Strategic planning sessions form main theme of conference
The underlying theme behind the Metals New Zealand conference in Tauranga in mid-May was to give members a chance to become involved in strategic planning to give the industry a better suck of the sav in projects in New Zealand and overseas.
Chairman Noel Davies led the debate when he displayed a chart showing rolling totals of heavy steel volumes and import value of plate, and then asked what level of advocacy HERA should undertake on behalf of the industry – 63 percent of those surveyed felt that HERA should be more active or a major HERA focus.
BERL economist Ganesh Nana presented a tender evaluation tool.
HERA director Wolfgang Scholz said the metals industry had an accepted place in New Zealand. He discussed working with China under the free trade agreement, saying that metal from China would be five percent cheaper than the new Zealand produced product, which would provide opportunities.
He referred to the earlier presentation on procurement by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ‘s Murray Heyrick, but said there was still a need to “hone our own business proposition. We have to differentiate our offering from that of the competition.”
Dr Scholz said quality and local knowledge were major points of difference, and that these points, if accurately accounted for, can make up a 10-20 percent cost difference where overseas competition was involved. Then it was the turn of PR practitioner Michelle Boag, who has been employed to assist Metals NZ with its strategic development.
Ms Boag stated the objects of the strategy as:
- Extending the government procurement rules to all government agencies, SOEs and local government
- Promoting the role of industry participation plans and lead user innovation
- Achieving balanced decision making in the government procurement process, such as allowing for whole of life costing
She believed the environment for New Zealand steel fabricators was tough – even given the demand from the Christchurch rebuild – and mentioned factors such as high exchange rates, enhanced international competition due to low global demand, low shipping rates and the government’s FTA strategy.
She noted that there had been a move from adversarial to collaborative in the tendering and contract process. There was a need for Metals New Zealand to focus on consistent key messages, develop a stakeholder management strategy, focus on quality, service and delivery time. There was also a need to educate Metals New Zealand members on the implications of the new environment, focus and vocabulary.
Specific tactics included promoting articles in the media and engaging major contractors and project owners in public debate, a review of the communications of Metals NZ and its associates and a focus on monitoring and evaluation.
Ms Boag stated that there were four future challenges for Metals New Zealand. These were relationships, education of procurers, training of the organisation’s members, and resourcing support for these activities.