Q&A

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General FAQs

What is ICMS?

ICMS stands for International Construction Measurement Standards. It is a new, high level international standard which aims to provide greater global consistency in classifying, defining, measuring, analysing and presenting construction costs at a project, regional, state, national or international level.
ICMS is not a detailed method of measuring construction works. Instead, it is a high level benchmarking and reporting framework for international cost classification, reporting and comparison.

What is the ICMS Coalition?

The ICMS Coalition is a growing group of professional and not-for-profit organisations which are responsible for researching, developing, publicising and implementing the International Construction Measurement Standards for the construction sector. The Coalition was established on 17 June 2015 after a meeting at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, USA.

The ICMS Coalition supports the creation, maintenance and use of high quality, ICMS through a transparent and inclusive standard setting process. Through the Board of Trustees, Coalition organisations have each signed a declaration of support and commitment to promote and implement ICMS and encourage world markets to accept and adopt it.

Who can join the ICMS Coalition?

Any professional or not-for-profit organisation which has a role in developing cost measurement standards within the construction industry is welcome to participate in the Coalition. The full list of ICMS Coalition members can be found on the ICMS Coalition website.

How does my organisation join the ICMS Coalition?

Professional organisations interested in joining the ICMS Coalition are invited to put forward their expressions of interest by contacting any member of the ICMS Board of Trustees, or by emailing info@icms-coalition.org. Organisations that meet the criteria are asked to sign a non-legally binding declaration, which acknowledges their commitment to the development and implementation of ICMS.

Once this has been submitted the Trustees of the Coalition are asked to approve the application. Following approval, the new Coalition organisation will be invited into the Coalition, nominating a Trustee representative to participate at ICMS Coalition Board of Trustees meetings.

What problem is ICMS trying to solve?

Despite rapid globalisation with investment funds flowing across borders and money pouring into constructed assets, the construction profession currently lacks a common language and framework for classifying and reporting construction costs.

When estimating construction project costs, this causes huge problems for cost consultants, quantity surveyors, construction economists and cost engineers around the world. The ICMS Coalition is tackling this problem head on.

For the first time at a global collaborative level, ICMS will introduce a standard structure and format that will lead to greater consistency in classifying and reporting of capital costs for construction projects.

What are the benefits of having ICMS?

Broadly, ICMS will allow:

  • construction costs to be consistently and transparently benchmarked;
  • the causes of differences in costs between projects to be identified;
  • more informed decision-making about the design and location of construction projects;
  • data to be used with confidence for construction financing and investment, decision-making, and related purposes.
What is the Standards Setting Committee?

The Standards Setting Committee (SSC) is a separate and independent entity appointed by the Trustees of ICMS Coalition to develop the international standard for construction cost reporting.

The SSC is an independent group comprised of 23 experts including academics, construction cost managers and consultants, project managers, civil engineers, quantity surveyors and information managers. The SSC meets (mostly through tele-conferencing), to discuss technical details relating to ICMS. The SSC will review consultation feedback and agree on the final draft of ICMS for publication. The independent experts comprising the SSC are all listed on the ICMS website.

Where is the secretariat for ICMS?

There is no ICMS Secretariat because ICMS is a shared international standard. The ICMS Coalition has set up a dedicated website where all information regarding ICMS will be posted and communicated to Coalition organisations and the general public.

The work of the ICMS Coalition is currently supported by the Trustees of ICMS Coalition member organisations. A full list of ICMS Trustees can be found on the ICMS website. Trustees are funded by the organisations which supported or nominated them to various committees such as SSC.

What is an international standard?

In the context of the work being undertaken by the ICMS Coalition, an international standard is something which has been established and agreed at the international level and which is implemented and delivered locally. The standard itself is owned by the ICMS Coalition and not by any single organisation. ICMS organisations subscribe to the shared international standard and commit to its use and implementation through their membership.

Although there are other recognised international standard setting bodies, notably the Intentional Standards Organisation (ISO), ICMS has been delivered efficiently to the market by professional bodies to address a specific market problem. ISO recognition for ICMS will be sought.

How does an international standard work?

ICMS is developed and agreed at a global level (by the ICMS Coalition).

ICMS sets out universal rules which provide consistency in classifying, defining, measuring, analysing and presenting construction costs at a project, regional, state, national or international level. Professional institutions will incorporate these high-level standards and rules within their guidance or local standard methods or rules of measurement.

All organisations which make up the ICMS Coalition will participate in the implementation of the shared international standard through their respective memberships.

What is an ICMS Partner?

An ICMS Partner is a government, commercial or academic organisation which supports the collaborative approach to developing international standards and commits, in principle, to the adoption of ICMS. ICMS Partners can include but are not limited to the following types of organisation:

  • construction and infrastructure consultancy firms
  • construction industry service providers (e.g. measurement practices)
  • construction companies (e.g. multinational firms with international construction portfolios)
  • property investment firms
  • developers, banks and lending institutions
  • construction related software vendors
  • construction cost data service providers, etc.

Prospective ICMS Partner organisations are asked to express their interest through any member of the ICMS Coalition Board of Trustees, or by emailing info@icms-coalition.org for further information. To qualify as an ICMS Partner, organisations must provide a public statement of support and offer an in-prininciple commitment to adopt ICMS. ICMS Partners will be listed on the ICMS website.

