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Partnering to survive recession

THE PARTNERING revolution will survive any impending recession, an exclusive NCE survey indicates.

Nine out of 10 respondents to NCE's 'Truth about partnering' survey claimed that this procurement route could survive on current levels of work.

With many observers predicting an economic downturn, eight out of 10 said that partnering's principles of co-operation, trust, long term relationships and enhanced profits would survive a recession. Nearly as many saw no reason why partnering need only be used by larger and repeat clients.

However NCE's detailed survey - completed by clients, contractors and consultants - indicates that partnering's growth is being endangered by greedy clients.

Clients were hanging on to too much of the savings made from partnering, 43% of the respondents claimed.

One consultant drew parallels between partnering agreements and George Orwell's allegory Animal Farm. 'All are equal, except the pigs,' he says, 'and the pigs are, at present, the clients.'

Another bluntly says: 'Partnering appears to be a convenient title used by a client who intends to squeeze the other 'partners' as normal.'

Clients were benefiting from costs savings of over 10%, said 35% of the respondents. Only 11% of respondents claimed that suppliers were receiving a similar financial advantage, while 26% claimed suppliers drew no financial advantage, and 18% thought it was a waste of time for clients too.

Just over a quarter of respondents were also worried about quality levels, with one consultant claiming standards were suffering through too many 'cosy and sloppy relationships'.

Partnering was identified by the Egan task force as one the prime ways that the industry could improve its performance.

However NCE's survey also indicates that construction will fail to meet two of the main efficiency targets.

Nearly half the respondents - 47% - said the industry would fall short of Egan's goal of

delivering 10% year on year cuts in costs, while simultaneously increasing the turnover and profits of contractors, consultants and other suppliers by 10%.

Alastair McLellan

NCE's feature on partnering begins on page 11.

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