Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The early bird catches the worm

James Wood – Piletech Manager

So why would involving a sub-contractor early benefit my project?

The past decade in the New Zealand Construction market has seen an evolution in how Clients procure their assets: from the ‘entry price trumps all’ tendering market to the-focused-on-the-end game procurement models of design and build, Alliancing and latterly Public Private Partnerships. This progression has typically delivered greater value through early (and later) involvement of the Contractor to ensure alignment and delivery of the key project drivers.

Typically, screw piling is a design and build part of a project’s scope. The Consultant provides a performance specification as part of the tender documentation and a pile design and pricing is presented by the sub-contractor. This is typically completed in less than two weeks; little time is left for value to be added.

However, real value can be delivered through earlier involvement. The input of a specialist Engineering team refines the design through minimising scope, reducing risk and ensuring build-ability. This then flows through to input into the consenting process, procurement, removing testing from the critical path and generally ensuring that the construction phase is the encore rather than the first act.

A significant proportion of our projects, with a variety of Clients and Consultants, are secured through nomination. These Customers understand and trust that value can be delivered to their project through our early involvement. A quick survey around the office shows that these are some of our most successful projects with the best outcomes for clients, Main Contractors and Sub-contractor
On the other end of the scale, we are seeing projects coming to market that have been designed for competitive pricing. This is predominantly focused on the rebuild in Canterbury. In these cases there is often little thought given to rationalising overall scope of the project, or understanding of the implications of procurement, the risks associated with poor specifications and overall allocation of piling risks. In many of these projects, Clients will ultimately fail to reap the value they are seeking; the tender phase simply provides competitive tension around what has been put forward in the documentation.

We are continuously finding more areas where earlier involvement provides value to a project. Only last week one Consultant mentioned that they liked working with us because it reduced the time they invest in the piling; they could focus on the subsequent phases of the project, increasing their and the Client’s probabilities of a successful outcome.

Early involvement with a sub-contractor prior to the tender phase can appear counter-intuitive – “How do I know I am getting value for money if I can’t compare a few prices?” However, others have understood the benefits and taken the ‘leap of faith’ - becoming some of our most successful, repeat customers. They understand the overall drivers and ensure that the team is aligned, setting the project up for success.

So, on your next project are you going to be early enough to catch the worm?

We would love to hear your feedback on this or any of the topics in the screw files. Please feel free to post below and we will be sure to get back to you.