Rail, Construction and Infrastructure Update

This week’s Rail, Construction and Infrastructure News:

Alstom and Amey are to share the £90m signaling contract awarded by Network Rail. The upgrades are crucial to the future operation of Crossrail (Elizabeth line) services as well as the modernisation of the Great Western Main Line. Alstom is contracted for the final stage of the re-signalling of the Great Western Main Line between Reading and Paddington and Amey for signaling power works between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington.

The JV between Interserve Construction and Doosan Enpure has won a £37m contract to upgrade Horsley water treatment works in Northumberland. The new treatment facilities will be built alongside the current 1970’s plant which will continue to operate until the new works are complete.

The new £15m Royal Navy survival centre has been awarded to Galliford Try. The survival centre will include a new Aircraft / Amphibious Vehicle Underwater Escape and Survival Training facility, which will train personnel in escaping from a submerged aircraft or amphibious vehicle. The new centre is planned to be opened in December 2017.

Also this week a number of Civil Engineering contractors have warned that the lack of investment in the road network is halting growth, not just in the Construction industry but for the whole UK economy. Many have seen their workload reduced compared to the same period in 2015.

Do you agree? Has your workload reduced in comparison to last year? Join the discussion on the Bid Solutions LinkedIn group.

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Brexit and the future of procurement

‘Brexit’ and the upcoming EU referendum is at the forefront of many minds, media channels and organisations and will no doubt continue to be long after the vote on 23rd June. Many businesses are awaiting the result before making any plans or changes to their organisation, unaware of how the vote will truly affect them.

As we know, the UK is governed by a heavily regulated EU procurement regime which is unlikely to change much in the immediate event of a ‘Brexit’. An independent UK could even continue to look to the EU directives and voluntarily adopt new policies and legislation changes.

Brexit and Procurement

However, the UK could go on to become a European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member and join the European Economic Area (EEA). If an independent UK then became an EFTA member we would still be required to comply with the current EU directives but have no real influence in the discussion surrounding the rules and would be powerless to improve or amend them going forward.

Other speculation is that the UK could follow suit of Switzerland and become a member of the EFTA without remaining in the EU or EEA which would mean the UK would not be bound by the EU procurement regime.

In the run-up to the referendum, speculation will increase and uncertainty of how the result will impact procurement as well as organisations and individuals all over the UK will remain. It is likely that the effects will be minimal in the short and mid-term however the longer term could be a different story.

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Construction and Infrastructure Update

This week’s Construction and Infrastructure News:

Welsh Water has opened bidding for £330m programme of emergency and planned pressurised pipeline work over a seven-year period. The present plan is for each region to be broken down into three lots based on the complexity of the project with three firms being selected for each lot.

Plans have been submitted for Manchester’s tallest tower. It will comprise of four towers with a range from 37-storeys to 64-storeys high, overshadowing Manchester’s present tallest building the Beetham Tower at 47-storeys. Subject to planning, construction work could begin this autumn with a completion date of 2020.

The JV between Interserve Construction and Doosan Enpure has won a £37m contract to increase treatment capacity at Horsley, Northumberland. Construction will start this summer and estimated to take approximately two and a half years to complete.

Also, this week, to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday, more than 240 British businesses have been awarded a Queen’s Award. Among the winners is JCB and Wates who have won three awards both for Innovation and International Trade, making a total of 30 awards they have won since 1969. The full list of winners can be viewed here.

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Going the Extra Mile

Andy Haigh, Director, and Consultant at Sixfold explores what motivates a bid team to go the extra mile:

As a Bid Director, I have been interested for a long time in what it is that motivates bid team members to work extended hours (sometimes 24 hours and longer without a break).  Despite being under high pressure they perform willingly, enthusiastically and usually for no financial reward above their normal salary.  Of course this does not occur in every case, however as any Bid Manager knows, it happens surprisingly often.  It can be accompanied by some grumbling about the poor performance of others who have created the “situation” – but it is usually not as a result of poor performance on their own part.  It seems that the individual feels that he or she has a personal responsibility to put the situation right and get the bid completed, no matter what level of effort is needed from them.

