Environment analyst _ news item _ ea business summit 2016 – accelerating growth and adding value to address market disruptors

With key themes of the day including but by no means dominated by the implications of Brexit, Environment Analyst ’s second annual Business Summit in London this week was attended by around 80 delegates from 60 or so companies active in the environmental consulting and support services sector, as well as representatives from some of the sector’s biggest clients, advisors and investors. Selective tendering advantages The ingredients for successful collaboration, partnerships and M&A, and also the importance of fostering innovation and young talent were also hot topics at this year’s event .

The issues discussed, both as part of the wider panel-based Q&A sessions and the smaller group round tables, were both varied and yet highly targeted to the audience which comprised environmental consulting business managers and executives spanning the full breadth of the industry, including those from some of the largest international consultancies, as well as those active in niche specialist practices.

Environment Analyst has pulled together some of the overarching themes dominating the day’s discussions, with the summit co-chaired by Julian Rose (managing director, Environment Analyst) and Peter Skinner (CEO, environment & ground engineering EMIA, AECOM).

In his opening address on the current state of the UK environmental consulting sector, EA’s Julian Rose summarised the key market drivers amidst the policy and economic disruption and uncertainty caused by Brexit, suggesting that “perhaps now more than ever is the time to make decisions on whether you’re in Europe, in the UK, or both; and to weigh up strategies for the global market”.

Three months on from the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the topic of Brexit was understandably a constant theme throughout the day with summit speakers and delegates debating the implications for the EC industry.

Tendering process in procurement Rose opted to highlight reasons for the environmental sector to be optimistic in light of Brexit, countering the doomsayers. Pwd e tendering registration His observations included that the predicted post-Brexit recession has not yet materialised, the deficit target has been abandoned and the government’s commitment to infrastructure investment remains unchecked and reinforced even with the chancellor Phillip Hammond’s talk of “resetting fiscal policy”. Tendering and procurement The low value of the pound is even providing positive impetus for environmental consultancies with international operations.

In terms of policy he suggested the regulatory hiatus anticipated over the next few years – coupled with a potentially daunting policy review workload in Whitehall balanced against a much-slimmed down civil service – will almost certainly offer consultancy opportunities across both the public and private sectors. Competitive tendering The ability to reset the environmental agenda and craft measures better suited to UK needs should foster innovation, while “trade-related legislation is likely to remain in place even under a so-called hard Brexit”, Rose noted.

Expanding on the likely environmental policy ramifications of leaving the EU, executive director of the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) Matthew Farrow warned the room that the “sheer amount of uncertainty we face is unprecedented”. E tendering system of government of west bengal With a copy of the exact text of Article 50 – which has never yet been invoked by any member state in the history of the single European market – he made the sobering observation that “the fact that the infamous Article 50 fits nicely onto one presentation slide highlights the challenges and unknowns we are going to face from its implementation”.

In his opinion environmental topics at the forefront of public opinion such as air quality and climate change would remain high on the national agenda while others such as waste and ecology may come under pressure. E tendering system In particular Farrow expressed concern over the potential to re-table the ‘Boris Island’ airport in the Thames Estuary – “a development made virtually illegal by the EU Habitats and Birds Directives which would cease to apply even if the UK remained part of the European Economic Area,” he noted.

During discussions on the business implications of Brexit at one of the seven roundtables held during the summit the general feeling remained slightly downbeat, with the negative concerns seeming to outweigh the positives. Process of tendering Representatives from two of the industry’s largest environmental consulting players lamented the decision, but were confident their businesses would weather the storm thanks to their substantial international operations.

The table was unanimous in its concern over the economy, skills availability, staff retention and the role of the UK in acting as a “conduit” for overseas investment into Europe. Tendering for government business Interestingly one delegate with daily exposure to large property deals pointed out his perplexity over the lack of an effect so far in terms of property investment deals following the vote.

Another of the key underlying themes for the day was the increasing need for more partnering and collaborative arrangements both with other consultancies, client and contractor organisations – as well as with academic institutions – in order to maximise service offering and value, and in the case of the latter to ensure that there are enough quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates coming through the ranks.

The general move in the UK industry move towards large-scale alliance contracts has led to an era of knowledge sharing and capability pooling that would have been unprecedented even five or six years ago. E tendering system government of kerala Consultants were keen to share their experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – from this trend.

Many of the multidisciplinary firms spoke of the need to partner with small-to-medium enterprises in order to encourage innovation and fill any specialist skills gaps in the larger projects they are entrusted with. E tendering process in west bengal However, one SME representative admitted his company’s reticence to partner with larger firms after being outmuscled on key financial outcomes and burnt on intellectual property rights.

The roundtable focusing on partnerships as a market entry solution – led by managing director of Temple Group, Chris Fry – concluded that the key success factors here are centred around trust; transparency; understanding the purpose, ‘rules of engagement’ and potential need for escalation in governance; and appreciating the relationships between individuals as often being more critical than between organisations.

