Managing contractors involved in high impact activities

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1 November 2011 Managing contractors involved in high impact activities A study of practices adopted by major organisations across six different sectors

2 Contents 1. Introduction 2 2. Executive Summary 3

3 1. Introduction Organisations1 use third parties2 to carry out a whole host of activities, some of which are of such a nature that poor performance could have catastrophic consequences. These include loss of life, serious impact on the environment, major financial and reputational losses and perhaps even the ability of the organisation to remain viable. It is therefore these high impact activities that we have focused on; seeking to understand how organisations manage their relationships, control activities and mitigate risks. Organisations have grappled with a number of factors in developing their approach to managing contractors involved in high impact activities this has included: Granting autonomy of decision making while setting the right standards Developing the right relationships with contractors while maintaining a reasonable commercial outcome Being prescriptive about procedures without diminishing thinking and responsibility Maintaining control of outcomes while holding contractors responsible for delivering on their obligations Increasing quality and safety performance while maintaining efficiency and competitiveness. We have carried out a study of practices adopted by 21 major organisations across 6 sectors (Airlines, Mining, Construction, Pharmaceuticals & Chemicals, Nuclear and Space the full report contains the specifics. Our study approach consisted of interviewing those at the sharp end of managing contractors on a day to day basis, with a focus on what works. We have distilled the observations from our participants and extracted the practices that in our view appear most notable amongst the various good practices we identified. We have then used these notable practices to build a composite model of excellence. To avoid expectations of instant solutions, we have also identified factors that inhibit successful deployment. We have included a self-assessment tool, to help organisations use the results of this study (in the full report). We are most grateful for those who have shared their time and insight with us and hope we have done justice to their contributions. Please do not hesitate to contact me or those listed in the Contacts page should you wish to discuss matters further. Qadir Marikar, Partner A study of practices adopted by major organisations across six different sectors PwC 2

4 2. Executive Summary The participants in this survey recognised that regardless of what the contract stipulated, how risk had been legally transferred, or what the obligations of a contractor were, activities undertaken by a contractor were ultimately carried out in the name of the client. Effective contractor management required placing accountability onto a skilled set of individuals, retained in the organisation, with the capability to take on key activities if necessary. In exchangee for the burden of accountability, these individuals had an appropriate level of authority and autonomy to make the right decisions within a well understood hierarchy of priorities. They selected and worked with a relatively small number of contractors who shared the same values and objectives. Over time, in a number of examples, contractor management tended to be closer to the way organisations manage their own business activities. Contractor relationships were allowed time to develop, but were also subject to strict evaluation supported by relatively intrusive monitoring, inspection, compliance and assurance processes and characterised by long term targets. Participants reported significant benefits in efficiency and safety performance as well as, perhapsps counter-intuitively, lower cost outcomes through this approach. Notable practice integrated nine organising principles across the following three categories: Establishing and maintaining relationships with the right suppliers in the right way Implementing levers of control and influence to ensure that commitments are properly understood and are being delivered Making it work managing contractor day-to-day activity, investing in people, learning from experience, and continuous improvement The diagram below illustrates the organising principles we applied in seeking to understand and categorise the variety of responses we received through our interactions with the 21 organisations that participated. Diagram A Organising principles used in understanding the data A study of practices adopted by major organisations across six different sectors PwC 3

5 Establishing and maintaining relationships Common targets Effective contractor management in high impact environments required a common language, a set of agreed priorities, honest conversations, sharing of information and a commitment to quality and improvement. This tended to drive relationships which were focused on the longer term rather than the immediate activity at hand. Leading organisations drove a consistent approach over decades and spoke with one voice with suppliers, driving trust and commitment in return. Nature of relationship Leading participants invested heavily in identifying and developing relationships that would promote collaborative working. This included intensive due diligence performed by skilled teams in the supplier pre-qualification and preselection phase. Due diligence covered a number of dimensions including cultural fit, shared values, the ability to be responsive and agile and the capacity to develop. Some participants actively chose smaller suppliers in order to maximise influence through top customer status. Leading participants ended up with fewer, deeper, and longer relationships, characterised by heavy collaboration. In some cases, these suppliers were completely embedded into the organisation and viewed as an extended enterprise We need to make sure that what is important to us is also important to them Mutually sustainable terms We are not focused on driving competition between our suppliers but instead on obtaining value... The nature of the relationship needed tended to drive sole sourcing strategies. Commercial terms were designed to be appropriate enough to take into account supplier commitments to invest. Demand uncertainty was reduced through better sharing of information and long range planning and commitments to allocate work. Cost and efficiency targets tended to be focused on better ways of working rather than price alone. Leading participants achieved many levels above industry benchmarks in safety and cost performance through sustained effective contractor management processes, rather than commercially aggressive approaches such as regular competitive tendering. A balanced basket of incentives led contractors to earn better commercial outcomes through better performance. Organisations would work with supplier to help them gain their bonuses. Implementing levers of control and influence Relationship management in practice Supplier relationship management was not considered an activity confined to procurement but was actively integrated across the organisation at all points in the contract lifecycle. Sponsorship from executive level leadership was supported Our Alliance Contractors have a seat at the table. They are involved in planning and management meetings A study of practices adopted by major organisations across six different sectors PwC 4