Representatives of partner and sub-contractor companies, seconded into the bid team, can show this characteristic as well.  They will “go the extra mile” to make sure their element of the bid response is as good as they can get it.  Their contribution will often contrast with the minimalist response of some staff within your own company who are required to provide bid text (because of their specialist role, e.g. HR, Legal or Quality Management) but who do not feel part of the core bid team.

Take any of these extraordinary people away from the bid and they can revert to type.  They will frequently go back to giving an adequate performance in their day-job, but will not shine.  So what is it in this stressful bidding environment that motivates them to give exceptional levels of contribution?  What can we learn from this which might be harnessed to increase productivity across other environments?

I don’t have all the answers.  Nevertheless, I have uncovered some pointers which seem to underlie the boost in personal engagement levels a bid situation brings out.

Going the extra mile

How the Bid Management Process Boosts Engagement

Finite Problem

A bid has a very clear deliverable, both in content and in quality.  One without the other will cause the bid to be lost and the entire team effort wasted.  So, members of the bid team usually have a clear understanding of the top level objectives they must respond to from the outset.

This clarity of contribution required and the knowledge that the individual’s bid content really matters seems to generate a high level of individual engagement.  Perhaps, if we can provide such clear direction and precision in the value of their contribution to a bid, it ought to create the same motivation if used elsewhere?

Defined Timescales

A bid has a real (and usually short) deadline.  Miss the deadline and you have thrown away all the bid work that has been done.  Everyone understands that there is little chance of any extension of the time to respond and so makes personal plans accordingly.

Of course, we are all used to working to deadlines and we know that setting deadlines can improve productivity.  All too often, however, we also know if the timescales are not met, we will get away with it.  We can use an excuse that something else was more important and our experience tells us that it will be accepted by our peers and superiors.  In the bid room, knowing that missing the deadline will be a disaster for everyone, can provide the impetus we all need, particularly as the bid deadline approaches.

Nevertheless, I believe that deadlines should only be set if they are truly deadlines.  If we set deadlines arbitrarily or without giving the justification for them, the motivation deadlines can create is diminished.  So perhaps more contribution will be achieved by stating and explaining deadlines and then not allowing them to be missed?  Moreover, if we set artificial deadlines we will be found out.  Then, the value of us setting the next deadline will be greatly diminished.


Only one bid from the various competing companies will result in a contract.  Every element of each bid will be contrasted against the other bids and the best overall submission will be selected by the evaluators.  This means that the bid team is not being measured internally within the business; it is being measured against the best “out there”.

For some people, being the best is important and winning the bid proves they are the best.  I believe that if, through the bid development we can give people the opportunity and the support to prove that they “are the best”, we will improve their motivation and commitment.  I think that for some people, this ability to prove themselves is what drives them to become involved in more bids so that they can repeat the demonstration.  If we can tap into this motivation, an enhanced contribution must surely follow?

Part of the Team

In the final hours before a bid is handed over to the courier or is uploaded on to some secure web site the pace can become frantic and everyone “mucks in” to do whatever is needed to get the submission completed.  When it is all over, there is a real sense of “team” and tired elation.  This bonding can continue as enhanced relationships long after the particular bid activity is finished.

Teams formed at short notice to tackle difficult problems can bring out the best in some (but not all) people.  I think if we want more from our employees we should identify the ones who are motivated by the challenge and weigh the advantages of task-orientated teams over function orientation more carefully.


Of course, many people cannot be placed in the environment a bid team creates and nor would they want to be.  However, I have seen exceptional performances from otherwise average individuals so many times when they have been in a bid team, there has got to be something special going on.

For a business getting the bulk of its work from the Public Sector, it has to have a successful bid team.  For the team to be successful, overall levels of contribution must be high.  This will be achieved if the best people in the business are on the team.  Then the amount of business won will improve and the recognition this brings the team will elevate the status of everyone in the team.

As this happens, two other things will occur:

  • A culture of excellence and high contribution will emerge within the bid team
  • Other people in the company will aspire to join the bid team

If you get it right, this will then become self-reinforcing and your win rate will soar.

However, there is one clear danger: if left unchecked some people will become so immersed in striving for more and better bid results that they can “burn out” and everyone loses.

If you can start to generate the culture of a successful bid organisation in your business on the back of your next big win, our recommendation is to invest in keeping and increasing the momentum you have generated.  The rewards can be spectacular.  However, you need to rein back a little from time to time to keep these special people at the top of their game.

