COVID-19 Stimulus – Getting projects “Shovel Ready”

We’ve heard a lot in the media and from the government recently on ‘Shovel Ready” projects, but what does it really take to get a project to the point where stimulus funding can be used to get work underway with a minimum time delay?

On the back of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Federal Government’s announcement of $1.5B in immediate stimulus, Civil Project Partners’ Ryan O’Neill takes a look at the practicality of getting a project shovel ready.

“I think everyone in construction has welcomed the government’s stance that we are an essential industry and can be directly responsible for kick-starting the post-COVID-19 economy. As a sector, we employ almost 10 per cent of the nation’s workforce, and the contribution to GDP has a positive flow-on for the wider economy.”

“There is $1 billion in funding for shovel ready projects that can commence within six months and $500 million for Targeted Road Safety Works [2] delivered by states and territories that can be completed within 12 months on the table. Therefore, it is critical that, as a sector, we are ready to take advantage of the stimulus and begin delivering projects.”

So what does it take to get a shovel in the ground?

In Ryan’s experience, there are four critical aspects of any project that must be addressed to make it “shovel ready”. They are:

  1. Detailed design complete
  2. Land requirements completed
  3. Utilities relocated
  4. The client has resources to manage the project development and delivery

“Assuming all these are done, and often they are highly contingent on government and statutory timeframes, a project is ‘shovel ready’, but the reality is that there will be much work ahead.”

“In many instances, there’s a fair bit of preparation required before a shovel is put in the ground and we know that many tender teams and government and private clients will be looking at how they can rapidly ensure their projects are ready for funds to be released.”

“This will come with pressure and many long hours ahead. So we’ve put together five key areas that will require significant focus to ensure your project can be shovel ready as soon as possible,” said Ryan.

Five thoughts on how a pre-contracts team might be preparing for a tender influx

To get a project ready to go, Civil Project Partners recommend:

  1. Communicating with the client
    1. Getting due notice on tender releases so pre-contract teams can resource appropriately
  2. Playing to strengths
    1. Be selective when deciding which project to tender for.
    2. Ensure service offering is a good fit for project requirements – your best chance of success is through tendering for projects, you have a proven track record of delivering. Tender panels want certainty and confidence of delivery and you must be able to give them that through your proven track record of success.
  3. Prepare the resources
    1. An agile, flexible team with various strengths, perspectives and experiences.
    2. Efficient, motivated personnel whom you can trust and know work well under pressure.
    3. The technology to support reacting to various forms of communications required in this current state. Should another lockdown occur is your infrastructure ready for remote working?
  4. Efficient review processes
    1. Ensuring the right governance people are kept in the loop – no shocks at sign off time which can delay and disrupt tendering timeframes.
    2. Sticking to review dates as best possible in a dynamic situation
  5. Keeping personally balanced
    1. There could be some long nights ahead for people working in pre-contracts. Maintaining personal balance will help sustain output in those long nights and weekends.

By following those simple steps, Ryan believes that success will be possible and that contractors and clients will have the best possible chance of accessing stimulus funds to support the nation’s infrastructure-led recovery.

[1] Shovel Ready Projects


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