6 by different points of connection between the organisation and the supplier. This was further enabled by the use of enterprise wide systems that collected and shared information relating to supplier performance. Relationship management was considered a skilled activity and was subject to extensive training programmes, in notable examples both principal and contractor ensured that sufficient attention was paid to managing the relationship. Leading organisations regarded relationship management as providing a commercial edge, enabling them to deliver better quality and cost outcomes, in some cases this was characterised by the development of joint intellectual property. Risk and Control Relationship management was further reinforced by high levels of control and compliance. Risk identification and potential root cause analysis was a joint exercise led by the organisation. There were high levels of compliance, monitoring and audit activities undertaken against areas of greatest risk. At times this included the embedding of staff within Quality Assurance functions of the supplier. If you don t understand what they are doing, and the chances they might take, how are you in a position to challenge them? The approach to monitoring was risk-based and undertaken by skilled staff within the organisation that were knowledgeable enough to perform the activities themselves. In some cases, risk-based monitoring became a process repeated on an hourly basis. As a risk management measure, some organisations retained a small proportion of their portfolio of high impact activities and carried these activities out themselves, helping to ensure that knowledge was retained in the organisation. Many organisations specified control of work systems and standards to drive consistency across their supplier base and ensure fit with monitoring, compliance and audit processes. This level of standardisation was seen to drive efficiencies in safety and cost as improvement could be rapidly implemented enterprise wide. Audit processes were undertaken by highly skilled and credible staff who understood the activity being undertaken (often co-sourced with specialist third party auditors) and diaries were cleared to enable audits to be conducted effectively. Leading organisations tracked the results of their audit and compliance programmes and were able to demonstrate a correlation between the decline in incidents and the implementation of audit and compliance recommendations. There are 3 main requirements for working with contractors in [this] industry: the contract must reflect the desired outcome; sufficient oversight must be in place; and people must be accountable for contractor behaviour & performance There was recognition that ill-thought out, overly prescriptive approaches to setting standards could result in them being ignored or passively complied with, increasing risk. Investment was therefore made in ensuring that controls and standards were credible, well designed, efficient and well understood. A study of practices adopted by major organisations across six different sectors PwC 5

7 Responsibilities and accountabilities There was recognition that ultimate accountability was retained in the organisation and for accountability to work, a high level of autonomy and authority was necessary. This provided the accountable individual with the ability to make decisions within a defined mandate without fear of being second guessed. This was reinforced by training and an unambiguous view on what the hierarchy of priorities were that drove decision making. Leading organisations used the contracting process to ensure that clear responsibilities, accountabilities and decision authorities were assigned between principal and contractor. This was characterised by highly detailed scopes of work, the intention being to minimise ambiguity of delivery and ensure that the staff knew exactly what they were to be monitoring. Contract transfer meetings were held so that specific named accountabilities could be assigned and that all parties knew their obligations. In some industries, regulation made this process easier by imposing certain standards and ways of working. There was a view that some contractual risk transfer mechanisms were often counter-productive and in reality costly to enforce and drove a blame mindset. However, some organisations built early warning obligations into their contracts to ensure that contractors communicated critical information on time. Making it work Planning and responsiveness to unplanned events Leading organisations acted as the master planner, integrating supplier activities into a single plan that was used by all and acting as the key decision maker when prioritisation decisions needed to be made. Suppliers were included in scenario planning, with a focus on testing the thinking process rather than the answer provided by the supplier. Resources: capability, capacity and flexibility Organisations paid attention to the skills and competency of those who were engaging with third party suppliers. A leading organisation regarded Project Management as a critical skill and rewarded and trained resources accordingly, as well as implementing long term resource planning through apprenticeship and relationships with universities. In addition to concentrating on internal resources, organisations would ask third parties to demonstrate their capacity and skill building programmes, in some cases this would be undertaken in the form of shared investment. At a more tactical level, pricing premiums would be attached to specific returnees, knowing that continuity and experience would reduce risk. Performance management Leading organisations recognised that performance management was only effective if all the other elements outlined above were in place. Key activities included joint We can demonstrate that our investment in safety and joint ways of working... has actually reduced our overall cost post activity debriefing and root cause analysis, the results of which were shared enterprise wide through shared IT platforms. Organisations also ensured that they addressed supplier underperformance proactively, through embedded teams and supplier improvement programmes. Where high impact activities were involved, collaboration between competitors was encouraged, this included suppliers sharing their own root cause databases with each other. A study of practices adopted by major organisations across six different sectors PwC 6

8 A composite model of excellence We have developed a composite model of excellence based on the notable practices discussed. This model is characterised by deeper, fewer, and more trusted and impactful relationships with critical suppliers; supported by consistent messaging with robust and relatively invasive monitoring, compliance and audit processes. We found that the leading organisations often operated in a regulatory environment that forced standardisation and were characterised by regular sharing of safety and environmental matters between competitors. This composite model of excellence is discussed in detail in the full report Leading organisations have spent decades getting to this state. In the process they have seen material differences in health, safety and environmental outcomes, as well as lower overall cost of operations however they are not complacent and maintain consistently the objective of continuous improvement. A study of practices adopted by major organisations across six different sectors PwC 7

9 This document has been prepared for the intended recipients only. To the extent permitted by law, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any use of or reliance on this document by anyone, other than (i) the intended recipient to the extent agreed in the relevant contract for the matter to which this document relates (if any), or (ii) as expressly agreed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP at its sole discretion in writing in advance PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. All rights reserved. 'PricewaterhouseCoopers' refers to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (a limited liability partnership in the United Kingdom) or, as the context requires, other member firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, each of which is a separate and independent legal entity. ml rp

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