Is this only applicable to bid teams?  No, I don’t think so.  I think it will work anywhere where there is a clear combination of an expert team and complex tasks.  However, nowhere else in a business is this so starkly presented as in the bid room.

Author: Andy Haigh PPM APMP Director and Public Sector Bid Consultant, Sixfold International Ltd

We believe that Public Sector bid success comes from both the bid team members and the environment they are in. If you would like to discuss improving your bidding team’s effectiveness, please contact us on 020 8158 3952 / enquiry@bidsolutions.co.uk

Looking for the right people to join your team? We can connect you with permanent staff, or freelance bid writers who can help you go the extra mile. Click here to find out more.

Objection after the standstill period?

Unfair or improper procurement decision? Just because you don’t object in the standstill period, doesn’t mean you can’t later mount a legal challenge.

If you are thinking of challenging an unfair or improper procurement decision following submission of your tender, you will already know that it is going to be difficult. Not only will the procurement team close ranks but the timescales are short in which you can launch your challenge.

Challenging a Procurement Decision

Not so long ago, a procurement team from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority took a challenge against it to the Court of Appeal on the basis that as the challenge was not lodged within the standstill period, it should be invalidated. In other words, their claim was that if you don’t mount your legal challenge within ten days of the award notification, you should not be able to do anything more. Having weighed all the facts, the Court of Appeal took the view that whereas the contract award could not be automatically stopped after the standstill period had expired, that did not affect the claimant’s 30-day window to pursue compensation for damages.

Moreover, the procurement team suggested that any damages which could be awarded should be strictly limited by a set of stringent EU case law conditions.  Again, the Court disagreed and ruled that the award of damages should be based on UK law, discretionary and dependent on what position the challenger would have been in if the procurement had not gone wrong, e.g. loss of profit.

These decisions by the Court of Appeal will be welcomed by all bidders in public sector procurement competitions. They make it clear that a bidder who is unsuccessful because of an aberration of the process can decide not to invoke the automatic suspension provisions of the standstill arrangements. However, they can then pursue a damages claim later without running the risk that their arguments will be weakened because of this decision and that if successful, their damages will be proportionate with their losses.

If this decision in the Court of Appeal had gone the other way, this would have meant that in practice we only have a 10-day window in which to mount a formal challenge to an inappropriately awarded public sector contract. This is now clearly not the case. Of course, normally it would make sense that if you are going to challenge a procurement result, you do so as soon as there is sufficient information to give grounds to the challenge. However, there could be situations where as a result of this judgement it may be tactically better for you to wait until the standstill period is over, the contract awarded and then claim damages?  In any case, if you are badly treated by the procurement process and your complaint stands the test of a legal challenge, you can expect fair compensation.

Author: Andy Haigh PPM APMP Director and Public Sector Bid Consultant, Sixfold International Ltd

This is a complex and possibly high-risk area and one that our partners at Sixfold have experience of. If you are thinking of contesting an unfair or improper procurement decision get in touch with them 01227 860375.

For more expert advice, industry news and more, visit our Bid Hub.

Rail, Construction and Infrastructure Update

This week’s Rail, Construction and Infrastructure news:

Hochtief (UK) Construction has won the Network Rail £23m contract to deliver platform extensions in the Thames Valley from Paddington to Newbury, Oxford, and associated branch lines. The project will be completed in phases to provide infrastructure capability enhancements to enable the operation of new longer electric trains. Expected completion date is the end of June 2017.

The government opened the bidding process this week for its reformed Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme. The aim of the government is to increase the supply of new shared ownership and other affordable homes in England by March 2021. Closing date for submissions is noon on 2 September, with initial funding allocations expected to be announced by mid-December.

Costain has been chosen by the National Grid for its £100m project to replace its gas pipeline across the Humber estuary. The 5.4km long replacement pipeline designed by Capita will be constructed in a tunnel beneath the River Humber.

London Borough of Ealing has approved plans for Berkeley Group to regenerate the former Southall Gasworks on the 88-acre brownfield site. This will include 46,000m2 of commercial space, a primary school, a health centre, and green space. The project is expected to start this year and delivered in a number of phases over a 25 year period.

