Strong client supplier relationship

A review of the relationship between councils and CCNZ members over the past year and a wish list for 2017, from Malcolm Abernethy, executive officer, Civil Contractors New Zealand.

Councils remain a valuable client to Civil Contractors New Zealand members and in many areas there are groups of contractors that rely heavily on the work and tender opportunities provided.

Relationships are the key and it is comforting to see relationships that thrive even when contracts enter into ‘healthy debates’ to reach a resolution.

CCNZ has over the past year been working with councils and their Council Controlled Organisations to assist in the development of contractor management systems (frequently referred to as a prequalification system – they are not!) that demonstrate that the client body as a PCBU has taken due diligence over a contractor’s health and safety performance.

We don’t always agree with contractors acknowledging that council requirements can be mandated in the RFT.  CCNZ sees these systems as simply the invitation to be considered for a tender but suggests that given the amount of time and cost to meet these requirements they should indeed become a demonstrable part of the tender evaluation process.  This is item one on our wish list for 2017.

CCNZ and the numerous councils and clients need to develop a truly New Zealand prequalification system that satisfies the council and client requirements while ensuring the contractor is meeting all of their health and safety, quality and environmental obligations.

Such a system would encompass the contractor management/due diligence requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act.  This is item two on our wish list for 2017.

On the procurement front CCNZ has been providing submissions to councils and their Council Controlled Organisations for the development of procurement strategies that reduce the time and costs involved in procurement.  We contend that the overall aim of procurement reviews is to make procurement processes more streamlined, effective and efficient and this is wholeheartedly supported by the contracting industry.

During the consultation process councils have acknowledged our request and are working toward the development of forward work programmes that provide some guidance as to what is coming up and we have been supportive of this work.  Forward work programmes provide a measure of confidence to contractors that can be relied upon to develop staff, obtain resources and invest in their individual business to allow growth of both capability and capacity.

CCNZ along with councils wants to simplify the procurement process to reduce time and costs for both contractors and council evaluation teams and through consultation we want this to happen over the next year while continuing to maintain a competitive and healthy market in every jurisdiction.

It is CCNZ’s view that a far more effective means of optimising procurement will be to start with more effective procurement planning. Government’s First Principle of Procurement states that procurement agencies should:

Plan and manage for great results

  • Identify what you need and then plan how to get it;
  • Set up a team with the right mix of skills and experience;
  • Involve suppliers early – let them know what you want and keep talking;
  • Take the time to understand the market and your effect on it;
  • Be open to new ideas and solutions; and,
  • Choose the right process – proportional to the size, complexity and any risks involved.

The most immediate and effective improvements to efficiency and effectiveness accrue from procurement planning that develops targeted tools to select contractors, including project-specific, designed to both eliminate unsuitable contractors from tendering (on a project-by-project basis) and differentiate between contractors of average and exceptional capability.  CCNZ wants to continue to work with councils to achieve this!  This is item three on our wish list for 2017.

With infrastructure work virtually complete in Canterbury we need to ensure that we now have the capacity and capability for the clean-up and repair of infrastructure following the Kaikoura earthquakes in addition to the unprecedented spend on infrastructure in New Zealand for the foreseeable future.

‘Bring it on’ because as an industry we are working toward demonstrating our capability through initiatives such as Civil Trades, and assessing our worker competency through ConstructSafe tier 1, and the considerable work currently underway to develop competency assessment tools for the remaining three tiers of the Construction Safety Council competency framework.

We believe that this work will be significantly progressed in 2017 and provide confidence to our clients and councils of the commitment to safe work practices within the industry.

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