate that when the skills profile of quantity surveyors is matched against that of the key skills required for value management, their skills profile is generally found to be average in South Africa and between average and above average in New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka.

It should, however, be borne in mind that the results are based on an average and that there were individual quantity surveyors whose skills profile closely matched the defined profile for a value manager.


On the basis of the above results it can be stated that the extent of the match between the skills profile of the quantity surveyor and that for a value manager is between average and above average, but that, as a result of their background and training, some quantity surveyors do have the potential to be a successful value manager. Quantity surveyors do have the opportunity to acquire the technique of value management and the required skills to enable them to render a value service to clients.

Further research can be done by awarding certain weighting values to the key skills in order to test and compare quantity surveyors with each other and to broaden the study to include other professionals in the construction industry such as architects, engineers and construction managers.


City of New York (1993) Value Engineering: What It Is and How It Helps OMB, Office of Management & Budget Institute, New York. Dell’isola, A.J. (1988) Value Engineering in the Construction Industry, Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, Washington.

Erasmus, P.F. and Minnaar, G.G. (1996) Structured Interviewing for Potential Comprehensive Job Specification Index, Potential Index Associates cc., Rnata Joint Australia/New Zealand Standards Committee OB/6 (1994) Australian/New Zealand Standard: Value Management – AS/NZS 4183: 1994, Australia/New Zealand: Joint Australia/New Zealand Standards Committee.

Keel, D., Douglas, I., Coleman, M. and Brooks, K. (1994) A Study of Value Management and Quantity Surveying Practice, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London. Kelly, J.R. and Male, S. (1988) A Study of Value Management and Quantity Surveying Practice, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London. Kelly, J.R. and Male, S. (1991) The Practice of Value management: Enhancing Value or Cutting

Cost?, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London. May, S.C. (1994) Value Engineering and Value Management, The College of Estate Management, London. McGeorge, D. and Palmer, A. (1997) Construction Management - New Directions, Blackwell Science Ltd., Oxford. Norton, B.R. and McElligott, W.C. (1995) Value Management in Construction A Practical Guide, Macmillan Press Ltd., London.

Palmer, A.C. (1992) An investigative study of value engineering in the United States of America and its relationship to United Kingdom cost control procedures, Unpublished PhD thesis, Loughborough University of Technology. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (1984) A Study of Quantity Surveying Practice and Client Demand, London.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (1991) Quantity Surveying 2000: The Future Role of the Chartered Quantity Surveyor, London. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (1992) The Core Skills and Knowledge Base of the Quantity Surveyor, London. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (1995) Improving Value for Money in Construction: Guidance for Chartered Surveyors and Their Clients, London.

Van Staten, M.H.J. (1991) The Development of a Managerial and training Model for the successful implementation of value management, with special reference to the South African situation, Unpublished PhD thesis, University of the Witwatersrand. Visser, R.N. (1998) The Potential Role of the Quantity Surveyor in Value management in the Construction Industry in the Republic of South Africa, Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Pretoria.

VM Services (Pty.) Ltd. (1992) Innovative Decision Thinking through Value Management, Rivonia. Zimmerman L.W. and hart, G.D. (1982) Value Engineering – A Practical Approach for Owners, Designers and Contractors, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York.

Creativity 2.7631  4.9583  4.6813 5.1500
Mental alertness  3.6842  5.6000  5.3375 5.2000
Leadership : Transformational  2.4608  2.2750  2.0563  2.0400
Listening skills 4.4825   3.8182  3.6400 3.9846
Conflict management : Collaborate * * * *
Social style : Expressive * * * *
Innovation 4.8632 3.9783 3.9813 3.9300
Adaptability 2.9474 4.6667 4.0000 3.9846
Self-motivation 3.7456 4.5500 4.7250  4.3500
Abstract reasoning 4.4211 4.2000  3.5875 3.7000
Total average 3.6710 4.2558 4.0011   4.0424


 Table 1 : Competency profile of quantity surveyors (Structured skills tests) : Key skills of the value manager

Creativity 5.1579 5.0833 5.5000 3.7143
Mental alertness 5.3158 5.3333 5.4375 4.9286
Leadership : Transformational 4.6667 5.0833 5.1875 4.5000
Listening skills 4.4737 5.7500 5.0000 3.8571
Conflict management : Collaborate 5.1053 5.8333 5.0625 4.2857
Social style : Expressive 5.2105 5.0000 5.1250 4.1429
Innovation 5.2632 5.1667 5.5000 4.2857
Adaptability 5.1053 5.8333 5.6250 3.9286
Self-motivation 5.6842 5.6667 5.6250 4.1429
Abstract reasoning 5.0526 5.1667 5.6250 4.2857
Total average 5.1036 5.3916 5.3688 4.2072


Table 2 : Competency profile of quantity surveyors (Questionnaire) : Key skills of the value manager

Roode: Effective Conflict Resolution Index

Figure 1: South Africa (SA) – Effective conflict resolution index of quantity surveyors

Roode: Effective Conflict Resolution Index

Figure 2: New Zealand (NZ) – Effective conflict resolution index of quantity surveyors

Roode: Effective Conflict Resolution Index

Figure 3: Australia (AUS) – Effective conflict resolution index of quantity surveyors

Roode: Effective Conflict Resolution Index

Figure 4: Sri Lanka (SL) – Effective conflict resolution index of quantity surveyors

SA=45 SA=66




SL=28 SL=34

SA=65 SA=62
NZ=19 NZ=41
AUS=16 AUS=32
SL=21 SL=30

Figure 5: Social style of quantity surveyors