PORT 2020C/The story of the Competition

Early Years Later Years
Period 5
Period 6
Period 7
Period 8
Period 9
Period 10
Period 11


PERIOD 5:  "'Future Axis' take the narrowest of leads"

After a period of intensive trialling the University of Portsmouth (Campus based) Enginuity 2020 Competition is underway, with a competitive field of 10 teams all battling for supremacy against their peers. And so to the early action, and the pacesetters after impressive 36% growth are "Future Axis" with 1,360 pts. However, the early leaders cannot rest on their laurels with "BIGAS" only 1 point behind in second place, with "Cubix Construction" also very close on the heels of the pacesetters. It is early days, and there are sure to be plenty of twists in the weeks ahead as the journey through the Early Years unfolds.

The early signs are that the competition will be very competitive, with all the teams improving their overall position in period 5. However, this was not unexpected. After being formed at the beginning of period 1, overhead costs were incurred whilst the companies were being established, without any profits being generated. The companies were now in a position to generate profits against a more stable overhead base, and this was reflected in improved operating profits. Of course, growth will be impossible without an effective strategy, and all the management teams have had time to think about this carefully, and come up with a set of objectives to deliver business success for their stakeholders.

Looking in more detail at the world economies, 2019 saw some dramatic economic and political changes in the UK. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal was rejected several times by Parliament, and the UK did not exit the European Union as originally planned at the end of March. Theresa May then resigned, and Boris Johnson became the new PM, and promised to secure Brexit by the end of October, but his minority government's new Brexit deal was also thwarted. However, a majority victory in the General Election on December 12 for the Conservative Party opened the door for the UK to finally leave the European Union at the end of January 2020.
UK economic growth remained modest at 1.4% in 2019, with a projected long-term rate of around 2% providing that there is an orderly exit from the European Union. Consumer spending has continued to drive the economy, but the housing market has cooled and job creation is likely to slow during 2020, and business investment has been on a declining trend as a result of ongoing Brexit-related uncertainty and this is expected to continue until this is resolved. For the UK construction market uncertain times lie ahead, and growth will be hard earned.

Further afield, and unlike the UK, the Global economy grew quicker during 2019, at 3%, with 3.4% expected in 2020, However, the steady pace of expansion in the global economy masks an increase in downside risks that could potentially exacerbate development challenges in many parts of the world, according to the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019.
The global economy is facing a confluence of risks, which could severely disrupt economic activity and inflict significant damage on longer-term development prospects. These risks include an escalation of trade disputes, an abrupt tightening of global financial conditions, and intensifying climate risks.

League table at the end of period 5




PERIOD 6:  "A tough quarter see 'BIGAS' take a narrow lead at the top"

After the impressive growth figures posted in period 5, not unexpectedly period 6 proved to be a much tougher quarter. This was largely driven by the companies being unable to win as much work as they had previously, with the corresponding reduction in forward workload and margin KPIs. However, encouragingly 50% of the teams were still able to post positive growth figures, and there was lots of movement throughout the league table.

At the top of the table the two leaders swapped places with "BIGAS" taking over the lead with with 1,410 pts after 4% growth, the best posted in the quarter, but "Future Axis" are still close on their heels, with "Cubix Construction" holding firm in third. At the wrong end of the table the shareholders of the "Risky Raccoons Ltd" and "Nebula" are beginning to feel nervous as both companies struggled, for differing reasons, and they will be hoping for a return to growth in the next period. Business is often a roller coaster ride, learning from both successes and failures, and every management team will be looking closely at the decisions made in period 6 to make effective ones in the next round.

With KPI points hard earned it will become increasingly important that the management teams look very carefully at every aspect of their business for potential improvements, and those that are most successful in doing so should prosper the most. Two areas that the teams need particular attention are Marketing strategy and Procurement (rival bidders), which are discussed in more detail below.

Marketing is possibly the area of the business that requires the most thought, as there are numerous strategies that could be adopted. The market trend can only be gauged for one year ahead, and not always accurately, and as marketing departments are expanded, the choices of where to direct the marketing effort are wide ranging, by sector, country and job size. The task is not an easy one, but has a major impact upon procurement options, and the future work undertaken, and ultimately on the long term prosperity of the company.

