Mid-tender interview feedback
Two clear themes were identified during the mid-tender interviews:
- use of the BIM model; and
- having the correct tools and technologies.
During the interviews with the various contractors it became evident that the contractor base was struggling to view and understand the 3D models. Requests for PDFs and hard-copy print outs were frequent; however, this was something that the project team were not prepared to issue, as it would defeat the purpose and intended outputs of this BIM tender trial. It should be noted that the contractors were pre-qualified and their BIM capability assessed. Based on the client’s requirement to complete the build before Christmas 2014, the tender period was reduced to accommodate an earlier on-site start date. The reduced tender period put pressure on the contractors’ supply chains that were not in a position to view and interpret BIM data, hence the requests for the more traditional transfer of information.
It was also clear during the mid-tender interviews that the various contactors did not possess the correct tools and technologies. An inability to use the various systems required proved a delay to understanding the data that was available to them. This, coupled with only basic in-house usability and expertise, meant the contractors found it difficult to fully understand and progress during the initial tender period.
Tender analysis and contractor engagement
Three out of the five tenderers submitted a pricing document that broadly matched the document that was derived from the costing software and included in the tender documents. One of the other tenderers submitted only the summary sheet provided and only on request provided back up in the required form. The final contractor submitted the summary sheet provided with their own pricing document as back up.
Of the three who followed the pricing document, only one used the majority of the quantities taken from the costing software and this, incidentally, was the contractor who offered the lowest price and was eventually appointed. As well as offering the lowest price and engaging most readily with BIM processes overall, the work packages that were modelled were where the winning contractor had the most competitive prices. Items of risk, which neither the BIM model or survey information could detail, were also priced more competitively by the winning contractor which had a contributory effect on the overall competitiveness of these work packages. At the time of writing there was not enough information to analyse how much of an impact the BIM aspect had on these prices, although it is anticipated that this analysis will be able to be carried out at the end of the project when all risks have been realised and all subcontract packages let.
In terms of analysis of the tenders themselves, it was considered by the quantity surveyors that using the NRM pricing document made analysing the tenders simpler and more accurate. Furthermore, adding client cost codes throughout the document allowed easy benchmarking back to the client’s previous pricing documents.
The tender was met with mixed responses from the contractors. Generally speaking, those who had the highest price did not engage well with the BIM tender process. Specifically, these contractors did not want to work solely with a 3D model, and without the provision of 2D drawings they struggled to effectively disseminate the information through their supply chain. This meant that an already tight tender period was effectively made shorter with delays in getting information out to the supply chain.
In contrast, the feedback from the winning tenderer was far more positive. They fed back that they had used the same costing software to drive efficiency in the tender process. They were clearly the most heavily engaged with BIM, and therefore reaped more of the benefits it can afford. They were also the only tenderer to provide their own model or mention the costing software during the post-tender interview.