DORSET COUNTY Council and consulting engineer Buro Happold are poised to sign a work sharing deal that they hope will cut design costs by up to 30%.
The agreement will see Buro Happold take on work when Dorset's in-house faculty Dorset Engineering Consultancy is over-stretched. Buro Happold will similarly let work to Dorset when its own workload peaks.
'The relationship enables us both to iron out peaks and troughs throughout the year by sharing work. It's a two-way process,' said Dorset Engineering Consultancy manager Michael Winter.
The alliance follows nearly a year of talks. The consultant first proposed partnering when it bid for work externalised by Dorset six years ago. It has since been supporting Dorset's transition to Best Value procurement.
Buro Happold systems development manager Martin Duffy described the framework-style relationship as informal. 'We have a gentleman's agreement,' he said. 'A memorandum of understanding will set the deal for 15 months.'
Standard contracts will be used on a project by project basis, he added. But the agreement will reduce contractual red tape, so cutting costs, Duffy said.
Further savings are to be made by cutting out marketing costs and provision against bad debt. Both have agreed to pay for work within 25 days.
Buro Happold is also talking to Plymouth and Gloucester about building similar relationships, said Duffy.