Regular readers of our BRS blog would know that we are very passionate about the building of commercial capability in staff in the public sector and their supply chain partners including contractors and consultants.  We have written extensively about this linking it to the aspirational goal of every infrastructure delivery agency which is being a mature and intelligent client.  A recent blog on what being a mature and intelligent infrastructure delivery agency means can be found here.

A breakdown of the key elements that make up being a mature and intelligent infrastructure delivery government agency can be found here.

The two blogs above really identify what a mature and intelligent infrastructure delivery agency is and why it is so important.  What most infrastructure delivery agencies struggle with is how to get there.  That is, how do we go from where the organisation is at, in terms of their current staff capability and capacity, to where we need to be in terms of being a mature and intelligent infrastructure delivery agency?  The answer lies in having a commercial capability framework which I will work through in this blog.

A commercial capability framework is a tool to define, assess and measure commercial skills and competencies of staff in your infrastructure delivery agency.  It provides guidance on the desired commercial behaviours, skills and expertise required at different levels of organisations to deliver successful project outcomes.  It provides a framework to measure commercial skills in a consistent and transparent manner to build the capability and capacity of your people and organisations.

A commercial capability framework contains key elements that underpin commercial skills which include:

  • Relationships with stakeholders and the supply chain;
  • Financial and commercial management;
  • Project risks and opportunities;
  • Procurement models and strategies;
  • Contracts and commercial alignment; and
  • Budgets and variations.

There are different levels of commercial capability described in a commercial framework that set the levels required for different roles and needs of each organisation.

In addition to the elements above, the commercial capability framework also identifies the commercial behaviours consistent with each level of commercial capability.  The behaviours combined with the skills required are both important in ensuring there is a balance between people and task in the successful delivery of project outcomes.

The commercial capability framework needs to be tailored for each infrastructure delivery agencies unique circumstances, organisation and projects.  It then will help to:

  • Shape position and role descriptions in recruitment;
  • Assist in the development of personal development plans in identifying commercial capability gaps and what training and support we can provide to staff;
  • Identify gaps in commercial capability in teams and how we build internal and external capability to address them;
  • To identify what commercial capability training is needed across the workforce and also for key individuals; and
  • To assist with long term work force planning to meet the infrastructure pipeline of projects across organisations and industries to ensure we have the commercial capability and capacity to successfully deliver.

The key with any successful commercial capability and capacity building exercise is to know what your target is.  What skills and behaviours are we looking to develop that will achieve our goal of becoming a mature and intelligent infrastructure delivery agency that our supply chain want to work with?  We do this by being very clear and intentional around the elements, skills and behaviours and have the conversations internally around the support we are going to provide to our individuals and teams that work in our organisations.  Our staff can then know where they are at and what they can do to get to where they want to in building their commercial skills to deliver successful infrastructure project outcomes.

A great example from one of our clients who has done this outstandingly well is the Office of Projects Victoria.  We have partnered with them to undertake commercial capability training across 21 Victorian Government infrastructure delivery agencies.  They have developed up a commercial capability framework for all of their infrastructure delivery agencies to tailor and use to assist them in the goal of enhancing the Victorian public sector commercial capability.  Their commercial capability framework and commercial capability training links can be found here.

Commercial capability is a major gap that needs to be addressed by all infrastructure delivery agencies.  Commercial acumen is a skill that can be taught but it needs to be intentional and focussed on the skills and behaviours required by an organisation that is on the path to being a mature and intelligent client.

If you would like to learn more about this partnership with the Office of Projects Victoria, here is the link to our case study.