Another important consideration is that rival bidders do not necessarily stick with the same bidding strategy, and as time goes by they can change their strategy according to market conditions. This makes it imperative that teams keep a close eye on the margins rival bidders are applying, and how they may be changing. Evaluating these strategies could make the key difference between success in securing work, or not. To complicate matters even further there may be UNKNOWN rival bidders, and the only clues to these may be in the ENGINUITY NEWS NETWORK (ENN) for the period.

League table at the end of period 6
Improvements, or otherwise, during period 6




PERIOD 7:  "'BIGAS' going from strength to strength"

In the real world there may be a lot of turbulence and uncertainty, but not in the simulated world for "BIGAS", who remained top of the table in emphatic style after posting the joint best results in period 7, an impressive 11% growth that saw them pull away from the field with 1,567 pts. Behind them the chasing pack are now led by "Tri", who climbed 2 places, but they only hold a 3 point lead over the ever consistent "Cubix Construction", who held firm again in 3rd. Further down the table "SCE (Social construction engineers)" enjoyed an excellent quarter as they matched the leaders with 11% growth. And both the "Risky Raccoons Ltd" and "Nebula" responded well to previous declines with positive growth figures, much to the relief of their major stakeholders, the latter now tied with "Platinum".

The next period is the last one of the Early Years, and a crucial one for all the teams as they have one last round to strengthen their business before they enter the unpredicatabilty of the Later Years that lie ahead, and every decision needs to be carefully considered.

IEWP = SUCCESS

A leading industry think tank have come up with a simple formula for running a successful construction business.

  1. IDENTIFY new work
  2. EXPAND the infrastructure (capital base) of the company to take on more work
  3. WIN new work through competitive bidding
  4. PROFITABLY PROGRESS of the jobs won
It sounds so simple in theory, but in practice it is much far harder to achieve. Most teams prove to be more than competent in the first two areas, identify new work and expanding the infrastructure, but the bidding and successful job progression proves more challenging. Winning new work is not easy with so many known and unknown rival bidders working in different sectors and locations, and progressing jobs through to successful completion is hindered many things, such as finding suitable project managers, labour scheduling and overcoming the many obstacles that can occur, such as delays caused by risks strking. Steady growth also requires replacing work progressed with at least the same amount of work again, and this is often the hardest factor of all to get right. The teams can take some comfort from knowing that many management teams in the real world also struggle for consistent growth, and at least in the virtual world it is not critical, although it may feel like it at times!

Another essential part of running a successful business is being able to form an effective Risk Management Strategy to keep the business as profitable as possible. This can take a number of forms, firstly by building sensible risk contingencies into the original bids based upon the likelihood and cost of the risks occurring. Secondly, and just as importantly is mitigating the affects of any risks that strike through targeted investment into risk management companies, using a BIM model if available, and employing the most suitable project managers to jobs in progress. However, even when these mitigating actions are taken, risk can still be costly to job and company profits, and during period 7 problems with site access isssues affected the erection of new onshore wind turbines for the client, First Wind USA, near Palm Springs, California, with an estimated risk cost of nearly 290k before mitigation.

League table at the end of period 7
Improvements, or otherwise, during period 7




PERIOD 8:  "'Future Axis' make a dramatic move as UNKNOWN bidders wreak havoc for many"

Period 8 saw major turbulence amongst many of the teams as a number of teams struggled to win new work, with UNKNOWN rival bidders such as The Crayford Road Group and Sharami International undercutting them, and those who put all their eggs in one basket by bidding for just a few jobs suffered the most.

However, there were some success stories, and most notably "Platinum" posted a stunning 24% improvement, the best in the quarter, that saw them surge 7 places up the table to second, but just above them the leaders from period 5, "Future Axis" made a dramatic move from 4th and back to top spot with 1,605 pts after an impressive 17% growth, and they ended the Early Years with a significant 63 point lead over their rivals, but that can easily be wiped away as the teams now enter the unpredictability of the second stage of the competition, known as the later years, when they go 'head to head' in direct competition against each other for work. Watch this space to see the outcome!

Further down the table previous leaders "BIGAS" were one of the teams to succumb to unknown bidders as they lost out on some key bids, slipping 2 places to 3rd, However, in a period when 50% of the teams posted declining fortunes, both "Cubix Construction" and those "Risky Raccoons Ltd" were 2 of the success stories with 6 and 10% growth respectively. The Competition really is reflecting the ups and downs that can occur in the real world being simulated.

