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Early Years Later Years

PERIOD 5:  "'JARP Construction' are the early pacesetters"

After a period of intensive trialling the Oxford Brookes University Enginuity 2023 Competition is underway, with a competitive field of teams all battling for supremacy against their peers. And so to the early action, and the pacesetters after impressive 37% growth are "JARP Construction" with 1,366 pts but the chasing pack are very close behind, led by "Not My Job Ltd" and "Ecnon Construction Inc" in 2nd and 3rd respectively. However, it is early days, and there are sure to be plenty of twists ahead as the journey through the Competition 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.

2023 was a turbulent year for the UK, both politically and economically. Rishi Sunak became the third Conservative Prime Minister in 12 months in October, and the surge in demand post COVID, coupled with goods and energy supply problems caused largely by Brexit and the Russia-Ukraine war, caused a cost of living crisis with soaring inflation and rising interest rates.
The upshot was that many observers, including the influential CBI, predicted that the UK economy could contract by 0.4% in 2023, with further interest rates rises, weak productivity, a continuing squeeze on consumer spending and inflation expected to stay above the Bank of England’s target, although it is expected to peak during the year.

Further afield global economic activity is experiencing a broad-based and sharper-than-expected slowdown, with inflation higher than seen in several decades. The cost-of-living crisis, tightening financial conditions in most regions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic all weigh heavily on the outlook.
Global growth is forecast to slow from 3.2% in 2023 to 2.7% in 2023, with challenges to be faced including the potential of higher financing costs, heightened financial market volatility, inflation risks driven by rebounding growth and supply-chain bottlenecks, ongoing labour shortages and intensifying climate risks.

League table at the end of period 5

PERIOD 6:  "All change at the top as the 'JACE Group' take control"

After the impressive growth figures posted in period 5, not unexpectedly period 6 proved to be a much tougher quarter, caused by the teams being unable to win as much work as they had previously, with the corresponding reduction in forward workload and margin KPIs.

However, encouragingly over 50% of the teams were still able to post positive growth figures, and none more so than "Brookes The Builder" who posted a really impressive 11% growth, the best in the round, to catapult themselves from the bottom of the table and up to second, but it was not quite enough to catch the new leaders, the "JACE Group", whose 8% growth enabled them to move 9 places up the table to takeover top spot with 1,431 pts. Previous leaders "JARP Construction" dropped back to 3rd, but still well in contention. At the other end of the table "Bricked Up" are already facing the possibility of a shareholder revolt after a 15% decline, but that was largely down to picking up just a small amount of new work, but they could easily rectify that with a more aggressive bidding strategy in the next period.

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:  "'Brookes the Builder' cement themselves at the top"

Period 7 proved to be one of highs and lows, with two teams in particular taking the plaudits for the former. "Brookes the Builder", who were at the foot of the table at the end of period 5, now sit at the top of the table after posting the best results in the period, an impressive 8% improvement that enabled them to move up one place and become the third consecutive different leaders with 1,524 pts. Further down the table, "Stratton Oakmont, Inc" made the best positional gain, moving up 7 places to 4th, and well away from the wrong end of the table.

Behind the new leaders the "JACE Group" dropped back to second, but still well in contention, and "Not My Job Ltd" climbed one place to 3rd, but the table is beginning to get strung out now, with a few teams starting to take their eyes of the ball, particularly in letting jobs fall behind, and which can then never be brought back on schedule due to over manning limits above planned labour levels each period. At the wrong end of the table "Bricked Up" held off a shareholder revolt after posting positive growth figures, which enabled them to close in on the teams above them.

The teams now have one more round where it is easier to grow the business before they are thrown into the cauldron of the Later Years, when work is scarcer as they are bidding against the other 'human' teams, and only one team can potentially win each job. Now is the time to think very carefully about those period 8 decisions, which need to be very effective to position the business ready to be able to survive the Later Years. We shall see who has got what it takes!


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 structural defects affected the construction of a new health spa for the client, Orlando Adventure World, in the United States, with an estimated risk cost of around 280k before mitigation.

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

PERIOD 8:  "The 'JACE Group' back in the driving seat after a roller coaster round"

Period 8 proved to be a roller coaster of a round, but encouragingly over half of the teams were able to post positive growth figures. The stand out performance came from the "JACE Group", whose stunning 14% growth enabled them to return to the top of the table with a highly impressive 1,680 pts, giving them a 125 point lead over "Brookes the Builder", who slipped back to second. The top two are now well clear of the rest of the field, but that can all change very quickly in the Later Years!

"Not My Job Ltd" and "JARP Construction" and are tied in 3rd, and not far behind "DWRJ Construction" made the biggest positional gain, a 5-place rise after an impressive 10% improvement, and further down the table some of the management teams have taken their eyes off the ball, particularly when it comes to finishing jobs as profitably as possible, and this could cost them further if they do not address this key decisiona area soon.

