I have to be honest after 15 years in the Procurement and Supply Chain field, “game changing” are not words I saw used very often (sad to say!)  So when I received a call from Watercare NZ to talk about how to build behavioural capabilities into an RFP in order to help the selection of suppliers for a multi-million dollar project, my ears were primed!

So let’s set the scene…

Watercare NZ by its own admission had ruled for many years with the notion that they were the leaders, they knew all that there was to know in the water industry, they knew best.  Then realisation kicked in that none of us really know best and we can always learn more, Watercare took the approach that they had lots to learn especially in a difficult supply/demand industry that is Infrastructure.  With both industry and NZ government realising that there was a growing crisis in NZ in terms of a huge gap in where they needed to be, growing demand for talent, lack of resources, lack of certainty or long term agreements, “hand cuff” solutions preventing real innovation led to an industry crying out for opportunities to shape a different path.

So Watercare decided to be very, very smart and do things differently.  With a programme of work worth $2.4 billion over the next 10 years they have built the Enterprise Model and within it a Programme First team which integrates Watercare, two Construction Partners and Design Consultants to work collaboratively towards one shared goal.  The core deliverable is to create the environment to extract maximum value from the fully funded infrastructure programme and deliver the defined Value Outcomes.  Their bold new vision is called 40/20/20

  • 40% reduction in carbon
  • 20% reduction in cost
  • 20% year on year improvements in health, safety and well-being

With buy-side respondents reporting that nearly half (46%) of potential value from supply contracts isn’t being ‘realised’, whilst sell-side respondents report delivering only 66%. Watercare realised that the only way to combat these contract value leakages was through real quality relationship management.

And so the phone rang….

The remit was to help design a behavioural framework for suppliers to be selected, the one word on everyone’s lips was COLLABORATION!  Rightly so there were concerns how potentially 6 different companies could form part of the Programme First team and work together with one agenda when really there are 6 agendas at play, different leadership teams in the background with different priorities.

So we firstly took a step back and suggested, well we know we want to assess suppliers but do we know who we are first?

STEP 1:  Implemented the Predictive Index tool into Watercare and utilised the tool to assess Behavioural and Cognitive abilities of the Watercare employees and members of the Programme First team.

STEP 2: We trained Watercare and their (Programme First)P1 team the in-depth science of the tool (which is validated in the workplace) to look at what drives and motivated behaviours rather than put people in a box and suggest this is how they behave.

I’ll be honest I had my doubts if a team of “black and white” engineers would take on board this “HR fluffy stuff” and really go in-depth to understand the intricacies of people and what motivates them, would they look at what is really going on underneath the surface or would they see this as an engineering project where black is black and white is white.  This is where they surprised me…within a few hours of training they were hooked, now don’t get me wrong we had had plenty of denial, disagreement, challenging confrontations beforehand but once we got into it and especially the science behind the tool the super smart engineers of course proved how super smart they were and picked it up in seconds.

STEP 3: What do we actually want our Construction or Design Partner to look like?  This is where the Predictive Index tool comes into its own as it allows you to not only assess people but to also assess a ROLE!  So we individually went through the 15 minute assessments of what we wanted each role to look like.  Then the fun began because no one knows what pattern is going to come out from the questions!

The Job Assessment itself is extremely simple, you basically read through statements and tick the ones that you believe are true of the ROLE, remember we are designing the perfect role not a person.  Once the P1 team had all of their profile patterns of the roles in front of them we could then have an alignment conversation about what we really wanted because as expected all the patterns were different.  The reason that this ALWAYS happens is because everyone has a different perspective.  Collaboration means one thing to me but it could be totally different to you, hence this alignment conversation is so crucial to ensure we are all on the same page.  After 4 hours we had all agreed on what we wanted each of the roles to look like ie. DESIGN stage was completed.

STEP 4: The RFP was sent out and in the RFP was a link for all of the preferred team to complete, this link contained a behavioural assessment and a cognitive assessment.  The responses then came back from each partner as normal with all of the required responses, CVs of the preferred team but this time we also had their behavioural and cognitive results which allowed us to predict how these teams would behave.

Step 5:  We could then measure the suppliers utilising both quantitative and qualitative data.

Step 6: Quantitative Data – we used The Predictive Index tool to score the match between the Job Assessment Roles we had created against the preferred team Behavioural and Cognitive results to give us our best match score.  The Predictive Index tool gives us a rating out of 10 on how well the partners behavioural assessment matches the job assessment and again another rating out of 10 on how the Cognitive assessment matches the job assessment.  We then get an overall best match score of both results.


Step 6: Qualitative Data – In my favourite most innovative part of the process so far we then brought each supplier partner into a evaluation workshops.  Each partner came to not 1 but 3 workshops and were assessed during these interactive sessions.  The workshops consisted of ice breaker style conversations, real life alignment conversations from the RFP, collaboration exercises and problem solving exercises.  During each part of the evaluation the suppliers were assessed using the behavioural framework we had built based on the core capabilities we had decided we wanted for each partner.  A minimum of 5 assessors per day scored the partners individually and as a team in different criteria areas and came up with overall scores.

Step 7: Scores were then moderated and discussed with each of the experts in the room and overall scoring was decided.

The stage 3 evaluation workshops accumulated up to 60% of the scoring for the RFP.

Now THE MOST IMPORTANT PART choosing the suppliers!

Now even though we had designed what we wanted to be the perfect role and the perfect team we all know that nothing in life is perfect and we are indeed dealing with people.  So what we wanted to look at is mitigating the risks around which teams would work better together in a collaborative nature.

After much moderation and consideration, the partnerships were formed and an awesome ceremony marked this historic occasion.

The representatives and teams that were selected for Programme Frist come from 6 different companies, some have worked together before, some haven’t but none in such a collaborative nature where they now all sit together and share the same goal and agenda for the next 10 years.  We are currently in the transition phase before the go live date, the level of respect, trust, collaboration, true leadership and transparency is a testament to the overall solution that Watercare have built within the Enterprise model.

Watercare have truly built something that will go down in history not just in NZ but in the Construction industry as this 10 year project worth 2.4 billion is jut the start of what the future looks like for many, many collaborative partnerships of the future.

It was truly an honour to play a small part in this huge achievement for Watercare.

If you would like to try a Predictive Index behavioural assessment for yourself and receive a free copy of your own results, click here: LINK TO OPEN INVITATION URL TRY PI