Also this week HS2 announced dates for their supply chain roadshow starting in May. The roadshow is to tell companies of all sizes how to win a slice of the action, explain the work packages available and to explain to companies how to bid. You can find the dates here.

Will you be attending the roadshow and if so how do you think your organisation will benefit? Join the discussion on the Bid Solutions LinkedIn group.

To view our latest vacancies for bid and proposal professionals, follow this link. To help us connect you with a winner to add to your team, follow this link.

Rail, Construction and Infrastructure Update

This week’s Rail, Construction and Infrastructure News:

Barratt London has won the agreement with SEGRO to build over 1,000 homes on the former Nestle plant in West London. The site is located next to the Hayes and Harlington railway station, which will become a Crossrail station in 2019 and therefore will become a prime location for businesses and residents.

John Graham Construction, Land Engineering, Mackenzie Construction, Covanburn Contracts, Douglas Kynoch Drainage Contractor and Morgan Sindall have been appointed for the £35m civil engineering framework for Scottish Canals. The work will include bridges, culverts, retaining walls, reservoirs, towpaths, buildings, embankments, and cuttings.

BAE Systems has appointed Balfour Beatty the £82.5m contract to build engineering and training facilities at RAF Marham. This would enable RAF Marham to become the main operating station for the UK’s fleet of F-35 Lightning and jets.

Also this week, Cambridge University working with PLP Architecture and engineers Smith and Wallwork have presented a proposal to the Mayor of London for a 300m high wooden building integrated within the Barbican. If the proposal goes ahead this timber structure would become the second tallest building in London after The Shard.

Do you think the proposal will be granted? Could timber be the future of construction in the 21st century? Join in the discussion on the Bid Solutions LinkedIn group.

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Piecing it all together

We’ve all been there. When the pressure is high and the temptation to find fault with your bid colleagues is extremely tempting.

This is the stage in the bid when the hard work has nearly all been done, the solution created, the interdependencies worked through, the financial model is coming together and the submission date is looming.

There’s an oxymoron; when the bid is nearly there, the team relationships can be at their most fraught. It’s obvious why. Although success is in sight, it’s been a long ride, people have been working extreme hours, most likely not looking after their wellbeing – food, water, sleep, exercise – to their usual standard. For most of us, both our perspective and the length of our fuse with others is far shorter when we’re tired and under pressure.Gill How Blog - Piecing it all together

What can you do as the Bid Director or a Work Stream Lead? It can be excruciating watching a bid team pick fault with each other and yet be responsible for pulling it all together. Based on over twenty years’ experience of working with bid, sales and leadership teams in high-performance environments, here are some of the things I have watched you do, that steer the bid process towards a successful submission:

How to Support Team Bonding

  • Genuinely role model. You truly know that your actions are much more believable than your speech. If you say to others, “Go home early at least one night a week”, but don’t do it yourself, you know your team will copy your lead, not your words. You know that making a careful choice about visible action is far more important than the words you say.
  • Provide supportive feedback. It’s hard when you see a member of the team, usually non-judgemental and encouraging of others, go off the handle about someone else. It’s both a brave and skilled Bid Director who can discretely point this out, bring it to the person’s awareness, help them see more constructive choices and feel good about what they have actually done at the same time. You make sure you do this quickly and well.
  • Create space. Other stakeholders, particularly those who have more energy left and sometimes those more senior, think it’s useful to “get involved” and “show support”. (I’m being tactful here. Remember they are feeling the pressure too.) Make sure that you use your authority and interpersonal skills, discretely and sensitively, to communicate that staying away to give breathing space to the team can be best.
  • Offer small gestures. It’s almost an inverse relationship, the smaller the gesture, the higher the impact. My favourite is appreciation – continuing to point out positive qualities about each other, particularly when it’s tough. Doughnuts, cake, fresh fruit, cartoons, Easter eggs, ice cream – you know these all work and often bring your own inimitable humour to lighten the mood too.
  • Invest in your own even keel. You use your own time with your coach and trusted others to decompress, be honest and true to your own judgement, and stock up on your own energy reserves ready for the next important conversation. You know as Bid Director you need to put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others.

At this stage of the bid, as you know, it’s critical how we are with each other. If we don’t pay attention, relationships will fall over at exactly the wrong time, damage the bid and be more difficult to repair afterward.

