One of the most important meetings in a project is the tender handover meeting from estimating to QS. I’ve been in hundreds of these meetings and they’re a hot spot for waffle! So much is discussed that is completely unimportant and irrelevant, particularly at this stage of the project.
Some projects are so big that you will never be able to answer every question and it can be counterproductive to sit in these drawn-out meetings and trawl through page after page of information to try and find answers that will become apparent at a later date, or in a one-on-one conversation.
Instead, it’s important to extract what’s important and where you can protect your margin and make gains. As a QS, I wanted to know what was important for me, so I created a list prior to these meetings of what I really wanted to know:
- What are the key sub-contract packages?
- What are the areas of opportunity?
- What are the areas of risk?
- Areas of unknowns and allowances for these unknowns
- Methodology – how did we envisage doing the works?
- Is there anything with a long lead-in time?
- Are there any potential programme risks?
- Do I need to procure anything early?
These eight key items not only helped me manage my time, but also helped me to identify where the value was in the project.
Estimators are adept in quickly analysing a project and as they only have a limited time to produce a tender, they will have assessed the areas of risk and created opportunities within their clarifications and allowances. Extract this information from them so you can make your own analysis and plan of attack.
Another key area for me was methodology and programme – here I could identify key packages that would benefit from early procurement. By procuring these packages early, we could iron out any design unknowns, construction details and interfaces with other trades. This allowed me to get ahead and make sure the onsite works ran a lot more smoothly as the design and scheduling was done far in advance rather than being an after thought and rushed to get on site.
Tender handover meetings can be drawn out, so there are a couple of ways you can extract this information quickly and then move on to concentrate on other things. Here are some tips on how you can do this:
Create your own tender handover form with the key information you’re looking for. This can also help form the agenda of the meeting and allow you to take “the lead” during these meetings.
If you already have mechanisms in place for tender handovers, you can send your questions to the estimating department – this will help them form their documentation and agenda for that meeting, so your requests get dealt with.
If you don’t have the opportunity to do these and you want to cut out the waffle, have your questions with you, and make a point early on of what you’re looking to get out of the meeting.
Ultimately the meeting is normally chaired by the estimating team, but it’s important that you have your own voice and to take an element of control during the tender handover. They can seem very construction and programme oriented, but extracting the important commercial aspects from the tender will not only benefit you, it will also raise the commercial awareness of your construction and design teams at where the risks and opportunities lie.