Tim Fitch: 07816 517590  Brendan Morahan: 07816 514505

The Collaborative Comeback – BS11000

Registrations for BS11000 are really starting to gain momentum now, with more high profile businesses seeking accreditation for their strategic relationships against the British Standard. BS11000, the British Standard for Collaborative Business Relationships is the first of its type in the world to formalise how organisations approach mutual relationships but more than that, it strives to really optimise the benefits of joint working, with specific phases looking to refine process, reduce duplication and address creation of additional value, so there is no surprise that forward-thinking businesses see this as an opportunity to improve performance, whilst building stronger working relationships.

Partnering attempted to introduce this philosophy with the advent of PPC but it often fell short of truly generating the additional benefits that were aspired to. Enthusiasm was already fading when the economic downturn saw a return to lowest cost bidding and the shift back to JCT Contracts, where many from the senior management generation felt most comfortable and almost overnight, partnering disappeared. The result is a ‘cat and mouse’ game, where clients try to make the lowest price stick and contractors are generally trying to recover from the strategically adjusted pricing needed to secure the work in the first place all leading to the re-emergence of old fashioned  adversarial behaviour that we all had cited as being a thing of the past.

The depth and longevity of this recession has hurt business badly, with numerous casualties to date and others taking radical steps to keep trading. Many businesses are tired of the exhaustive effort necessary to simply to hold a commercial position, which has led to the need to look for a different, more effective approach to delivering projects and BS11000 does provide that option.

The premise of BS11000 is simple and the Standard provides a structured platform through eight stages to guide an organisation through firstly establishing its own commitment and capability, through process and governance led from the top and then by setting its strategy and corporate aims. The business then develops its internal capability before deciding how to select its collaborative partner(s) and this is the important bit; a collaborative relationship must be equitable, with each partner demonstrating full commitment and fulfilling their responsibility, so partner selection is key. This format is not appropriate for all relationships, for example a partner needs to be like-minded but also it will add no benefit to wholly transactional relationships.

Once an understanding is reached and a joint-working framework is established, all parties should be focussed on optimising the relationship and this is where the fun really starts. By this stage, you will have agreed a joint approach towards managing risk and will also have clear joint objectives, whether that be time and cost certainty or other drivers that you will all start to focus on. Having all signed up to achieving these goals, you are all committed to working together to support each other in achieving these joint objectives, which is opposing to how many contracts are being delivered presently. ‘Man-marking’ will be eradicated and that resource better utilised. More significantly, BS11000 actively promotes value creation and that is additional value, over and above the terms of your relationship. Opportunities for creating additional value are identified and a commitment to realising these made, which is monitored along with the mitigation of risk throughout the term of the arrangement, with interventions made where progress is less than anticipated. A theme of the standard is to constantly push for innovation, development and value and this is also consistently reviewed.

The final stage of the Standard, deals with exiting the relationship but in truth this is starting to be considered even before the relationship is formed. Although as it suggests, the Exit Strategy addresses the managed conclusion of the relationship, it also places great emphasis on a smooth transition for the client, whilst looking at future joint work opportunities, so that hopefully the benefits and learning can be re-visited and built upon.

It all sounds so simple, so why is this not the norm and why would clients want to move away from lowest cost bidding ? Well, in truth some won’t but many will; the benefits are too great to ignore. For a client’s perspective, aside from a much more pleasant environment to do business, there will be greater certainty on cost, programme and other key drivers. They equally will be party to influencing these aspects as well as having greater visibility and input to risk management and value creation. Resources on both sides will be better deployed, with a reduction in duplication of roles and a sharing of knowledge and responsibility and the contracting organisation will be able to positively focus on the tasks in hand, in a challenging but supportive environment, with the opportunity to influence additional value creation.

In future blogs, we will look at the individual stages of BS11000 in much greater detail but this will hopefully entice you to think more about the potential benefits to your organisation.

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Collaborative working and BS11000

Tim Fitch

Tim Fitch has extensive civil engineering leadership experience, gained particularly in the geotechnical and rail sectors, where he has helped niche businesses become market leaders, and quadrupled turnover in Taylor Woodrow’s rail division.

With a strong background in business development, Tim spearheaded growth at Vinci’s civil engineering division, deploying customer relationship and pipeline management techniques to grow the company’s work in the transport and energy sectors.

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