Unlocking framework value and efficiency through impactful collaborative supply chain relationships in the public sector

Local highway authorities are progressively turning to single sourced framework agreements to balance increasing highway capacity demands with ever reducing capital and operational budgets.

Selecting a framework supplier who is able to demonstrate proven and deeply embedded collaborative relationships with their suppliers is fundamental to your success. A strong and collaborative framework supply chain enables the entire framework team to draw knowledge and innovation from the immense depth and breadth of learning and best practice. Utilising these skills optimises the most efficient and effective solutions that will maximise highway capacity and reduce disruption.

Our suppliers are a critical part of delivering our promises to our customers. The success of our collective frameworks and individual projects is, in large part, reliant on their performance and how openly and transparently we all work together. In view of this, we have worked with our suppliers to develop robust processes and worked tirelessly to create long term mutually beneficial collaborative relationships. This is supported through structured behavioural development programmes such as STOP Think!, deployed across our suppliers, customers personnel and our own people.

Read more


We work closely with our preferred suppliers and include them at every project stage to ensure consistent delivery and joint improvement based on existing established relationships. This does not preclude developing new supplier relationships; suppliers are required to initially register with us on the Builder’s Profile website. This provides the essential information from which we carry out an initial assessment.  Suppliers are then further assessed and selected using a balanced scorecard before becoming an approved supplier. Following selection, each supplier is required to attend a pre-let interview where specific performance expectations and requirements are discussed and a detailed review of their systems is undertaken.

Supplier Protocol

We have created a Supplier Protocol that clearly sets out our expectations for our suppliers and also our commitments to our supply chain. Collaboration is at the heart of our approach to working with our supply chain partners.  We value trust, partnership, honesty and integrity, and we seek out those who care about their customers and work, as well as having good technical delivery. In return, we offer a commitment to strong teams and partnerships that value individuals and reward them fairly. As part of our commitment to our suppliers we carry out an engagement survey every six months; we assess the responses to improve what we do and communicate the results to our suppliers.

Performance Monitoring

Our suppliers’ performance is rigorously assessed and they are regularly audited to ensure their continued ability to meet our requirements. During the works, performance requirements will be conveyed to suppliers through method statements, Task Briefings and auditing.  Suppliers are subjected to the same close supervision as our own workforce. These measures will ensure that all performance requirements are delivered and, where required, the project team will work through our fair culture process; this enables us to review the non-conformity to identify the root cause with a view to understanding the problem, whether further training or knowledge is required, or if the outcome of the process indicates the relevant individuals will be replaced to ensure that service is not compromised.

Working Together

We work in an integrated way with our suppliers, recognising the skills and expertise they bring and their importance in achieving the excellent performance we desire. Each supplier is formally scored by the site management team on each project. This scoring is provided to the supplier, displayed in the site office and also collated by our supply chain manager. Each score is combined to provide a picture of the overall performance of the supplier.

The suppliers also score us on our performance so we can improve the way we manage and communicate with them. The scores are fed back to the Supplier Relationship Managers (SRMs) to enable structured, open conversations on performance, both good and not so good, along with health, safety and commercial aspects. We also share our forward workload/pipeline of works to enable the supply chain to invest in our frameworks through continuity of workload. The SRM provides a consistent point of communication, helping suppliers develop their performance while engaging on a range of projects with different site teams, at the same time ensuring we are doing the right things to help them succeed ourselves.

Putting things right

Occasionally performance issues occur with our supply chain partners. Our overriding commitments are to ensure everyone remains safe, service to our customers in maintained, and that we learn and grow from the event. We carry out a Fair Culture Assessment (FCA). This assessment provides a root cause analysis of where responsibility lies but most importantly highlights key learning opportunities. It is often the case that performance issues have multiple causes and the FCA enables us to ascertain the relative importance of those causes. This also informs the action we take, from re-writing processes and procedures, providing training and mentoring or moving to a disciplinary route.

Supplier audits and Scoring

Our Supply Chain Team carries out full audits on our suppliers, and project teams carry out 360-degree scoring with the suppliers to assess performance against a range of performance indicators. This twin approach provides an independent review of performance and a team-based assessment. The team scores are collated with all the other schemes that particular supplier is working on. These scores affect the ability to bid or deliver work with us in future and we may require an improvement plan before using them. As a last resort or in the event of significant failures the supplier may be removed from our approved supplier status.

When we talk about our people at Osborne we are referring to our employees and our highly valued suppliers. Only by working so openly and collaboratively can we, as a collective industry, significantly impact productivity and address the balance of increasing highway capacity demands with ever reducing capital and operational budgets.

Richard King CEng MICE is a Director at Osborne and Chairman of CECA Southern