Early Contractor Involvement

Medium Schemes

One of the key features of this framework is the ability to engage with the project framework contractor or contractors at an early stage. Significant savings can be made by allowing the contractor input into the design process. The sooner a framework contractor is selected, the greater are the potential savings. Typically contractors are now being selected six months prior to the start of a project on site, although in a few cases this has been increased to over a year. You can start the selection of a contractor for your next project by looking at a new project.

Following the successful introduction by the Framework Community Board of a standard start-up agenda further lessons have now been learnt about how to get the most from Early Contractor Involvement (ECI). These include:

  • Adopting a structured approach
  • Setting clear goals and taking timely decisions
  • Investing time and money proportionate to likely returns
  • Including key suppliers and sub-contractors in decisions at an early stage
  • Ensuring good communications and building trust with all stakeholders

For further details of how this has been achieved visit the shared lessons document in the members area.

Whilst the framework contractors are happy to carry out ECI free of charge at their own risk, member authorities must be careful not to abuse this cooperation, and keep the level of ECI to a reasonable level.  The cost of ECI must be recovered by the contractors somehow, usually in their overheads. Therefore excessive ECI costs on one member’s project may ultimately end up being borne by all MHA members. Framework contractors must raise any concerns over the potential cost of ECI before incurring such costs.

There is no specific provision within MSF2 for the payment of costs to contractors during the ECI period, however a minority of member authorities have made provision outside the framework to reimburse framework contractors for specific costs incurred during the ECI stage. For example, site investigations or specialist consultancy fees.

On the successful completion of ECI it is important that:

  • Savings and innovation are ‘captured’ promptly on all projects using the form, Annex G, that is completed and returned to the MHA for analysis.
  • Savings are signed off promptly by the project manager to ensure the robustness of the savings
  • Savings are continuously reviewed by the Framework Community Board to ensure that lessons learnt are shared as widely as possible

ECI has generated savings of over £16 million through MSF2 up to March 2017. Case studies demonstrating these benefits are available here.

ECI £16m savings by category

Typically these saving have been achieved through changes to design, earthworks and alignments, for further details see the ECI document in the members area.