Putting Design At The Heart of Procurement

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Independent Review of Construction Procurement Highlights A&DS as Best Practice Example.

Architecture and Design Scotland has welcomed the publication of an independent review of public sector construction procurement and its emphasis on the importance of putting design at its heart.

The review, chaired by Robin Crawford and Ken Lewandowski, was published on Tuesday 22 October and is available here.

The review looked at how public bodies involved in construction-related procurement can deliver value for money and efficiency.

It acknowledges the importance of design and how it can deliver a range of benefits – notably reduced capital expenditure, maintenance and lifetime running costs as well as better service delivery, user-satisfaction and future-proofing – all central to realising the Scottish Government’s ambition to create better places.

Jim MacDonald, Chief Executive of Architecture and Design Scotland, said “We welcome the findings of the review, especially the emphasis it places on putting design at the heart of procuring public buildings. We are pleased to have been able to contribute to this review and that the work of our Healthcare Design programme has been highlighted as best practice. This review clearly demonstrates the economic and social benefits of involving the end-users of a building early and taking a design-led approach when tackling important projects.”

Architecture and Design Scotland contributed to the review and a number of examples from our Healthcare Design Programme are referenced in the report and highlighted as best practice examples.

These include:

A&DS’s work with the NHS on developing design briefs known as SCIM (Scottish Capital Investment Manual) for health infrastructure projects. These design statements are required as part of the business case process by the Scottish Capital Investment Manual used by the NHS. The review states, “We believe that there is much that other parts of the public sector can learn from this work.”

It also references the lessons from the NHSScotland Primary Care Reference Design Project – published by A&DS and Scottish Futures Trust in September 2013 – which showed that innovative design can save money while delivering a great building.

The review outlines the importance of design-led procurement in detail:

By “design-led” procurement, we mean a procurement process in which it is recognised that a consistent focus on achieving high quality in design processes and outcomes can potentially deliver a very significant range of benefits. These can include reduced capital, maintenance and lifetime running costs, increased functionality and efficiencies in service delivery, flexibility and better environmental performance as well as greater user satisfaction and a positive impact on communities.

Design-led projects are often assumed to be more costly, focussed on unnecessary quality or more complex in construction. In fact, a good design-led project begins by fully considering the needs of users and future users, and employs innovation and careful judgment to deliver the best product within budget. This ensures that buildings are not only fit for purpose, but future-proof. Furthermore, good design methods can facilitate the closer collaboration between procurers, suppliers and end users, before solutions are specified, which ensures that proposals are fully tested, and meet users’ needs.

Design-led procurement requires that proper value is given to the quality of design proposals at tender analysis stage and that design is afforded proper consideration throughout the delivery period. Design costs often account for a fraction of the long-term project costs, but design can often have the biggest impact on efficiency, sustainability and overall success.”

Quotes from the ‘Review of Procurement in Construction’, undertaken by Robin Crawford and Ken Lewandowski, published 22 October 2013.

(Image by Gareth Hoskins Architects from the cover of Quality and Efficiency – NHSScotland Primary Care Reference Design Project published by A&DS and SFT in September, 2013)

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