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ACE News

26 SEP 2018


Progress Network event explored how procurement and collaboration can transform the industry

The Progress Network event, Building the Dream Team: Procurement, Frameworks and Collaboration, set out to raise awareness amongst the industry’s future leaders. And it duly delivered. Hamish Dunlop, Progress Network North West chair reports.

With a "race to the bottom" approach rife, and thousands impacted by the demise of one of construction’s largest players, Carillion, now is the time to put collaboration at the heart of procurement and transform the way the industry works.

The event kicked off with a presentation and workshop lead by Lewis Sharman of the North West Construction Hub (NWCH) highlighting the need for a culture shift towards a more collaborative approach and how effective procurement can drive this home.

NWCH champions a two-stage tendering process, rather than traditional procurement which is often driven by lowest cost wins which ultimately result in change claims determining the success of a project. The collaborative two-stage tendering approach brings the client, contractor, consultant and the rest of the supply chain and community on board at the earliest opportunity, creating a “dream team” to maximise social value, design-out waste and deliver more clarity.

Social value and ensuring construction projects have positive impacts on communities is also benefited by a collaborative approach. Early contractor and supplier involvement allows time to design in or plan for the use of local suppliers, workforces and community engagement in schools.

The case study shared by NWCH focused on the Liverpool Schools Investment Programme, in which a local structural timber company was identified as a possible supplier. The approach allowed the design to be steered away from a steel frame to a timber frame structure for a series of new build schools. This had the benefit of local spending gains as well as a reduction in carbon footprint.

One key to the success of the two-stage tendering process, like any successful process or scheme, is the buy-in from all parties involved.

The second part of the Building the Dream Team event was a presentation on Network Rail’s Major Contracts by Ian Wright, a Senior Contract Specialist at Network Rail. This developed knowledge around the various suites of contracts available and gave a unique insight into the reasoning behind the changes in contracts for one of the major civil engineering clients in the UK.

Interesting points included the desire to remove the "big bully" type of client clauses and reduce what was previously considered the "collaborative" approach of using the old Infrastructure Conditions of Contract (ICC) Target Cost on low-value and simple works. The new contracts reduce administration with a greater need for frequent audits from the client side. Other key changes in the next funding period include: the introduction of project bank accounts to ensure payments reach the supply chain in good time, more logical contract layouts, ICC software licence so amendments can be embedded, use of electronic signatures and the introduction of “early warning” notices.

After thanking Arup for sponsoring and providing the venue, the event concluded with a message to encourage the future leaders in attendance to embrace a more collaborative way of working internally within teams, on multi-disciplinary schemes and externally with clients, contractors, consultancies and communities.

Hamish Dunlop is Assistant Engineer at WSP.

ACE's Progress Network is now known as ACE Emerging Professionals. The group is sponsored by Mott MacDonald.