Paul Bird, former director of Highways and Transportation at Essex County Council and now director at Jacobs, was able to provide perspectives from all three sides of the consultancy-client-contractor relationship. Procurement and tendering He laboured the point that for a partnership to be a success all parties must be clear from the start on the priorities of the relationship and what the key deliverables are. Tendering process pdf His experience has taught him that “the main challenge in collaboration is to be open to do what you’ve done before differently.”

When asked by a consultant in the audience how to encourage a client to adopt an approach or service they might not deem necessary Bird simply replied: “We as an industry need to have the guts to tell a client they have got it wrong and if there is a better way of doing things.” He also lamented the role of government-imposed austerity in “forcing commoditisation” and the loss of added value through standardised tendering processes.

A number of presentations throughout the day made reference to BS11000 – the British Standard Institute’s collaborative business relationships standard – as a useful tool for improving the effectiveness of business relationships. Procurement and tendering in construction The standard uses an eight point approach for avoiding the general key pitfall of poor communication. What is e tendering Director of RSK Sue Sljivic was one of the most prominent speakers of the day advocating BS11000.

Further discussion centred around the need for improved relationships with academia in order to plug a growing skills gap in the environmental industry, right from primary school through to doctorate level. Tendering meaning Mouchel director Afshan Rasheed pointed out “few people who read acoustics at university will go on to become a noise consultant with most instead entering the music industry”. Meaning of tendering But increased awareness of the opportunities in consultancy could reverse this trend.

Executive director of the industry association UK Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG), Steve Thompsett, jumped on this point and suggested that environmental skills should be incorporated in the courses offered at its new National College of Onshore Oil – which was recently awarded £5.6 million funding by the government to help bring on a new generation to work in the expanding shale gas and land-based extractive sector.

AECOM’s Peter Skinner highlighted the quite different challenges when merging together varying combinations of firms – whether it be large + large; large + small; multidisciplinary + multidisciplinary; multidisciplinary + specialist; or contractor + consultant. Tendering process in public procurement “Cultural fit” is of utmost importance to the success of any such pairing, whilst ensuring that the staff are on board and invested in successfully integrating once a deal has been done is also critical. Tendering process in construction industry “Environmental consultancy staff are this industry’s assets, and the hope is that when they leave at the end of each day they will come back again the next morning,” he commented.

Skinner – himself a veteran of half a dozen acquisitions over his 19 years in the business, starting with Dames & Moore which was then subsumed by URS and ultimately AECOM – questioned the likelihood of further mega-mergers in the industry, believing that whilst consolidation will continue to feature it is most likely to be on a smaller scale. Mseb e tendering services That said, he admits he did not anticipate the URS/AECOM deal tying two 50,000 people organisations together which “came out of the left field”, adding that he thought URS was too big to be the target of acquisition: “And so who knows what will come out of left field again?”

But one of the results of consolidation, according to Skinner, is that whilst the number of competitors at the top end is now smaller than ever, the need for quality and innovation has never been greater. Process of tendering in india For AECOM, this has reinforced the need for partnerships with smaller firms within the supply chain which can bring expertise and agility. What is meant by e tendering He concluded his presentation by stressing the importance of different sized firms across the whole spectrum, in order to ensure that the EC industry can provide the different capacity and skills required to meet client needs.

President of EBI and publisher of Environment Business Journal, Grant Ferrier, provided an update on what is happening in the US – the global environmental consultancy sector’s single largest market. What is e tendering in india He noted that the consulting and engineering industry is adjusting to a new set of macro-conditions, namely: modest US economic growth, a lower range for energy prices (eg $40-50/barrel for oil) impacting future investment potential, growing awareness of global climate conditions and commitments post-COP21, and the rise in renewables and climate adaptation and resilience measures particularly at local government level.

Looking forward, the key “pockets of growth” for environmental firms over the coming five years in the US as in many other regions worldwide, according to Ferrier – will be surrounding infrastructure, water usage, environmental information management systems, renewable energy (in particular solar in the western US), and future transportation scenarios (including electric and automated vehicles). Tendering care homes ltd In terms of the remediation sector, historically a key component of the US market, “flat is the new up in remediation despite predictions ten years ago that this sector would be in decline by now”.

However, he also pointed to the impasse surrounding Obama’s Clean Power Plan in the Supreme Court and hinted that regardless of the outcome of the imminent US presidential election – for which he cites an 80:20 likelihood of a Clinton win – to some extent the congressional battle between the Democrats and Republicans will likely mean no significant change in policy for the environmental industry.

Environment Analyst hopes that all those who attended found the summit both an informative and useful event whilst providing the opportunity to meet up with long-time acquaintances and forge new links and business opportunities. Selective tendering stages We’d like to thank those who filled in the evaluation form on the day but if any attendees do have any final comments on what they liked or any suggestions as to what they would like to see done differently/added in future events, we would welcome your thoughts (please email the editor liz@environment-analyst.com).

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