Introducing the Code for Construction Product Information

By Cathy Barlow | January 29, 2021

As communicators specialising in the built environment, the arrival of the proposed Code for Construction Product Information (or CCPI as it is more catchily known) marks an interesting and welcome development.

Our job is to help our clients to communicate information about their products, services and business in a clear and accessible way. We do everything that we can to make sure that the information is accurate and up to date, and that the meaning behind the language that we use is unambiguous. These are also the core guiding principles behind the Code and we fully support a programme that seeks to formally require these standards, making them an agent for positive change in this complex and demanding sector.

What is the Code for Construction Product Information?

The Code, which is currently out for consultation, is the result of over two years work by the Marketing Integrity Group set up by the Construction Products Association (CPA) in the wake of the Hackitt Report. It presents a common-sense approach to ensuring that all information that relates to construction products achieves the five ‘acid tests’ of being clear, accurate, up-to-date, accessible and unambiguous. It does this through a series of eleven clauses, which set out the processes that need to be in place. These clauses sit under four key headings that capture the stages at which construction product information is created, monitored, made available and put into practice.

Information creation is the obvious starting point, but beyond thinking about the type of language that is used, there are considerations such as having a documented sign off process in place, and version control of any information that is being presented so that it is always clear which is the current version. In a digital age when material can quickly pass through many iterations and be worked on by multiple people simultaneously, it is vital that the resulting information being made available has been tracked and that updates can be easily identified by those accessing the information. All too often, the simple act of dating and/or numbering brochures, data sheets and other product information gets forgotten.

Core information relates to the characteristics of the product, especially in relation to any tests, certification, and industry standards. Any claims about product performance must be verifiable and consistent with what is being placed on the market. Third party certification is one of the most powerful ways of demonstrating product performance in a credible way, and also provides specifiers with consistent criteria to compare like for like.

Associated information provides guidance on best practice for handling, storage, installation, maintenance and disposal– all the aspects that could impact product performance, not just in terms of potential damage but also to enable products to perform at their best and enhance customer satisfaction. The terms for any warranties or guarantees must also be made clear. The use of language here can be particularly important – simply stating something like “performance guaranteed” on its own is not adequate. How long is it guaranteed for? What kind of performance? Are there any caveats? Is it underwritten by the manufacturer or by a third party? These are the kind of questions that will need to be addressed, and that will help to ensure that stated guarantees offer genuine value to the customer.

Support and competence is the final area to come under scrutiny, with clear visibility of any helplines or technical support contact details, and training for anybody who provides a touchpoint for providing product information, whether that is technical, sales, marketing or customer service – there should be a minimum degree of competence appropriate to each role, and a clear line of referral when more detailed or current knowledge is required.

At first glance some of these requirements may seem daunting, however, responsible manufacturers will be heartened to find that they are probably already adhering to many of the core principles involved. There will still be a lot of work to do to achieve the standards set out in the Code, but at the end of it we will be in a position where specifiers and customers can feel confident in the information they receive, and the industry as a whole can start to rebuild the public trust it has so catastrophically lost.

You can find out more about the CCPI and the background to the work of the Marketing Integrity Group at https://buildingsafely.co.uk/, where you can also join the consultation to have your say on this important development in the industry. If you need help making sure that your product information meets the Code standards, get in touch – it’s what we do.

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