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Bovis courts rivals for new procurement era

A group of the UK’s largest contractors and clients are planning a massive shake-up of how they work with subcontractors.

Bovis Lend Lease and specialist procurement outfit Achilles will go live next year with Building Confidence, a system of prequalifying first tier suppliers that will do away with the need to prequalify each time these firms bid for work on Bovis projects.

Bovis Lend Lease has accredited 74 of its tier one suppliers and hopes to have 300 on board when it goes live.

Now the system looks set to be taken on by many of the industry’s other major names.

Contractors understood to have had or to be planning talks on introducing Building Confidence include Carillion, Costain, Laing O’Rourke, Mace, Nuttall, Shepherd, Skanska and Taylor Woodrow. Clients showing interest include British Land, CLM/ODA, Land Securities and Stanhope.

At least two of these are thought to be on the verge of committing to accrediting their supply chains using Building Confidence.

Under the system each tier one subcontractor fills out an online assessment then undergoes a two-day physical audit to test their capabilities. This prequalifies them to bid for any job for a Building Confidence member contractor in the next 12 months.

The assessment criteria include health and safety, occupational health and safety, quality, environment, sustainability, financial, management of their supply chain and corporate governance.

Firms will pay an annual fee of £3,000 to be accredited.

Nigel McKay, Bovis head of procurement and supply chain, said this should represent an overall saving.

“If firms evaluate what they spend at the moment in filling out prequalifications it will be massively in excess of £3,000. From that point of view it is value for money,” he said.

Analysis: Common criteria will be key to Confidence

By Suzannah Nichol

We support the principles behind Building Confidence. It looks like a step in the right direction for the whole industry.

It joins a plethora of other qualification schemes. We would like to see the development of core criteria that would be common to any of these, so that whichever client a specialist contractor wants to work for, they only have to qualify for one in order to be recognised by all, allowing them to get on with the job.

Fortunately by linking up with the SpeCC concrete scheme and with other contractors apparently interested in taking it on, Building Confidence seems to be addressing this.

If all main contractors come on board this could be the glimmer of light we are looking for.

Suzannah Nichol is chief executive of the NSCC

Nigel Mckay on Building Confidence

What are the benefits for the subcontractor?

The real power of it comes when we have brought other contractors on board. Once a supplier is accredited through one member, they do not have to prequalify to bid for any other member.

What are the benefits for contractors?

It stops us having to spend all of our time searching the market because you have a database of audited information.

Who else is involved?

On Monday we will sign a memorandum of understanding with [concrete frame body] SpeCC that will allow us to share information.
When we want to prequalify a concrete firm we can see the information from SpeCC through Building Confidence and vice versa. It means our concrete contractors don’t have to qualify twice.

What happens if I fail the assessment?

This is not pass-fail. It just gives a position with regards to areas you may want to address. We create action plans for organisations to sign up to, to progress the standard.

What experience does Achilles have of assessment?

Achilles will already be familiar to contractors in the rail and utilities sectors of the industry, as an operator of long standing Link-Up and Utilities Vendor Database (UVDB). Its auditors are NEBOSH or IBOSH qualified.

Isn’t this just for Bovis?

We don’t want this to be badged as a Bovis Lend Lease thing. That is why we are clear about the name Building Confidence. We want to create an industry standard. We will have as many other contractors on board as want to be.