Editors Comment: Trust: it’s an alien concept!

WHEN I said in my comment in the December 2005 issue that 'BAA has not done itself any favours with the rest of the industry and even government procurers should now look to their laurels', I seem to have upset Ross Maynard, operations manager for Lorne Stewart on Project SLAM, the Defence Estate's development to build single unit accommodation for the armed forces (see Contractor Profile this issue).

Project SLAM will change the construction business, Ross insists.

He admits the no-blame culture is alien to construction but with a good team and a commitment to change a huge amount can and is being achieved.

Take the supplier partners.

Often it would be a case of the m&e contractor tendering for the business with its suppliers and then ditching those as it 'revisits' the market after winning the project.

This hasn't happened. When there has been a problem, the SLAM team has been only too willing to help solve it.

All the original suppliers are, four years down the line, still on board. Their commitment to the project was demonstrated when the cost of copper and steel rocketed and the majority held their prices.

'They could see the potential and wanted to stay with the project.'

Ross admits he has been a partner before on projects but it's a two-way thing and it needs all parties to be committed.

Now Lorne Stewart has seen how partnering - true partnering - works, the company is actively seeking to bring the learning and message of Project SLAM to the rest of the business.

Defence Estates has also had to embrace the change in its way of thinking. If DE, as one of the biggest procurers of construction, can see the benefits of a different way of working the prospects are limitless.

It has obviously been a learning curve - for everyone.

I spoke only to Ross and his team but if his partners and their teams are as enthusiastic as he is then they are all on to a winner - but then he knows that already.

Everyone - contractors and suppliers - benefits with long-term contracts.

It is just a case of kicking, pushing and cajoling the rest of the industry to join in.

You know it makes sense! Defence Estates has proved partnering works and so has BAA. Other government departments and local authorities must follow in the footsteps of these intrepid leaders.

Up to 20% savings and the consequent extra profit have to be a starting point! Isn't that worth more than hanging on to retentions on a job or screwing the sub-contractor or supplier down the line?

Perhaps other developers will be forced to join in too.

Good on yer, Ross!

Paul Braithwaite, Editor

1 March 2006


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