Victorian Major Projects Pipeline – good idea, but misses the mark

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The Victorian Major Projects Pipeline sounds excellent in concept, but does it truly provide the tools construction companies need to get in on Victoria’s Big Build?

Last week, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas announced the new Victorian Major Projects Pipeline – an online portal that purports to assist the Victorian construction sector in obtaining work from Victoria’s major projects.

Victorian Major Projects Pipeline

Essentially, this “one-stop-shop” is meant to be an easy and effective source of information for businesses to determine

  • where, amongst these major projects, opportunities exist for their products or services, and
  • when and how these businesses can compete for these opportunities in an environment where the prime contracts are won by the big players.

The Victorian Major Projects Pipeline is an excellent concept, as Victorian businesses, especially SMEs, are crucial to the health of our economy and the post-COVID recovery. However, my applause for this initiative is, unfortunately, muted.

I wonder if the three prominent people lauding the Victorian Major Projects Pipeline in the press release – the Treasurer, the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, and the CEO of the Office of Projects Victoria (OPV) – have actually used the portal? Because, if they have, they would realise how little value it offers a Victorian SME trying to navigate through the portal to a level of detailed information that provides them with actionable insights.

We are assuming, here, that the Victorian Major Projects Pipeline is most likely to be used by small to medium enterprises. Large Tier 1 companies tend to already have this information, courtesy of established and effective government engagement pathways. While it might appear the portal in its current guise is targeting Tier 1 companies, we question whether they’d actually use it.

SMEs, on the other hand, have to work harder to find ways of getting involved in these big projects. So, in theory, the information provided in the Victorian Major Projects Pipeline could indeed assist them to plan how to contribute to these major state construction projects.

What do SMEs need?

Let’s consider, then, what SMEs actually need. Yes they need to understand project description, project status and, if in procurement, when it’s likely to be released to market. So for that this portal gets a tick.

However, the portal would have more value to Victorian SMEs if it contained more specific information, or a process for companies to register interest in attending specific and detailed project briefings. Where the project is in delivery, it would be great to include Tier 1 details for SMEs to contact… Speaking of which, a link to the ICN Gateway portal would also be useful.

Additionally, what are the particular policy requirements a supplier is to meet? (For example, Social Procurement targets?) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it would be great for a contact point to be included – either in the relevant Department or the Industry Capability Network (ICN) – to enable a SME to speak to a real person about real project opportunities. This level of support can be transformative for local industry capability development.

At the moment, all the Victorian Major Projects Pipeline does is push a user to an existing project or Authority web site that contains general information or information more tailored to promoting the benefits of these projects, rather than the mode of delivery.

I have a deal of sympathy for the staff in OPV, which is to maintain the portal, who were probably given little time and few resources to produce it; the Victorian Major Projects Pipeline may indeed be a good example of how a good concept can be undone by poor execution if funds are limited.

I hope the Victorian Major Projects Pipeline, in its current state, is merely the first phase of a plan to progressively improve the portal and to ensure it is properly promoted to the Victorian construction sector as it looks to participate in these major projects.

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