Our team has recently worked with WaterNSW to facilitate a whole of supply chain industry engagement process on critical water projects for drought-impacted communities across the state. Inviting representatives from right across the supply chain to participate in a carefully considered and well-planned briefing (actively promoted across industry), WaterNSW was able to share its objectives across its entire portfolio of potential initiatives and raise the profile of the opportunity on offer to the market.
Even knowing that not all projects will necessarily come to market (as they are yet to go through business case interrogation and approval), WaterNSW has seen a much greater level of interest from the supply chain than is typical and received expressions of interest at a far higher rate than comparable programs.
By gauging the market’s interest and capability to deliver, WaterNSW has gained valuable insights into how projects could be prioritised, programmed and packaged for faster delivery—a key objective for that organisation, and a condition of the Australian Government funding co-contribution.
For industry, structured conversations revealing WaterNSW’s objectives and intent for the portfolio has provided information useful in planning resources, building capability, forming partnerships and proffering solutions that are better aligned not just to the agency’s goals, but to their own commercial objectives.
An international example of early and effective engagement in practice is the Bank Station capacity upgrade scheme in the UK, where London Underground implemented an ‘Innovative Contractor Engagement’ process for procurement of their design and construct (D&C) contractor.
Tenderers were provided with a priced risk register for the project early in the process, allowing them to respond with solutions or innovation to deal with the risks. As part of this process, the UK Government also reserved the option to purchase good ideas (delivery, technical or commercial) from non-successful tenderers to ensure the project benefitted from a collaborative and optimised contractor involvement process.
From market sounding to industry briefings, tender interaction and less formal dialogue with industry, there are plenty of options for adding rigour and making sure no one is unfairly advantaged. Or, perhaps more accurately, that everyone is advantaged equally.