NEWS Practice

The power of partnership: why frameworks are critical in transforming our built environment and delivering social value

Frameworks have been around for many years. Historically used largely by public sector organisations to procure services to support their operations and real estate needs, including development, refurbishment and campus-wide regeneration, they have developed a reputation in the construction industry for being all about lowest cost. However, we believe done properly frameworks can have a markedly beneficial outcome for clients, stakeholders, fellow professionals and the industry at large.

Frameworks are about long-term partnership, delivering sustained year on year improvement through innovation and the streamlining of process and administration for mutual benefit..  From our experience, frameworks only work if there is honesty, transparency and willingness to collaborate at a very granular level. When things work well, they should be celebrated; when they go wrong, there should be a no blame culture and a determination and ownership to put it right.

Our framework success spans a number of sectors and client types. In the residential sector, we’ve recently been appointed to the London & Quadrant (L&Q) framework, helping to deliver much needed housing across London and the South East.  We have also been fortunate to support the Energy Systems Catapult via its framework. This not-for-profit organisation was set up to accelerate the transformation of the UK’s energy system and ensure UK businesses and consumers capture the opportunities of clean energy growth. Its mission is to unleash innovation and open new markets to capture the clean energy growth opportunity. If framework-based relationships can deliver against critical targets and make an important contribution to climate change mitigation, what’s not to love.

As a result of the numerous benefits of frameworks, not least the, long-term and meaningful client relationships that can be developed, the private sector is increasingly embracing the same approach. We’re supporting IBM, Royal Mail and BT, which have significant programmes of improvement and transformation across their portfolios. The way of working being fostered is founded on a clear understanding of what’s needed, a commitment to deliver over a sustained period, collaboration to make it happen and a shared pride when we see the end result. It’s also a brilliant way of setting, benchmarking and improving performance with every project.

These approaches have been championed in the infrastructure and regulated utilities sector for a number of years, in order to derive innovation and wider value-based metrics using partnerships and shared goals. The  Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Project 13 initiative is seeking to develop a new business model based on an enterprise, rather than transactional arrangements, to boost certainty and productivity in delivery, improve whole life outcomes in operation and support a more sustainable, innovative, highly skilled industry.

To illustrate the depth of relationship that can be built, a great example is the Girls Day School Trust, where we not only advised on their many and varied projects, but also hosted workshops for their students. They were involved in the process, saw first-hand what we do, designs in progress and how rewarding it can be, dispelling myths about what a typical engineering/construction role looks like in the process. A very inspiring programme for both us and the students, and we hope some of them consider a role in engineering as a result!

If the current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are ‘people people’ – teamwork, supporting each other and collaborating is at our core, so why wouldn’t we work with our clients in a way that harnesses this energy for societal good? I hope we see more organisations in the private and public sectors embracing this approach when development ramps up. We’ll deliver more, more quickly, and to a higher quality. We’re in! Are you?

John Deasy is Commercial Director UK at Hilson Moran

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