Running a successful construction business requires effective internal decisions to be made, such as bidding competitively to win new work, and progressing jobs as profitably as possible. However, external economic, political and environmental WORLD EVENTS can also impact upon the business. Clues to some of the events, but not necessarly all of them, are reported in the ENGINUITY NEWS NETWORK (ENN) each period, and close examination of this valuable new source may influence the current and future strategy of the business.

League table at the end of period 8
Improvements, or otherwise, during period 8




PERIOD 9:  "'Future Axis' hold onto top spot as the Competition for work intensifies"

The teams are now in the second stage of the competition, known as the later years, when they go 'head to head' in direct competition against each other. With the increased level of competition for new work in the later years, each company needs a successful procurement strategy, and the effectiveness of the decisions and strategies taken in the early years are put to the test. In particular, the marketing decisions assume added significance, and a company can obtain a competitive advantage by finding niche markets, and building strong client relationships to gain repeat business when price is not the only deciding factor in tender awards.

Despite the increased competition for work, period 9 saw some encouraging results, with more success stories than there were. At the top of the table "Future Axis" held onto top spot with 1,666 pts after modest 4% growth. However their lead was halved as "BIGAS" and "Cubix Construction" both grew by 7% in 2nd and 3rd respectively, and "Tri" moved up 2 places to 4th after a stunning 17% improvement, the best in the quarter, helped largely by 2 new contract awards, both of which were secured with superior client relationships than their rivals after close bidding, with one of them being a large 24m building and commercial job with Val Mart in the United States. Only 67 points now separate the top 4 teams with just two rounds to go, and it is all to play for.

Despite the encouraging results from 60% of the teams, there were a number of casualties due to the increased competition for work with 3 teams failing to secure any new work, and they will need to adapt quickly to the intensified bidding, as well making sure their marketing department is well equipped and staffed to identify more jobs in order to give themselves more bidding opportunities. However, no-one should despair at this stage as the only certainty in these uncertain times is that there will be a lot more volatility in the league table in the remaining 2 rounds. Watch this space!

League table at the end of period 9
Improvements, or otherwise, during period 9
Bidding results for period 9




PERIOD 10:  "'Future Axis' cement their position at the top"

The penultimate round of the competition saw no changes in the leading six positions, but it may have seen the most decisive event so far as "Future Axis" pulled away from the chasing pack to extended their lead at the top to over 100 points with 1,742 pts after 5% growth. Their nearest rivals, "BIGAS" and "Cubix Construction" in 2nd and 3rd respectively were unable to match the leaders, although they are still in a battle for what could be the runners up spot, although it would still be a brave man who would bet on the final outcome.

At the other end of the table it was a great round for "Nebula", who recovered in some style from a poor previous quarter by posting the best results, an impressive 12% improvement that lifted them up 3 places and off the foot of the table. The shareholders of "Ignite" will also be encouraged by 6% growth, and a whopping 4 new contract awards totalling 25m, and as the teams head down the home strait they will all be hoping for a strong finish.

League table at the end of period 10
Improvements, or otherwise, during period 10
Bidding results for period 10




PERIOD 11:  "Veni, vidi, vici!"

"I Came, I Saw, I Conquered". Way back in history, Julius Caesar's sent those famous words in a message back to the Roman Senate in recognition of an overwhelming victory. And so it was for "Future Axis", who extended their lead at the top of the table in the final round to deservedly become the University of Portsmouth (Campus based) Enginuity 2020 Champions with an impressive finishing score of 1,816 pts, and their success owed much to them demonstrating one of the guiding principles in running a successful business, consistency, as they had led the Competition for 5 of the 7 rounds.

Behind the Champions, it was a lot tighter, with "Cubix Construction" posting the best results in the final round, 5% growth, to move up one place and claim the Runners Up spot, with "BIGAS" dropping back to third, but only 20 points behind, and "Tri" finishing 4th.

In the final analysis nearly every team finished with stronger, more sustainable companies than when they took over in period 5, a testament to the skill and application shown by the management teams in what was a roller coaster of a journey through nearly 2 simulated years of management.

Individual league table after period 11
Improvements, or otherwise, during period 11
Bidding results for period 11