We’re all human – being judgemental of others is so tempting and easy to slip into. It can help us displace uncomfortable feelings and pretend that we are OK and can “hang on in there” all the way to submission,  making ourselves better than others.  Yet we do know that judgement of others is always short term and gives an artificial, unsustainable boost in performance.

What I have learned from you is this: you don’t take the risk, you limit unhelpful and inappropriate judgement of others where you can. You hang on in there in positive ways; you pay attention to bid task, team, and relationships in all these small ways.

Let me know – what else do you do that helps?

And if you would like some help with moving from good to great, I’d love to work you with to help you “hang on in there” in the most positive way possible and win your bid too.

Author: Gill How, Director Buonacorsi Consulting


For more expert advice alongside industry news and more, visit our Bid Hub.


The future of procurement and selling to Government

John Fernau of Sixfold looks at the future of government procurement.

I was at an event recently when the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Matt Hancock, raised a really interesting prospect.  He said that one of the things his team, presumably the Crown Commercial Service, are working on is a Crown Marketplace.  In essence, this is the extension of the GCloud concept into non-ICT categories.  According to Civil Service World, these would be what CCS calls common goods and services, which can cover all generic requirements of departments.


As I am a huge fan of the GCloud concept, this is a really exciting development.  Most importantly for me, the GCloud has lowered the barriers to entry for public contracts, allowing new market entrants and SMEs to create a sales channel to the public sector, which would have been very difficult before.  I think the transparency of the GCloud has been a revelation and has the potential to drive the GCloud market to make itself more competitive as it iterates.

Advantages to the GCloud model of Government Procurement

Another reason to be excited about an extension of the GCloud concept is that it goes some way towards solving a systemic problem in public procurement.  This problem is that the prescriptive nature of the procurement process prevents the public sector buying innovative products and solutions because they weren’t aware of them when their need was defined.  Even thorough market testing doesn’t address this, as the generic form of the solution is already formed by that point.  The GCloud approach allows buyers, and most importantly end users, to see what is available in the market before any form of process begins, preventing barriers to new solutions being put in place.

It’s not all sweetness and light though.  I saw some resistance from procurement teams over the use of GCloud.  This was partly due to genuine concerns over how diligently vendors are tested in the GCloud procurement, and partly due to reluctance to cede their role in the process as buying activity moves to end users.  All of these elements will apply in the same, or potentially more, ways to a roll-out of the GCloud approach beyond ICT.  Therefore from a vendor’s perspective, we need to be realistic about how long it would take for this approach to be generally adopted.

A potential solution is for procurement teams to behave more like the very best consultants, who are always seeking to transfer their knowledge and to put themselves out of a job.  In this way, procurement teams would focus on helping and training their end-user colleagues to buy fairly and to get the best value, leaving the end-user teams to conduct their own procurement under the GCloud type approach.  This would bring the end-users closer to the market which is where they need to be if the public sector is to access the innovation and new solutions it desperately needs.

Before joining Sixfold, John was the Home Office Group Commercial Director and previously the Head of Procurement of the Olympic Delivery Authority.

For more expert advice, industry news and more, visit our bid hub.

Rail, Construction and Infrastructure Update

This week’s Rail, Construction and Infrastructure news:

The procurement phase 2 for High Speed has started this week for the estimated £520m project. HS2 route will be from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester and they promise this will reduce journey times.

The JV between Skanska and Bam (also including Amey & Siemens) has won the £85m Ordsall Chord project to build rail links between Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly stations. The aim is to ease hold-ups to the south of Manchester Piccadilly station and enable faster, more frequent services to run across the north of England.

London City Airport project to widen the runway overlay and taxiway has been won by Lagan Construction International. The multi-million-pound airfield infrastructure project is expected to start in May 2016.

North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO), who represent 12 local authorities in the northeast, has signed 13 civil engineering contractors for the £96m highway maintenance framework.

Also this week the NHBC indicated a slow start to the year, despite the mild winter. They reported an 8% decline in new home registrations over the past 3 months, compared with the same time last year and analysts are claiming contractors are waiting for the EU referendum outcome.

Have you noticed a decline in the housing industry this year? And if so, do you think the EU referendum may be causing the market to slow?

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