British Standard BS 8534 on construction procurement

Constructing Excellence

One of the less well known but most useful British Standards for our sector is BS 8534:2011, “Construction procurement policies, strategies and procedures. Code of practice”. It gives recommendations and guidance on the development of policies, strategies and procedures for the procurement of construction in the built environment. Figure 1 shows the procurement framework set out in the Standard.

Constructing Excellence

British Standard BS 8534 – for public AND private sector organisations

The standard applies to public or private sector client organisations in the development of their procurement systems and down the supply chain. For the public sector the standard is fully consistent with the Cabinet Office new models of procurement and Infrastructure UK’s project initiation toolkit. Organisations with existing BS EN ISO 9000 accreditation should ensure they cite BS 8534 in the relevant part of their documentation.

Constructing Excellence and British Standard BS 8534

The BSI committee which produced the Standard was drawn largely from the Constructing Excellence network under the chairmanship of Richard Ward of Eversheds. In 2006 a joint project between Constructing Excellence and BSI under the heading of “Rethinking Construction Standards” sought to promote a move towards performance-based standards in the UK construction industry, and this Standard was the first outcome of this strategy.

David Hutchison of Parsons Brinckerhoff was lead author for the Standard and is now chairman of the BSI committee. He considers that the main objective was the creation of a framework for the development of procurement systems that facilitate fair competition, reduce the possibilities of abuse, improve predictability of outcome, and allow the demonstration of best value.

Don Ward of Constructing Excellence, secretary to the BSI committee, welcomed the Standard as particularly helping private sector clients large or small. He believes that it remains fully consistent with public sector guidance and will also be of value to contractors and consultants involved in advising clients or in selecting their own supply chain.

Key best practice principles enshrined in the Standard include the need for integration and collaborative working especially through early consultation and involvement of potential suppliers, a focus on value and certainly not ‘lowest price’, and the vision of procurement as a whole life function which extends into performance management and post-project review and evaluation.

For those interested in such things, the standard provides the UK-specific strategic ‘front end’ for the international standard BS ISO 10845 parts 1 and 2, which cover construction procurement in relation to processes, methods and procedures as well as the formatting and compilation of procurement documentation.

Joint blog by By David Hutchison of Parsons Brinckerhoff and Don Ward