The Project or the Contractor, Whose Priorities Win?

Major infrastructure projects can involve many players and complex supply chains. Each of these organisations will have their own business plans, challenges, priorities and targets.
The truest possible test of a partnership is what happens when the needs of the project are out of alignment with the priorities of one or more of the organisations involved. For example, striking a balance between short term cost, manpower or timing constraints and the lifetime maintenance costs of the asset.

For us, the straightforward answer is that the needs of the customer and asset users always come first. But behind this fairly simple answer lies some fairly complex challenges. It’s easy to put the right words into a tender submission but ultimately it’s how people behave once the contract has been awarded that matters.

A Question of Culture

The biggest challenge of all is the cultural shift that leads to individuals seeing themselves as belonging to the project or framework as much as to the organisation that employs them.

This is not a simple transition. It calls for strong and consistent leadership – not only constantly reinforcing the programme objectives but also being seen to practice what we preach. It also calls for open collaboration with a supply chain that shares our values.

Techniques to instill the right kind of value-driven culture include workshops, deep dives, stand downs, team briefings and one-to-one discussions. This all demands time and commitment. We must also remember to celebrate successes and learn from mistakes, together.

Consistent values must form a continuous thread through HR and performance management measures including individual job descriptions, development plans, performance reviews and leadership development. Any mixed messages have the capacity to undermine the focus on value and long-term benefits for the users of the infrastructure.

Ultimately, of course, there is no conflict. Focusing on customer needs and long term benefits to asset users is the surest way to secure our future growth and prosperity as a business.

Find out more by visiting Highways learning pages on our website.

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