Collaboration, Ireland, United Kingdom, Water

It’s no secret that collaboration is critical to strong working relationships with one’s clients. We have supported clients like Scottish Water and Caledonia Water Alliance in achieving the ISO 44001 certification, which is an international standard for collaborative business relationships. Their success stories further demonstrate our ability to get the best out of business partnerships and maximise achievements by establishing trust among partners.

As a multi-disciplinary firm, collaboration between different sectors is fundamental to who we are, but also is instrumental in helping us achieve our goals and provide top-tier client service. In the UK and Ireland, AECOM has adopted the ISO 44001 certification standard and the behaviours described within, as a baseline for all our projects.  This includes collaboration between our internal teams as well as external clients and consultants.

The standard requires organisations to consider all aspects of a potential business relationship, including strengths and weaknesses, the type of support they need to achieve their goals, the levels of risk that each party is willing to take, and the potential consequences of something going wrong. The standard also demands that a plan is put in place to manage each of these elements at the beginning of the relationship, so in the event of one of the aforementioned scenarios occur, there is an agreed process to follow. This improves the level of trust among partners and ensures that the necessary steps are taken to safeguard and improve business relationships.

In 2018, we were asked to help Scottish Water in their quest to become the first water utility in the UK to achieve ISO 44001 certification. We created a relationship management plan and exit strategy which would form the basis of collaboration discussions with partners. First, we assessed Scottish Water’s existing internal procedural documents, including those specific to Alliance Management. These were mapped to the requirements of the standard to demonstrate best practice and that the appropriate considerations were in place. By doing so, we avoided the need to create a suite of new documents and procedures specifically for the certification process, ensuring already embedded processes and best practice were maximised, which also led to significant time and cost savings. The certification was confirmed at the start of 2019 and Scottish Water became the first water utility in the UK to achieve the ISO 44001 certification.

Building upon this success, we continued working with Scottish Water to strengthen their use of ISO 44001 by supporting the certification of its alliance partner Caledonia Water Alliance (CWA), an unincorporated joint venture (JV) between Morrison Utility Services and AECOM.  The partnership has worked with Scottish Water since 2015, delivering the six year, SR15 Water Infrastructure programme across the whole of Scotland, supporting Scottish Water’s future quality and standards capital investment programme.  The strong partnership was created by a core team from both companies that worked together to create a single entity that could demonstrate not only the values of each parent company but also a unified and coordinated approach to delivering the programme of works.

Operating from a central office north of Glasgow, the JV is working with Scottish Water and its supply chain and stakeholders to deliver optimum project efficiency to maximise cost benefit, while minimising disruption to customers. Throughout the first five years of the programme, CWA has delivered approximately £340 million worth of projects ranging from £50 thousand to £75 million in individual value. Throughout this period, CWA has provided tangible benefits to the client and its customers, which led to the partnership being awarded the SR21 contract for delivery of both the Clean- and Wastewater Infrastructure programme for 2021-2027. CWA’s success has been widely recognised and the project was shortlisted for a Water and Wastewater Treatment (WWT) Water Industry Award 2020 in the Alliancing and Partnership Initiative of the Year category.

Our work with Scottish Water, and as part of CWA, clearly evidences the benefits of driving ISO 44001 through companies and wider supply chains. Enhanced collaboration, which is at the core of our business, is essential to build the trust necessary to create lasting professional relationships. The ability to work together seamlessly and to develop sustainable and trusted relationships is integral to delivering on our core values, and allows us to drive technical, commercial and process innovation to integrate better with those we work alongside.

Originally published Sep 1, 2020

Author: Richard O'Connor