Local procurement: developing a meaningful local jobs response

Driving you Loco: Why something so simple, is so hard to get right

I remember the first returnable that ever really stumped me. Some may assume, as a “non-engineer”, methodology or risk management would have had me flustered. But there are subject matter experts to guide those items. Where I truly hit a wall was: local procurement.

The problem is most local jobs strategies resemble a mere throwaway – “we commit to integrating local jobs in our supply chains”. So, it isn’t surprising a lot of us don’t know where to start. There are experts for the technical stuff, but who exactly manages local supplier relationships?

I have come to realise that, in the absence of clear direction, we tend to take the approach that local content is a box-ticking exercise. How often do we experience a Kick-Off that runs through the “meat” of a tender and ends with a rushed comment to the effect of: “Oh, the local job content, we’ve got a few past examples we can just rework. Leave it to me…”

I have learned over time that, that’s the approach we take because we know no better and we’ve got no time. I’ve also learned that local content does matter, actually a whole lot, and in fact, it impacts everyone’s bottom line.

Let’s unpack this further.

It’s your business to care about local content

As I’ve gone on to work in a profession centred around creating positive impact for communities through infrastructure projects, I’ve started to appreciate – local jobs is in no way a mere compliance or “copy and paste” exercise.

Here are a couple of obvious reasons why:

  • Almost every state has legislation requiring you to have a local jobs strategy, so if you want to win government work, you have to get on board.
  • As COVID recovery focuses on local business, we need to take this seriously to rebuild the society we all live in.
  • These days, anywhere from 10-30% of your tender score can be attributed to local procurement and sustainable businesses practices. So, a strong approach forms a large part of your win strategy.
  • But most importantly, local suppliers create tangible value-adds for your business, the client, and the local economy. Having good relationships with local suppliers can lead to greater cost and time efficiencies and add to the long-term sustainability of your project, boosting local perception and ownership.

Something else to note is, local job responses can take on many disguises. Whether explicitly stated or implied, we can assume around 90% of bids contain a local jobs requirement. Whether packaged as a value-add, part of your company statement i.e. “business as usual” or as I’ve often seen, “Benefits to the Australian Economy”, you should aim to reference local suppliers wherever possible to stay competitive.

You’re not the only one scratching their head

Back when I hit a wall with local procurement, I remember my first move was to hit up Professor Google. What I still find astounding, is how vacant that space is to this day when you type in, “how to answer a local job response”.

There really is very little out there. The what is clear but the how, is left to you. Knowing how many people struggle to develop a meaningful response, however, gives you the chance to stand out… in addition to my secret recipe.

5 Steps to a Meaningful Local Job Response

As a Proposals Manager, I have learned over time that, like most responses; a local jobs strategy begins way before a bid lands on your desk. Here is a roadmap I have identified for a better response:

1. Change your Mindset.

The first step to developing a meaningful local jobs response is to stop thinking about it from the perspective of “what do I need to say to win” and start realising it is a mutually beneficial opportunity to build long-term local relationships and add value to your work and ultimately your client’s project. Once you personally care about your supply chain, you’re halfway there.

2. Keep a detailed Local Supplier List.

The key to meeting a quick turnaround is to already have a register of local businesses in your Bid Library and Client Relationship Management system to tap into. Consider segmenting your supplier list by relevant services, sectors, and areas so that you can quickly search through options that align best with your ethos, project scope, client goals. Including information such as current pricing, relationship status and previous job history, can help you refine your list more effectively. Have someone monitor and maintain this list regularly.

3. Do Stakeholder Mapping before your Bronze Review.

No matter how comprehensive your supplier list, some projects will require suppliers beyond your existing bank of options. That’s why you should set aside time before your bronze review to research the area you are operating in. It can be as simple as googling local subcontractors in the project vicinity to create a targeted list of suppliers in line with the geographic and scope requirements. Often this research stage is overlooked, but it is extremely vital.

4. Align your proposed local jobs approach at your Silver Review with other elements of your bid such as the methodology and fee.

The real impact in your local jobs response, is found in the detail of your approach. This requires aligning your supply chain to key deliverables, milestones and required services of your proposed methodology. Additionally, you need to explain how this approach drives efficiency on the project and meets the client’s broader goals, such as providing work opportunities for minorities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Additionally, supplier options should be addressed in the fee model, identifying potential cost savings.

5. Don’t be shy. Reach out to local businesses.

One thing I always find interesting, is that bid writers rarely pick up their phones and contact the suppliers they are looking to partner with pre contract. Not only is this courteous, but a quick conversation can give you insight into other service offerings or value that business can provide. I highly recommend reaching out, in turn nurturing those relationships for a successful partnership!

It pays off: seeing your investment in local jobs come to life.

With all that’s going on in this country we love, it’s hard not to be a little more passionate than usual about giving back to local business. What I’ve found though, is that the passion really kicks in when you see your investment come to life. Often at tender stage we are still slightly removed from the outcome. It’s important to keep in mind the real opportunities you are creating for local business and Australia’s future.

At Struber we are passionate about creating impact for local communities. To find out more, or simply float an idea by us, connect with us at connect@struber.com.au.

Local procurement: developing a meaningful local jobs response
October 13, 2021
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