Q&A: Chris Sheel, Manager of Procurement Services, City of Vernon
With a project scope described as "NHL size", Kal Tire Place was a major project for the City of Vernon and Chris Sheel's team.
Here's how they tackled the project's procurement process, including a couple words of advice for other procurement specialists.
Thanks again for meeting with us. Let's start with a brief description of the project and its scope.
The project consists of, but is not limited to, the construction of an additional ice surface at the existing Kal Tire Place in Vernon, B.C. The addition includes a new NHL size ice surface and seating for 400. The main floor will have a front lobby with administrative office, a concession, public washrooms, change room facilities and elevator.
Sounds like a great building. Now in a sentence or two, what do you think is the secret to a successful procurement process?
Apply SMART principles and document a clear set of realistic objectives early on in the planning process. Schedule timely and thorough consultation between procurement and the client to ensure thorough understanding and intelligently customize the procurement process to match the project need.
You were recognized for many best practices. Which of them was the biggest challenge and why?
The City of Vernon is committed to conducting procurements of all kinds that ensure integrity, fairness and transparency. Conducting business in this manner means it was not difficult at all to align with BCCA best practices. Owners and Contractors must trust each other at some point and that aspect of the relationship starts with a fair defendable bid process. One thing that we did differently on this project was the disclosure of the Construction budget. We look to do more of it in the future most likely as a "budget range".
What advice would you give other public sector procurement professionals?
I would say:
- Know when to seek and pay for unbiased professional expertise to create detailed scopes of work and quantities.
- A weak Scope of Work creates huge risk to both Owner and Contractor and holds potential peril for both.
- Understand market conditions and where your project's scope and schedule may fit best.
- Ask lots of questions and assume nothing.