The Gold Standard in construction: The quest for better collaboration

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Construction site contractors

In this article, LHC explains how it is responding to the Gold Standard in construction, to deliver social impact and create local opportunity

In December 2021, Professor David Mosey’s review of public sector construction frameworks was published, establishing a Gold Standard against which construction frameworks can be measured. In the months since its launch, LHC – a not-for-profit framework provider working across England, Scotland and Wales – has been working with public sector organisations and suppliers to establish alliances that drive value far beyond pure cost efficiencies, into benefits for people and planet.

Expanding on some of the principles and policy points discussed in the Construction Playbook, the Constructing the Gold Standard review set out 24 recommendations alongside guidance to aid their implementation.

Better collaboration across the supply chain

A significant step in paving the way for more efficient and better-quality project outcomes, it hands responsibility to the whole construction sector to deliver programmes and projects that see collaboration between framework providers, public sector organisations, contractors and supply chain. To make this a reality, collaboration is key and the relationships between them are vital in developing and implementing frameworks that deliver tangible value.

Widespread collaboration across the construction industry is yet to occur – though there are pockets of best practice. But at LHC, there’s long been a recognition of the need to collaborate with suppliers to create opportunities to offer added-value services to clients and communities. LHC’s approach looks beyond an exclusive focus on cost and brings in an objective to deliver social impact and create local opportunity – such as by working with SMEs, engaging with communities and creating apprenticeships and local jobs – all while ensuring value for money.

Asha Patel, strategy, innovation and growth director at LHC, recommends organisations looking to adopt Mosey’s recommendations focus on outcomes and overall value.

She said: “Ensure that you’ve got leadership buy-in, support and resources, get visibility of the client pipelines and strategic programmes and look at the whole lifecycle costing, not just individual projects.”

One supplier with which LHC has a longstanding relationship is property maintenance company Novus Property Solutions.

Speaking on the benefits of collaboration, Novus head of business development Claire Bailey-Jones said: “Reach out to your key stakeholders, suppliers, clients, members and your contractors and include residents to harbour a framework alliance.”

Framework provider and contractor relationships are essential

The relationship between framework providers and contractors can make a substantial difference to the successful planning and delivery of projects, resulting in more accurate timescales, the use of lower carbon materials and early issues resolution, among other benefits such as safety improvements and risk reduction. This is all while making delivery of economic, social and environmental value a priority.

The focus on collaborative working and added value comes at a time when the industry is having to evolve to meet challenging environmental and sustainability requirements focused on a move towards net zero practices in planning and construction. Sharing expertise and facilitating contracts that deliver added value is critical to meet these targets.

Early supply chain engagement is not only identified in Constructing the Gold Standard but emphasised as one of the bedrocks of good frameworks in another of Professor Mosey’s reports, Guidance on Collaborative Procurement for Design and Construction to Support Building Safety.

Asha Patel explains how early engagement and lasting partnerships with contractors are key to delivering on a range of criteria, such as risk reduction, safety improvements and social value, which are also increasingly important to clients: “By engaging with contractors early and understanding their business, we can build a better framework because it is more suitable for what the contractor needs and it’s more suitable for what the client needs. If we talk to each other, we know their business ethos, their purpose and their desired outcomes, the three parties can build that together in a framework that I think delivers added value.

“It’s this focus on outcomes and the overall value that a contract can deliver that will help to transform construction procurement and the way in which frameworks are used to facilitate the best possible results for a client. At LHC, we’re passionate about ensuring we uphold the values and commitments of the Gold Standard.”

LHC was one of more than 600 respondents to the government’s consultation on Transforming Public Procurement, which paved the way for the new Procurement Bill now making its passage through Parliament. The document illustrated a clear intention to move to more consistent, transparent and socially led frameworks.

LHC already meets many of the requirements set out in the Gold Standard Framework but is always looking to improve performance through investment in contractor and client relationships. Early engagement with the market, use of standardised assessment methods and evaluation processes that focus on quality over cost are a central approach.

Claire Bailey-Jones added: “Multi-party relationships and collaboration can improve value and reduce risk. It’s a common goal – everyone working to achieve one common purpose. Commitment to the partnership and good communication are critical to ensuring the outcomes that we want to deliver for our clients.

“We work together with framework providers like LHC to make sure we are adopting those approaches to make the best use of the framework.”

The approach taken by LHC to work closely and collaboratively with contractors like Novus is reflective of the change the Gold Standard and the Construction Playbook are calling for. The latter makes clear its ambition to foster sustainability, resilience and build effective relationships between contracting authorities and the supply chain through a focus on outcomes that deliver long-term value. The guidance also points out that the building blocks of a successful framework contract include aligning objectives, success measures, targets and incentives.

Asha Patel added: “Fostering collaboration is not a quick fix but a long journey, with many of us at differing stages. At LHC, we’re proud of what we’re already achieving and also recognise there is more we can do to make sure our own strategic objectives align even more closely to this benchmark standard.”

LHC is firmly on the road to ensuring its frameworks and the relationships it builds are reflective of the Gold Standard Framework. At a pivotal time for the construction industry, there is good reason to be optimistic about the future of collaborative working and the benefits it brings, and the progress already being made may herald a new era of added value, outcome-focused contract procurement to drive industry-wide improvement.

Watch LHC and Novus Property Solutions’ film on the Gold Standard or for more information on LHC’s free-to-use frameworks, visit https://www.lhc.gov.uk/.

 

LHC

Tel: 01895 274 850

www.lhc.gov.uk

*Please note: This is a commercial profile

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