Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Project Title

Improving Supplier Relationship Management in the AEC Sector


Asite Solutions Ltd


Dr Francis Edum-Fotwe
Dr Kirti Ruikar

Mr Chris Peters
Mr Nathan Doughty

Director of Research:
Professor Stephen Ison

Research Period

2011 - 2015

Twitter: twitter.com/mesut_p

Blog: cscm-research.blogspot.co.uk

Improving Supplier Relationship Management in the AEC Sector


Asite provide collaborative Software as a Service (cSaaS) predominantly to the Architectural, Engineering, Construction and Property sectors within the areas of Sourcing, Project Management and Procurement throughout the Supply Chain. Due to their recent international expansion and the subsequent demand for additional Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) services to support and complement their existing portfolio of applications including cBIM, Asite are seeking to explore and develop an advanced SRM software provision for the sector. Such a solution is both essential to supporting the AEC industry’s challenge to improve Supplier Relationship Management and promote Early Supplier Engagement. The Early Supplier Engagement portion of the project aims to join the design and procurement elements of Building Information Modelling process to give designers access to supplier products at earlier stages in the project lifecycle, thus improving efficiency. The recent UK Government Construction Strategy promotes effective Supplier Relationship Management in terms of pipeline visibility and a cascade of good practice down to sub-contractors used on public projects by 2016, meaning that this project will span the life-time of the delivery phase of that Government objective and should aim to feed into assisting the industry take up of SRM.


In May 2011, the UK Government took the decision to address Client Supplier relations to improve openness and collaboration (Morrell et al). They also mandated cascading of these good practices down to sub-contractors. Despite having supply chains with in some cases 15,000 different organisations, Supply Chain management has traditionally been seen by Contractor’s Procurement Teams as one-way tool for driving down costs often without reciprocal benefits. The level of competition between trade Contractors for the attention of the large general contractor’s and continued workload from them introduces a large overhead on all parties in trying to manage these relationships. The government view of SRM is for this to be a two-way process, whereby opening visibility of the pipe-line of potential work will forge longer-lasting and more economically beneficial relationships for both parties. In order to do this, systemised sharing of data is required to:

              a. Avoid favouritist
              b. Allow benchmarking of performance
              c. Remove silos of data being formed within large organisations.

With regards Early Supplier Engagement; as the industry moves towards wider usage of BIM on the back of the Government Construction Strategy, there exist opportunities for the efficiency of the design process to be further enhanced. At present, architects will specify componentry to be installed into a building, and the contractor will need to source products from their supply chain to meet these specifications. By exposing the designers to libraries of components that the Contractor can purchase and install from their supply chains as importable BIM objects, this whole cycle can be removed from the project process and great efficiencies gained.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of the research project is to investigate, identify and map the interactions between buyers and suppliers in the AEC sector to improve Supplier Relationship Management. The project objectives are:

  • To conduct a detailed literature review to investigate current state of the art in Supply Chains and Supplier Engagement within the AEC sector
  • Understand the effects on the UK industry of 2011 legislation regarding cascading of effective SRM processes (Morell report etc).
  • To conduct a detailed literature review to investigate current models for Supplier Engagement in the design process, and investigate the process savings achievable through Early Supplier Engagement.
  • Examine the systems, process and technologies currently being applied to existing projects and determine their effectiveness through both qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques.
  • Apply a scoping study approach to determine the industry’s SRM requirements.
  • Provide materials / findings to the UK / US industry to help support their adoption of the SRM process / technologies.
  • Use the acquired knowledge and data obtained from industry to define a roadmap of Supplier Engagement Processes throughout the lifecycle of Projects; identifying all key phases and user requirements along with process / technology gaps.*
  • Undertake client-based workshops to test and validate the proposed process map and key recommendations.*
  • Deliver technology solutions within the Asite platform to industry to meet demands / fill gaps. *

Certain aspects of the deliverables of the project (marked *) will be commercially sensitive to Asite and will therefore not be publishable until go-to-market of the technology solutions to be delivered alongside this project.


It is anticipated the following methods will be used to collect quantitative and qualitative data on existing approaches to Supplier Relationship Management and Supplier Engagement Models to identify gaps and improvement areas to meet research objectives as stated above:-

  • Open and close ended questionnaires developed by the researcher for the project;
  • Interviews with various clients, project teams and key industry personnel with responsibility for Procurement and Supply Chain Management
  • Project case studies of various Asite projects;
  • Process mapping and validation workshops at various stages of the project.

Benefits/Expected Outcomes

The outcomes of the project are expected to support Asite and Industry in:

  • Improving knowledge and understanding of the whole-life cBIM process.
  • Assisting the UK industry in meeting Government objectives relating to SRM
  • Acquiring a validated model for Supplier Engagement.
  • Enabling development of additional systems, support services and technology provisions.
  • Contribute to the take up and efficiency of BIM within the AEC Sector
  • Product Management of technology solution delivery (assisting Product Development Director)
  • Delivering excellent technology products to market to fulfil the requirements of the industry.

Pala, M., Edum-Fotwe, F, Ruikar, K., Peters, C. and Doughty, N. (2012), “Achieving Effective Project Delivery Through Improved Supplier Relationship Management,” in Javernick-Will, A. and Mahalingham, A. (Eds.), Working Paper Proceedings. Engineering Project Organisations Conference, Rheden, Netherlands, EPOS, pp. 1–12.

Pala, M., Edum-Fotwe, Francis, Ruikar, K., Peters, C. and Doughty, N. (2012), “Improving Supplier Relationship Management Within the AEC Sector,” in Smith, S. (Ed.), 28th Annual ARCOM Conference, Edinburgh, ARCOM, pp. 707–717.



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