The teams now face the unpredictability of the Later Years, in which they will be competing for work against each other, and there is still all to play for before the identity of the 2023 Oxford Brookes' Champions is known, with 4 tense and competitive rounds ahead, in which KPI points can quickly be eroded away as the increased pressure of the 'Head to Head' puts endurance, team dynamics and company strategies to the ultimate test.

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

PERIOD 9:  "'JARP Construction' put pressure on the faltering leaders"

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, and difficulties for a number of teams, there were some successes, and none more significantly than for the leaders back in period 5, "JARP Construction", whose 6% improvement saw them close in on the leaders, the "JACE Group" and "Brookes the Builder", who both faltered as the competition for work bit, although "JACE Group" held onto their lead with 1,559 pts.

Further down the table the management team of "Stratton Oakmont, Inc" showed great resilience to recover from a decline in the previous period to post the bext results in the round, an impressive 7% growth at this stage to climb 2 places, and into a mid table battle with a number of other teams. At the wrong end of the table the pressure is mounting on the management team of "I'm Bricked Up", who became the first team to fall below their starting position, largely down to picking up just a small amount of new work, but they could easily rectify the situation with a more aggressive bidding strategy in the next period.

There were a number of casualties due to the increased competition for work with 3 teams failing to secure any new work, including the leaders, and they will need to adapt quickly to the intensified bidding, as well making sure that 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 3 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:  "'Not My Job Ltd' prove just the job!"

Encouragingly Period 10 saw every team win at least one job, perhaps indicating that the management teams are beginning to get to grips with the intensity and competitiveness of the bidding in the Later Years. Marketing strategies also comes heavily into focus, along with client relationships, with jobs being won or loss depending upon client relationship if bidding is close.

Although everyone won some new work, it was nearly 1 new job across the board except for "Not My Job Ltd" and "Ecnon Construction Inc" with 3 and 2 new contract awards respectively. For "Not My Job Ltd" this was a decisive factor in propelling them 5 places up the table after an outstanding 13% improvement, easily the best in the period, and into top spot with 1,541 pts, and a healthy 44 point lead over their nearest challengers. It was also reward for their consistency so far, having been in 2nd, 4th, 3rd, 3rd, 6th and now 1st in the previous 6 rounds.

The chasing pack are led by "Brookes the Builder", staying put in second, closely followed by previous leaders "JACE Group", as both teams fell back slightly with negative growth. "DWRJ Construction" remained in 4th, but closed the gap on the teams above them. At the wrong end of the table "I'm Bricked Up" recovered from the woes of the previous period after securing a large 12m job with the Mumbai Regeneration Group in India, but they cannot rest on their laurels as they are still in a preilous position, but the green shoots of recovery are there.

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

PERIOD 11:  "The 'JACE Group' back in control going into the Final Round"

After their slight decline in period 10, the management team of the "JACE Group" did not panic, and came storming back in period 11 with a sensational 18% improvement, the best by any team, to reassert themselves firmly back at the top of the leaderboard with 1,747 pts going into the final round. "Brookes the Builder" held onto second place after a solid 9% growth, with both the leading teams winning 3 new contract awards each, and destiny of this year's title is looking to be between the two of them, but previous leaders "Not My Job Ltd" will not give up hope.

Period 11 was a mixed story in terms of growth, and the shareholders of "Not My Job Ltd" will be particularly pleased after the company's impressive 11% improvement, and the biggest rise up the table, as they climbed 4 places to 6th. It was a tough round for some teams trying to win new work, with 4 teams failing to secure any new contracts, including at the wrong end of the table "I'm Bricked Up", who sadly slipped further away from the rest of the field. However, their management team do have one major challenge in the final round. Can they recover to at least the starting point way back in period 5 i.e., 1,000 KPI points, which in itself will be a major achievement. To do so they will have to look carefully at their bidding strategy, and in particular their margins, which are proving uncompetitive in the later Years.

League table at the end of period 11
Improvements, or otherwise, during period 11
Bidding results for period 11

PERIOD 12:  "Timing proves decisive as 'Brookes The Builder' are crowned Champions!"

After taking what seemed like an unassailable lead going into the final round, behind the scenes the "JACE Group" had almost filled their order book, and the amount of work that their Capital Base could support, and this limited the amount of work they could win in period 12, opening the door for "Brookes the Builder", with 6% growth to replace them at the top of the table to become the Oxford Brookes University Enginuity 2023 Champions with an impressive finishing score of 1,724 pts, and a decisive margin of victory of well over 100 points.

Behind the top two "Bricking It" moved up one place to 3rd, with "Not My Job Ltd" dropping back to 4th. The best performance in the final round, 8% growth, came jointly from "Nailed It Construction" and "Bricked Up", with the former winning 3 new contracts, and and encoragingly 11 of the 13 teams picked up some new work.

In the final analysis 12 of the 13 teams 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 2 simulated years of management, with the second one particularly tough with the increased pressure to win new work.

League table at the end of period 12
Improvements, or otherwise, during period 12
Bidding results for period 12

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