How to procure a contract with a project team concentrating on delivering the construction phase?

A recent contract in London procuring and tendering a trade subcontract, presented a problem. The procurement team were having difficulty securing enough time to obtain the works information for a complex and important subcontract. Those responsible for preparing the works information were extremely busy people fully-focussed with delivering the construction phase of their project – thus presenting the potential for subcontracts not being ready when future-work needed to start.

The challenge was to procure a “best value” subcontract with the right balance between quality, cost, time and risk, using help from people with limited time to spare, multiple deadlines to achieve and contractual processes to maintain.

This was overcome by getting to know people and taking the time to understand the reasons preventing the information being ready. Bringing experience of working on major projects to the equation was a starting point only and would not be enough on its own. Every week people strive with all their power to achieve a job-well-done. Leaving important aspects of their responsibility on the table is not an option for them. Listening to others and being willing to learn about their priorities was key to understanding the obstacles often not in their gift to mitigate. This developed the working relationship which paved the way to negotiate diary space, cope together with the tight timescales, the complexity of the subject, produce the works information for tender, and a “best value” subcontract in time.

Management pressures, contractual processes, email communication, and tight schedules regularly hinder the necessary ability to maintain meaningful and rewarding human contact. Productivity is the loser. Taking the initiative to understand the problems faced by others will be acknowledged and rewarded in kind. This does not mean neglecting emails, processes, or missing deadlines. We are all coping with ambiguity and complexity, so understanding other people’s problems and developing teamwork will always give productivity an upward trajectory.


Key tips to remember;

Taking the initiative; self-management, ability to listen to others, willingness to learn, negotiating, prioritising, coping with ambiguity and complexity.

Core skills;

Procurement and tendering, communication, negotiation and client care.