Early contractor involvement

Collaborative planning, management and delivery of the Thameslink London Bridge Area Partnership works

In December 2017 Jacobs were commissioned to undertake a review of the collaborative aspects of the planning, management and delivery of the Thameslink London Bridge Area Partnership works in Key Output 2 in order to produce a legacy document that will inform and inspire subsequent programmes of work.

To gather the required information, a series of seven workshops were held during January 2018 with a cross-section of key staff, both past and present, from all partner organisations. Workshop discussions were captured and reviewed and a number of recurring themes identified. This case study considers early contractor involvement.

The full report can be read here

Background information

  • More focus was placed on Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) for KO2 than for KO1 where it was not thought to have worked as well as it could have. On KO1 the contractors involved in ECI were not retained to deliver the project which was re-tendered. With the benefit of hindsight this was viewed as delivering little benefit with the loss of six months to the programme. On KO2 there was a commitment that if contractors delivered ECI well they would stay on to build the project.
  • ECI was carried out before the formal completion of GRIP 4.

Success factors

Early engagement with suppliers

NR began to engage suppliers during GRIP 4 which is considerably earlier than usual. The supply chain gave NR a view of the project grounded in realism and allowed rigorous checking of the strategy. This proved to be a good enabler for ECI.

Comprehensive ECI agreement

The ECI agreement was very comprehensive and the suppliers’ proposals for ECI included named people and key staff who sat with the client and worked through the design together. ECI enabled a check of the reference specification to ensure constructability and deliverability. This removed a range of potential issues from GRIP 5 in advance and meant the Partners had a clear view as to how NR wanted Thameslink to work.

Joint development of contract requirements

The contract requirements (technical) were developed jointly by the Partners; this resulted in far fewer (or even zero) qualifications in the tender responses. Joint workshops were used to cross-check the technical specification and work through it in detail in order that the right scope was developed for each contract package.

Integration of design with estimating

The integration of design with estimating was undertaken earlier than usual during ECI, so suppliers knew and understood the scale and complexity of the challenges to be faced. The full involvement of estimators and schedulers enabled development of a believable price and programme that suppliers could buy into and DfT could have confidence in. Due to the scale and complexity of the project dedicated resources were provided for this purpose

Development of a robust master schedule

The master schedule was very robust as key delivery partners were in place during ECI and detailed work on constructability was undertaken then. A series of events were held to go through the staging strategy to ensure that all Partners were fully engaged in its development and supportive of its content. This meant that a significant level of detail was in place in advance of starting the detailed programming process. The vast majority of the schedule planned in ECI stood up to the test of time.

Potential learning

Opportunity to involve ECI contractors in statutory planning process

The timing of ECI meant that the Partners had limited opportunity to influence the planning application for the station as far as buildability was concerned. It would have been a positive step to have brought them in earlier in the planning process as it could potentially have led to fewer changes later in the programme.

Further information

For more information on this Learning Legacy case study please email contact@thameslinkprogramme.co.uk