When it comes to local government projects, contractors are a key part of ensuring that the work is done right and on time. However, without a comprehensive contractor management strategy to mitigate risk, councils can find themselves on the hook for problems that could have been avoided.
To provide insights for our members, we spoke to Geoff Hoad, Chief Safety Officer at Blacktown City Council, to learn more about their contractor management strategy, and to find out what they’ve learned through their experience.
Risk management isn’t just about avoiding potential problems — it’s about creating resilient and adaptable strategies and programs that can thrive in the face of challenges. At CivicRisk Mutual, we see the value in preparing for the unexpected by identifying and managing risks early, before they can cause damage.
When Geoff explained Blacktown City Council’s approach to mitigating risks within their contractor management program, he shared a similar perspective.
“Contractor management has always been a weak point for our council. We identified a combination of systems and processes as the biggest failure points. Internal systems didn’t guide people through the process very well and there were no systems to help with things such as pre-qualification and retention of current insurance information.”
And that’s how to build resilience in your organisation. Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s much easier to get started on a solution. When you’re building resilience in your business, identifying where the holes are in your systems and processes is just as important as knowing how to fix them.
Geoff noted that while large, complex contracts are typically managed really well, small and medium-sized contracts often are paid less attention — even though they carry equal amounts of risk.
Blacktown City Council had previously divided its contractor management department into two areas: procurement and work health and safety (WHS). That process also helped them identify the gaps and make improvements in their contractor management processes.
“Whilst our procurement process wasn’t perfect, it still provided clear guidance on what to do. What our systems lacked was knowledge of WHS obligations and the resources needed to manage them,” Geoff explained.
With Mutual’s support, Blacktown City Council was able to purchase a contractor management module for their online WHS system. With an end-to-end approach to managing obligations, their staff can now monitor compliance and manage their contractor workforce with ease.
Blacktown City Council’s experience has shown us the value of a rigorous process for having solid risk controls and systems in place. As Geoff put it himself, “Resilience without these essential components is just hope and prayer, which are poor substitutes for risk management.”
Taking the time to identify risks, assess and take steps to mitigate them is something that we encourage all of our members to do. But this is only the beginning — the real power of this exercise lies in its potential to inspire and empower us to continue our journey toward greater resilience.
By embracing the lessons we’ve learned and applying them to our own work, we can create a culture of risk management that values creativity, innovation and continuous improvement.
If you’d like to learn more insights from our members and participate in the conversation, enquire with CivicRisk Mutual today. We’d love to hear from you!