How to be 30% better than the competition | JCP News

How to be 30% better than the competition

On average, 30% of the marks awarded to suppliers bidding on long-term infrastructure projects are awarded for demonstrable positive behaviours. Now’s the time to make sure your business can get every single one of those marks.

By Simon Vaughan

The tendering and bidding process is an exacting one. Infrastructure projects are high-value, long-term, complex beasts, and those projects that succeed – where success is measured by on-time and on-budget completion – are those where constructive planning, collaborative working and a focus on continuous improvement are embedded from the start.

Take the A14 Integrated Delivery Team, for example. The team is working on delivering a highways infrastructure project on the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge. The project is worth £1.5bn and the team has members from several partner companies, all led by the project client, Highways England. The A14 team recently won both Team of the Year and a Judges’ Special Merit Award at the national Highways Awards 2017 ceremony – awards based on the commitment by all project partners to work collaboratively as a team to achieve common project goals.

"...increasing numbers of tender documents contain a section on behaviours and collaborative working."

Start as you mean to go on

For the most successful projects, collaborative behaviours form part of the planning process from the very beginning. In a commercial environment where there are relatively few differentiating factors, behaviour carries a considerable weight. That’s why increasing numbers of tender documents contain a section on behaviours and collaborative working.

In order to make this a strong part of the bid, supply chain companies need to have embedded good practice into their project approach, and be able to demonstrate how that good practice delivers better results.

  • From the top down - this type of working practice is cultural. Therefore, it has to start with the full commitment of the senior leadership team and a drive to make collaboration part of the company’s culture.
  • Communicated and understood – the buy-in at the top is worthless without a real understanding throughout the whole business. Everyone needs to know that collaboration is a fundamental principle in the way you work, and be trained and developed on a continuous basis so that it becomes a habit.
  • Demonstrate the value – once you’ve shown your people how collaboration can improve project performance, and you’ve given them the opportunity to see it working in practice, they are more likely to understand its role and importance, becoming your standard-bearers for excellence.
  • Look to the long term – whilst large-scale infrastructure projects may run for 10-15 years, your personnel will almost certainly change during that time. Make sure your recruitment, induction, training and handover policies include collaborative working traits and experience so that you can continue to run your part of the project smoothly.
  • Invest in people - successful collaboration is more about deploying the right behaviours than focusing on process. Look for people who already demonstrate the attitude that fits with your programme, or who can build those attitudes with focused training. Invest time in recruitment, relationships and behaviours to establish a solid platform for your programme.
  • Measure the right things - measurement is a key feature of any project. For your programme, remember to measure not just the key data points, but the ways your alliance is working, how your other partners are managing collaboration, and whether behaviours are contributing positively to progress. This is important throughout the project, but particularly so if leaders move on, new teams arrive or the project specifications alter.

It’s important to remember that collaboration is a means to an end – a better outcome for your customers. Successful collaboration results in higher project performance and that in turn delivers rewards to partner companies, stakeholders and service end-users.

Simon Vaughan is Managing Director at JCP Consultancy, and specialises in alliancing and collaboration for large-scale infrastructure projects.

“A recent survey by the Infrastructure Client Group among industry insiders revealed that almost 50% feel the construction industry is not ready to embrace alliancing and collaborative working on a wider scale. This is an alarming statistic and one we should seek to reverse.”
Collaboration and the Supply Chain, JCP Alliancing.

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Notes to Editor:

JCP Consultancy Ltd was born out of John Carlisle Partnerships in 2002 with original board members and shareholders being: David Curtis, David Maxwell, Diarmid de Burgh Milne, Malcolm Newman and Simon Vaughan. Over the coming years both David Curtis and Malcolm retired from the business and in 2014 Diarmid left JCP to pursue new opportunities. For more information on the JCP board members and the company associates, click here.

JCP specialises in helping major clients, contractors and their supply chains realise the benefits of reduced cost, speedier delivery, increased profit and improved relationships from working collaboratively with each other. They have a 91% success rate in helping clients win work. The company has worked with leading names including Network Rail, National Grid, Highways Agency, Welsh Water, London Underground and Thames Water and with Central Government including DfT, BIS, and HMT Infrastructure UK.

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