Managing seasonal spikes in demand
With the busy summer holiday period upon us, Craig Stopper, Framework Manager at G F Tomlinson, reflects on how the contractor manages spikes in workload during this time.
As schools across the Midlands have enjoyed the final days of the academic year and thoughts turn to the much-needed summer break, the team at G F Tomlinson has been hard at work preparing for their busiest period of the year.
We have been delivering programmes of work at schools throughout the region for Local Authority clients over the last nine years, delivering 3,785 pupil places. This summer is no exception as we are set to complete 30 school projects throughout the Midlands – something we have been preparing months for.
In order to ensure every project is successfully delivered on time and budget, with no compromise on quality, we rely on established processes embedded into Scape’s framework and fundamental procedures which are essential to helping clients and end users benefit.
Early engagement and a collaborative approach
Working closely with clients from pre-construction stage provides early understanding of their needs, scope, budget and timescales, providing greater opportunity to plan delivery, resource allocation and procurement. The early integration of the technical and logistical expertise of our project teams and supply chain partners also provides clients with greater cost and programme certainty.
An example of this success is the Basic Needs Programme which we have delivered at schools across Nottinghamshire working with Arc Partnership, previously Nottinghamshire County Council’s Property and Planning team, for the last 6 years. Every year, planning commences 6-8 months in advance, providing an opportunity to review overall programme requirements and develop feasibility studies to confirm viability of cost, programme and buildability. For example at Sutton Road Primary School our early involvement ensured we were able to complete their new classroom building before the end of the school holidays, allowing the school plenty of time to set up their new classrooms ahead of the autumn term.
Supply chain engagement and management
Our local supply chain partners are a natural extension of our workforce and they play an important role in the successful delivery of our summer programmes.
Two years ago, we introduced Local Supply Chain (LSC) to efficiently and transparently engage with our partners. LSC permits us to advertise our forward pipeline of work – allowing partners to plan their workload and resources in the same way we do – whilst also reviewing the volume of work being procured, which helps our Supply Chain Manager assess capacity.
We engage supply chain partners at the start of the pre-construction stage drawing on their specialist technical knowledge, cost data and expertise. The early engagement ensures we secure the involvement of local SMEs helping us to achieve 67% local spend within 20 miles of site. It also ensures that their input is focussed and adds value, providing the client certainty that the project will be delivered to budget and on time, 100% of the time.
Continuous improvement through performance management and lessons learned
In line with our Scape framework process map, reviews throughout and on completion of any projects ensure we are continually evaluating progress and outcomes against the project brief.
At the end of the summer holiday period, workshops are held with clients to review delivery of their wider programme of work, providing an open and collaborative forum to discuss best practice and how lessons learned can be applied on the following year’s programme. Outcomes from previous years’ lessons learned workshops with Derby City Council have included implementing early procurement of long lead packages to mitigate programme risk.
David Highfield, Programme Manager at Derby City Council said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank the G F Tomlinson team who delivered Derby City’s school projects over the summer holiday period. The schemes where undertaken professionally and the quality was to a high standard for which each of the sites are enjoying the benefits."
Our extensive experience gained from working on Scape’s frameworks for the last eight years, together with early involvement, ensures enhanced stakeholder relationships, quality and consistency, giving clients peace of mind that their project is in capable hands.
We look forward to this exciting time, and delivering fantastic results for our clients in the education sector once again this summer.
It seems that every year we try to undertake 8 to 10 weeks work into a restricted 6 week time slot but yet again this has been achieved. I am currently looking at the forthcoming year’s schemes and no doubt the same restrictions challenges and tight timescales will apply but I have confidence we will achieve them again.
David Highfield, Programme Manager, Derby City Council
Craig StopperFramework Construction Manager
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