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Procurement – the consultant’s view

As we know, construction is a pretty fragmented industry. This means that we are all constantly chasing around trying to pull work in or, if you’re the client, trying to build an effective team for your next construction project.

So how do you approach procurement as a consultant? Well, firstly and most obviously, ensure that you read, digest and accurately answer the questions being asked of you - it’s surprising just how often this isn’t done. Do you have relevant project experience?

If not, maybe that particular project is not worth going for. You could explore other ways of gaining relevant experience in that sector, perhaps by acting as a sub-consultant or employing new staff who have relevant experience.

Procurement is not just about completing PQQs and tender documents; it’s also about relationship building. The client body wants to have confidence in the consultants they appoint, so it’s incumbent on you to develop that relationship before, during and after the procurement process.

Your internal processes should be simple and effective; make all your documents easy to find, edit and submit. Look at the process from the client’s point of view; what are they looking to get out of this?

On the business side, make sure that the projects you chase are linked to your overall business plan. Market intelligence is vital - keep up to date both with the trade press like Construction News but also with relevant trade associations such as CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group - a blatant plug I know, but a serious point.

Read everything you have the time to. This won’t be wasted effort - I can recall on a number of occasions reading snippets about projects or people and then having been able to act quickly on this.

While this article looks at procurement from a consultant’s point of view, it would be remiss of me not to consider construction clients. The process should obviously be open and fair; for both private and public sector clients, this enables you to gain the trust of the incoming consultant team. After all, consultants are there to provide a great deal of benefit to you.

While the temptation is to go with consultants you know, have the courage to look at the market and recognise that stepping outside your particular sector can be beneficial.

The lesson for public sector clients is to see the wood for the trees - make effective use of the strengths of private sector consultants, that is their speed of response, their flexibility and their innovative approach, and don’t bog them down with the bureaucracy so often associated with the procurement process.

Finally, don’t do what one public sector client body did recently and announce that the procurement process would be painless and then proceed to lump the consultants with an unwieldy mess of requirements, procedures and documents.

David Mycock is the head of marketing for Shepherd Gilmour, an international engineering consultancy based in Manchester. He is also a committee member of CIMCIG and TARGET, a construction marketing organisation based in Leeds. For further details visit www.cimcig.org and www.targetmarketinggroup.org

 

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