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Case study

UK Power Networks: Behavioural assessment to aid the selection of alliance partners, 2015

14 November 2015

This case study explains how UK Power Networks used a behavioural assessment in the procurement process to ensure key personnel could create an effective management team.

UK Power Networks: Behavioural assessment to aid the selection of alliance partners, 2015
power lines across landscape

Executive summary

UK Power Networks has decided to implement an Alliancing strategy for the delivery of major capital projects within the current eight-year regulatory period, commencing in 2015. To aid the selection of delivery partners, a behavioural assessment was included in the procurement process in order to ensure that key personnel were assessed for their suitability to create an effective management team.

This case study is one of a number of real life demonstrations of the Alliancing Code of Best Practice for Infrastructure Alliances.

What we did

Having made the decision to deliver major capital projects for the 2015-2023 regulatory period using an Alliancing model, UKPN recognised that to create an effective organisation, an assessment of collaborative working would be required as part of the overall procurement process.

Two-day behavioural workshop

After shortlisting delivery partners based on capability and commercial criteria, including written submissions to demonstrate the delivery of model projects, a two-day behavioural workshop was held at Cranfield University. JCP, a specialist consultancy, designed the assignments and interactions between potential suppliers and UKPN staff.

Data collection and assessment

UKPN staff, although not formally assessed, were used both as attendees who took part in the exercises with potential suppliers – in order to replicate the demands of the framework - and as assessors who collected behavioural data through the observation of the potential suppliers.

Behavioural reports

The data collected was used to inform the production of behavioural reports for each of the bidder organisations. These reports focused on positive behaviours demonstrated by attendees, as well as areas of potential improvement.

Influence of the data

The results were taken in to account in the final stage of Procurement and used to influence the selection of Alliance Management Team and Board members.

Several changes were made as a result of the behavioural analysis, including changes to the proposed key personnel for two of the four contractors selected.

How we did it

Behavioural Assessment workshops, which created a pressured environment for bid teams, were utilised in order to show their collaborative behaviours.

Bespoke model

We created a bespoke behavioural model for UKPN, which contained the collaborative behaviours we sought in our partners. This model enabled the objective measurement of bidders’ behaviour throughout the process.

Tasks within the workshops

During the behavioural workshops, we observed attendees on a set number of varied tasks and activities and measured them against the UKPN behavioural model. Tasks included a range of activities, designed to allow teams and individuals to deploy their collaborative behaviours. Eleven exercises over two days included a negotiation and real-world mobilisation as well as other scenario challenges.

The varied workshop focussed on how bidders worked within their existing teams for the first day, and then how individuals performed in varied teams on the second day.

Assessors observed and scored specific behaviours

Specific observable behaviours were allocated to each assessment activity and assessors observed based on the positive or negative incidence of these behaviours. This system allowed for as much objectivity as is possible. Assessors observed, recorded their data and then completed assessment sheets, which featured a score, with accompanying qualitative comments to support that score. Scores and comments were moderated by independent assessors throughout the event.

Behavioural performance reports

Immediately after the assessment workshops, reports were written on each of the bid teams and the individuals within them, detailing their behavioural performance against the UKPN behavioural model.

Benefits and Outcomes

  • A robust assessment methodology ensured excellent, high-quality behavioural data, which was used to inform the vital decisions that needed to be made pre-, rather than post-, mobilisation.
  • Behavioural reports on each bid team allowed for an in-depth look at each individual who was part of the process.
  • A clear message that collaboration was important to UKPN
  • Where concerns about key personnel were recorded, action would be taken to address this (amending team membership) before commencement of the Alliance, saving time, cost and disruption in changing out personnel who had previously been mobilised
  • Reports focussed on opportunities for development, as well as areas of high performance. Creation of a UKPN behavioural model allows for future measuring and benchmarking of behaviours.

What is the Alliancing Code of Practice?

The Alliancing Code of Practice outlines the information needed at different stages within an alliance. It provides accessible and valuable support to those embarking on an alliance journey and those already developing an alliance. It draws on experience from many organisations; clients, delivery teams, consultants and academics to highlight:

  • which aspects of alliance set up are most important,
  • when they are most applicable,
  • the building blocks that need to be in place to ensure the effective development of alliances.

Find out more about the Alliancing Code of Practice

  • Charles Jensen, knowledge content producer at ICE