Getting the right fit
In March 2018 the Contractor Forum met for the first time since the new committee was established. With 36 members, many new, the room represented contractors from all walks of social housing maintenance life.
As a group we discussed what our focus would be for the coming year and what topics we felt were most important to us as contractors to take to the wider sector to consult and collaborate with.
Several subjects were discussed and following a vote we decided on: Procurement and Compliance.
Members of the forum volunteered to form working parties for these topics. The Procurement working group consists of Sonya Russell, Head of New Business - AD Construction Group, Melissa Woodall, Head of New Business - PiLon and Caroline Lester, Relationship Manager – MCP Property Services. We represent medium sized organisations providing both responsive and planned maintenance. We feel it is important that we cover a range of service delivery streams, to ensure we view procurement from each workstream’s perspective, as we recognise the need for bespoke requirements.
From shared experiences of the multiple procurement processes undertaken by the contractors in the room, the most prevalent viewpoints were that we wanted to:
- Get the best fit – to ensure clients and contractors understand enough about each other so there are no surprises once contracts are underway.
- Be able to make more informed bid decisions, so as not to waste anyone’s time.
- Strive for a more efficient procurement process. With deadlines often being challenging, what can we do to ensure the process is clear, concise and meaningful?
- Ensure smooth running of contract management and delivery post award, meeting promises proposed and ensuring cost certainty.
What we want to achieve through our working group?
We were all in agreement that whilst procurement is a subject that has been widely discussed in the sector, we believe there is an opportunity to further these discussions and deep dive into the complexities of the procurement process to establish some of the real issues and work in collaboration to develop tangible solutions. In order to better understand the wider sector opinion, we have started a conversation. Initially, we compiled a questionnaire based on the chronology of a procurement process to include:
- Market engagement
- Contract types
- Cost models / pricing
- Information / data
- Evaluation models
- Procurement timetable
This was sent to a number of clients, contractors and consultants, and we received 50 responses with a fairly equal split. The feedback was very interesting and it was clear there were some areas that opinions were strongest with viewpoints divided and based on this we decided on four we were going to take forward to continue the conversation.
In January we hosted a workshop at the NHMF Conference 2019, where we presented the findings from the questionnaire. With over 80 delegates in attendance we asked for their opinions and this led to some very interesting discussions around good and bad practice. At the end of the session we asked those in attendance to vote on each of the above subject areas, and what they would like to see taken forward into further round table discussions.
The two topics that we will be taking forward are:
- Information / Data
- Cost Models / Pricing
We are looking to host our first roundtable event on Information / Data in June. We have received a lot of interest from across the sector and would like to encourage more people to get involved in developing a refined procurement process.
We will look to publish the outcomes of this session including our work to date in the summer.