How will ICMS work in markets with existing local standards?

ICMS is a high-level standard developed with the view that, in time, it can be implemented in all jurisdictions across the globe. Markets that do not have established standards for measuring and classifying construction costs are encouraged to adopt ICMS.

Markets that do have established local standards should adopt ICMS to compare cost data prepared using different standards from different markets on a consistent, like-for-like basis.

The aim of ICMS is not to replace existing local standards, but to provide a consistent framework into which data generated locally can be allocated for comparison. Some adjustment to existing local standards may be necessary to ensure that the local standard meets the requirements of ICMS. Over the long term, it is expected that ICMS will become the primary basis for both global and local construction cost reporting.

However ICMS will always be secondary to any legally mandated requirements which may differ from ICMS. Where possible, the ICMS Coalition will undertake to work with governments to review and update laws to reflect ICMS.

Why not stick with the established methods for classifying and benchmarking construction costs?

At present, the many ‘standards’ that exist have contributed to uncertainty and confusion in reporting construction and infrastructure costs. Research has shown that different approaches to presenting the costs of construction can vary significantly due to inconsistent methodology and standards.

This is why an international standard such as ICMS is required to ensure global consistency in presenting the costs of construction projects.

How will ICMS be implemented?

ICMS will be implemented by all organisations which are part of the ICMS Coalition. Many of the Coalition organisations will develop additional training and guidance for their members to use.

ICMS will be implemented around the world through proactive engagement by the ICMS Coalition members with the memberships, key accounts, and relevant national stakeholders (governments, banks, associations etc.) including ICMS Partners.

As with any major global initiative on this scale, it is anticipated that ICMS will initially be used alongside existing standards, but overtime ICMS will become established in construction markets and be used as the primary standard for reporting on construction cost both locally and globally.

Where will ICMS be used / adopted?

ICMS will be used throughout the world. Each of the organisations in the ICMS Coalition has committed to its adoption throughout its own professional memberships.

Who will enforce ICMS?

ICMS will be a publicly accessible standard which will be available to download online. The Intellectual Property for ICMS is owned and protected by the Board of Trustees of ICMS Coalition. ICMS Coalition members will be responsible for ensuring their respective memberships are using ICMS appropriately.

To assist their own members, each of the members of the ICMS Coalition may develop their own guidance or rules that will ensure that the requirements of ICMS are fully complied with. Eventually, market demand, government mandates and other similar strategies are envisioned to lead to broad adoption of ICMS.

How can I contribute my thoughts and opinions on ICMS?

The ICMS Coalition is keen to engage as many interested parties as possible in the development, maintenance and improvement of this new international standard. There are several ways in which you can offer your feedback and comments on the initiative:

  • You can contact any member of the ICMS Coalition through their appointed Trustee member
  • You can comment specifically on the detail of the emerging standards by downloading consultation documentation through the ICMS Coalition website
  • You can send general comments or request further information by emailing info@icms-coalition.org
When will ICMS take effect?

ICMS will take effect from the date it is formally published, anticipated to be July 2017.

Where can I find a copy of ICMS?

ICMS documentation – including final published versions – will be available through the ICMS Coalition website.

Why hasn’t my organisation been contacted by the ICMS Coalition?

The ICMS project has evolved extremely quickly since its inception at meeting in May 2015. Over the ensuing period the Coalition has sought to contact as many professional organisations as possible, inviting them to join the growing Coalition. Despite best efforts there are likely to be many other organisations that have, as yet, not been contacted. Any organisation that would like to discuss the project, including the opportunity to participate, should contact the Coalition through Trustee members of by email to info@icms-coalition.org

Is ICMS available in other languages?

ICMS will initially be published in English by the ICMS Coalition. Member organisations of the Coalition have indicated their desire to translate the standard into other languages and these are likely to be published over time.

Who will do the measurements in accordance with ICMS?

It is anticipated that measurement and preparation of construction costs in accordance with ICMS will be undertaken by accredited construction cost professionals, many of whom are members of the ICMS Coalition organisations. These professionals will be supported by their professional organisations to implement the new standard through existing and new guidance developed by the respective member organisations of the ICMS Coalition.

What are the costs to me of using ICMS?

ICMS will be available, free of charge, to an individual or organisation. There are no costs incurred in requesting or using ICMS to measure, analyse and report construction costs. Organisations that use ICMS can seek additional guidance and support from any of the ICMS Coalition member organisations that have signed up to implement ICMS.

Will the use of ICMS significantly increase cost for SMEs?

SMEs commonly constitute the bulk of organisations in the construction industry in many countries. As adopting ICMS may initially involve some changes to organisational processes, it may incur some initial cost for example in terms of training for staff. SMEs that use ICMS can seek guidance and support from their professional organisations which are part of the ICMS Coalition. By adopting ICMS, SMEs would rapidly gain recognition for their work or services which are consistent with the international standard. The benefits will far outweigh the small initial cost incurred in making the necessary change to organisational processes.

Why are professional organisations leading this work?

With the ICMS Coalition members covering construction markets throughout the world, professional organisations are well placed to understand the existing challenges brought about through multiple measurement standards.

Professional organisations have the ability to come together to develop standards which are in the public interest and which represent international best practice. These organisations are also able to support and guide their members to deliver the new standard and thus ensure it is adopted widely and consistently.