‘Good purchasing clients know what they want’

3 July 2012

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3 July 2012 | Adam Leach

To carry out a good construction procurement, buyers must start by clearly outlining the goals of the project, a panel of senior construction figures has said.

During a discussion on new models of delivery at the Government Construction Summit in London yesterday, two senior executives said a good client – in this case the purchasing organisation –understands the issues from the beginning.

Tim Byles, chief executive of social investment mutual, Cornerstone, and former ‘national procurement champion’ for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, said: “A good client starts by knowing what it is they want to do.”

He told the audience that in both central and local government, the strategic objectives of projects are often not aligned closely enough with the procurement process. He said: “We’ve got to find more effective ways for people who know what they’re doing in terms of delivering to be engaged in getting the [proposition] right.”

Mark Castle, managing director of construction at Mace Group, also highlighted the need to make the right expertise and information available to the project manager. “The ultimate good client need not necessarily be an expert in everything, you need to surround yourself with good advice, but a good client does need to understand what advice he’s getting and how he absorbs that information to make a good decision off the back of it.”

Castle added that the public sector could learn best practice from the private sector and vice versa. He said he had recently met with the procurement team of a major supermarket to learn how they leverage their position and carry out procurement.

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