The third C

Edd Burton

Associate Director

Choosing the right supply team is about more than cost and competence. People-focused procurement techniques are essential to make that choice.

The emergence of people-focused procurement techniques is helping clients to identify the most competent bidders, and set the tone for a more productive working relationship during delivery.

Contractor selection is one of the most important decisions those planning a complex project must take. In a recent survey of over 100 global construction leaders, almost 70 percent identified poor contractor performance as the biggest reason for project under performance

The client that chooses the right contractors will secure a supply chain with the right capability at the outset, maximising both value and chances of successful performance. But the traditional practice of selecting contractors is unlikely to provide a full picture.

Testing for the ability to walk the walk, not just talk the talk

Underlying bidder selection is the client’s desire to find a partner who will work with them truly collaboratively. Clients want to know not only that a main contractor knows how to build their project, but also that they will form an effective partnership with them, sharing a common working culture, ethos and vision.

An established technique among recruitment professionals, behavioural assessments draw on many of the same principles as employee selection, and allow clients to vet potential contractors by asking them to demonstrate their approaches and attitudes in a realistic test scenario.

By using both qualitative and quantitative techniques, the performance of the bidding teams are measured in a series of baseline assessments – which give a guide to how the bidder is likely to work in the real world, and how they would handle challenges and setbacks.

  • 70% Global construction firms identified contractor performance as the main cause of project under-performance

How to embed behaviour assessments into a procurement process

1. Identify which suppliers will be key to the success of your major project or programme.
2. Build time into the tender process to include behavioural assessments after written proposals have been submitted and prior to evaluation commencing.
3. Clearly articulate what supplier behaviour you want in the tender documentation, such as collaboration, problem solving, leadership, team working and decision-making.
4. Develop real-life scenarios which suppliers can be asked to carry out during the assessment stage, such as managing a significant delay on a project.
5. Select which supplier personnel to include in the assessment process, and consider members of your own team to see how the team works together and identify strengths and weaknesses.
6. Define what the right behaviour looks like. What criteria will the supplier be evaluated against during the assessments?
7. Undertake the assessments and evaluate.
8. Prepare feedback for all suppliers. Make sure the successful supplier details how they will address any weaknesses in their mobilisation plan. Used correctly, these assessments can give the client a detailed snapshot of a bidder’s ‘DNA’ – in other words, how they will behave in practice.

A win for the supply chain

Suppliers may initially view the introduction of behavioural assessments with suspicion – they are, after all, another hoop to jump through in the bid process. But those suppliers who approach the process positively can also use it to better understand their own people and identify where to develop them. The greatest benefit of behavioural assessments is shared across the supply chain – the promotion of a more effective, responsive and intelligent way of working and interacting. On large, complex programmes, this approach is a win for both client and contractor.

 The road to successful collaboration

Ultimately, these assessments are a means to an end – to improve return on investment by putting the right people in the right place, and therefore dramatically increase the likelihood of successful performance.