Why open and honest conversations are key to a successful crisis response

Dave West, Head of Procurement
03 July 2020
Image of two Amey employees inspecting a document,
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Like many operationally-focused sectors, our Utilities business has found itself at the frontline of learning how to continue work during the Covid-19 pandemic, as a supplier of essential services to water and power providers.

Whilst critical services have continued, we are now starting to see the return of proactive engineering works and some customer-facing activities (such as external metering installations) which means we must move with agility to embed the lessons learnt in how to deliver this work safely in a ‘post-Covid’ environment.

Delivering meaningful change in service delivery

In the feedback from a recent series of virtual forums we held with our strategic supply chain, 66% of respondents highlighted that social distancing provided the biggest challenge for them operationally.

Utilities is a diverse sector, with some activities being able to be undertaken by an individual engineer. However, many projects require teams of engineers and, with the government reported to be gearing up for a ‘Build, Build, Build’ strategy - looking to infrastructure projects to help drive economic growth - it’s more important than ever for us to collaborate with our suppliers to ensure safety of employees and the public remains paramount.

Amey recently closed entries on its Bounceback challenge; a call across the business and to selected supply chain partners to use Covid-19 as a catalyst for change and put forward innovative solutions on how to continue to deliver in a safe, sustainable and effective way.

With over 250 ideas submitted – a number of which are from our supply chain partners – we’ve seen a focus on working smarter, utilising technology to make our operations ‘Covid Secure’ and joining up the dots across the wide breadth of services Amey offers.

Our Bounceback taskforce will now review and seek to implement those meaningful, deliverable ideas that have the potential to change how we operate for the better, be it a small contract-level change through to the industry game-changers that we have a proud legacy of embedding into what we do.

Listening to our supply chain

Including supply chain partners in initiatives like Bounceback has been a key part of Amey’s ongoing success in innovation. They play a fundamental role in delivering for our clients, so it’s important to us to provide the platform for key suppliers to have their say and share the best practice from their own businesses.

The open and honest dialogue we’ve maintained across the supply chain during the recent health crisis has helped us manage expectations with our clients, understand how we can best meet our obligations to our supply chain and, as a big organisation, share the best practice, advice and resources we have access to in critical areas such as Mental Health.

In the longer-term we’ll seek to keep these open forums to ensure people remain comfortable being able to talk about their wellbeing and that we remain supportive in the most effective way to maintain a sustainable supply chain.

While the current situation and restrictions continue to evolve, certainly in our sector, some changes will become the norm.

Covid-19 isn’t the first pandemic the world has seen and the remarkable response we’ve been able to make, with the support of suppliers, means we are in a good position to respond to a future wave should one occur.

We remain incredibly grateful to our supply chain partners whose patience and professionalism through such a challenging time has played such a key part in our ability to respond to the crisis on behalf of our customers and the communities we serve.

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