If you are a company that wants to win a slice of national, regional or local government work in New Zealand, clues to everything you need were in Grant Robertson’s speech last Thursday, says George Hulbert:
Budgets are always filled with rhetoric. And one delivered at the start of post-Covid Level 2 in an election year is always going to be filled with a major extra splash of political sauce.
However, if you look beyond the ‘$50 billion dollar Budget’ headlines, you’ll see some significant – and very specific - opportunities for businesses that are ready to grasp them.
In the speech the Government doubled down on the themes first put forward in its Wellbeing Budget last year – themes that are already being delivered through procurement activities nationally, regionally and locally throughout our country.
These themes are simple. They all support the Government’s continued aim to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders ‘at the heart of everything we do’, and seek ‘partnerships with business’.
Lovely rhetoric, but what does it all mean?
It means this: you need to show that your organisation is about more than doing its job – to be a net contributor to NZ Inc in 4 specific areas – if you want to score highly in the eyes of Government, and to be in to win the promised work that has been outlined.
The four tests
The Government is setting specific tests for companies to show that you are more than just good at your job. If you want to work with any organisation linked to Government you must be able to demonstrate very specifically – and region by region – what are you are doing:
Socially – to connect with your people and communities meaningfully, and treat the communities in which you operate as potential future employees who can be upskilled, providing opportunities for people to understand your world and succeed as part of it
Economically – working to lift skills and provide opportunities to people who might not normally be able to access them, particularly across Māori and Pasifika communities. And what are you doing to provide and document this training?
Culturally - opening your businesses up to cultural, gender and more diversity. And what are you doing to engage with iwi and create “cadetship programme to support re-skilling and career development opportunities for Maori”?
Environmentally - Reducing your carbon footprint, emissions, and your waste - within your own operations and in the work you do. (“We will build the infrastructure we need to … support sustainable development”; “Infrastructure that… supports meeting our climate change goals”; “Creating jobs, while protecting and enhancing our environment – a perfect ingredient for recovery from COVID-19”.)
(“Businesses…also need support to keep and take on apprentices”; “a Trades and Apprentices Package to provide opportunities for New Zealanders of all ages to receive trades training. This will include financial support for businesses to retain their apprentices, free apprenticeships and training in targeted critical industries, and funding increased enrolments in tertiary education and training. There is a specific $50 million fund for Maori Apprentices and Trades Training.”)
In short, being a technical specialist is no longer good enough. How you do your work now needs to be considered alongside what you do. You need to think about – and prove, in detail - how your organisation is driving New Zealand forwards socially, culturally, environmentally and economically.
We see very precise questions on this asked every day in RFPs from government ministries, councils, council bodies, DHBs and more.
Are you ready to change? It’s easier than you’d think:
This approach by Government is not new. But from what I have seen over the last 18 months, very few companies have a handle on the change that the Government’s approach has meant – specifically:
National and local authorities’ focus has moved significantly from price to a much higher non-price evaluation of bids
This approach is still being rolled out now, and the ripples will be felt through procurement for a while yet to come
The Broader Outcomes and ‘Public Value’ (best possible results from procurement – economic, social, environment and cultural) is now central to all evaluation – and it is not well understood at all by bidders
All procurement exercises now specifically about what you are already doing (nationally and locally, in every region you are bidding for) to show you are aligned and active in this way
It is all about how you’re set up to build – and deliver on – a legacy of social, economic, cultural and environmental benefit. You need to do this and show this at all times – not just when it’s time to put in a submission to Government. It’s got to become a key part of your organisational strategy going forwards.
Use Covid-19 as your chance to change
I heard Covid-19 described last week as ‘turbo-charged change’. Therefore, I ask:
- How are you applying this approach in the work you do?
- What are you doing inside your organisation to change so you are now get set up to do this systematically?
- Do you have a structure to do this, and a plan to deliver on it?
We can help you
Grant Robertson said in his speech: “We know that we must work in partnership with iwi, business, unions, community groups, every one of the team.”
If you can show that you’re working in the right ways, aiming to do more than just your job, you’ll find it’s actually not as difficult as you’d think to show that you are aligned and in a place where partnership is not a big stretch.
At Clarity, we often find with companies we meet on this topic that they’re actually doing half of this already. So you probably are too. We can help you find out where you sit on our maturity matrix, then help you to evolve simply and create a plan of action to get out there.
Then you too can take advantage of the opportunities on offer.
Business: be bold. Grasp the nettle. Make simple change. Win more work.