Efficient and Economically Beneficial Project Implementation – Formation of Pool of Experts

Artūrs Caune, Project Manager at RB Rail AS
Artūrs Caune, Project Manager at RB Rail AS (photo: Edijs Pālēns, LETA).

The Rail Baltica project demands high level expertise in variety of fields, therefore the main coordinator of the project RB RAIL AS is looking for efficient solutions to attract the missing experts. One of the ways how RB RAIL AS is approaching this issue is by announcing an open competition for expert services to support the Rail Baltica project. This is only the first competition of this kind with an aim to provide implementers with an access to a pool of approximately 90 independent experts employed on-demand basis. Artūrs Caune, Project Manager at RB RAIL AS, is certain that the chosen approach is a vital element for implementation of such a large-scale project that requires amount of work and level of expertise that the Baltics have never seen before. In an interview he also explains the employment model of the external experts, its implementation and turns his attention to the main advantages of this approach.

–         Why was the competition “Expert service” announced? What is the added value of this approach?

Projects of this character and scale always have large teams that need to cover wide-spectrum of competencies. Our goal is to find and secure the required specific technical and geographical expertise. Involvement of external experts in the Rail Baltica project implementation within its current development phase is one of the most efficient and qualitative ways to fulfil the established tasks. The main goal to involve external experts is linked to the opportunity to access high level expertise that will increase competences and capabilities of the internal specialists.

–         What is the difference between experts that will be employed on-demand from those who is working in the company permanently?

We are ambitious. Therefore, we are looking for talented and strong internal resources, however, the amount of work in the project is enormous. External experts will act as a complementary resource that can be involved in variety of smaller task which announcement in separate competitions would prove to be inefficient due to unnecessary involvement of HR for the management of administrative procedures, as well as it would also put a huge administrative burden on the participants of engineering consultation market.

The external experts will provide technical support and consultations for our employees so the best results can be achieved or the best possible time frames can be secured. We will be able to attract experts for a certain period of time or even for fixed number of consultation days. The model is based on effectiveness considerations – in those fields of expertise where specialists are not required on full-time basis, external experts will be called in.

–         How many and what kind of experts are planned to be hired?

We have announced a competition for professionals within 32 fields of expertise. It covers environmental science, spatial planning, engineering surveying, design, construction management, railway business, economics and etc.  Altogether we plan to attract almost 90 experts. This means that on average we will have an access up to 3 professionals at each field of expertise. The open competition is build in a manner so it allows us to also further choose the most appropriate expert for each task as they will have to compete among themselves again for completion of each task. Moreover, it is necessary to take into account the availability of experts. As we cannot determine the exact time when we will be able to employ professionals of each particular field, we need to understand that high level experts might not be accessible right away.

Involvement of external experts is the most efficient and financially beneficial way how to accomplish the assigned tasks. The number of experts that we are looking with a help of the open competition only seems to be large. What needs to be understood is that they will be employed for relatively short period of time and on different basis than full-time employees. Another thing that has to be taken into account is that the employment of each expert depends on his or her competencies, the project development as well as the overall agenda. None of them have guaranteed working hours, however, at times when the experts will be needed their involvement will be very substantial.

–         When is the expert involvement in the project planned?

Proposals have been received and right now the assessment process is ongoing. Once it will be finished, framework agreements will be signed for the provision of services. At this stage of the project, the involvement of the independent expertise is of high importance. The fields of expertise included in the first open competition intends to attract those experts that are needed in the nearest future. They will take part in the project planning and designing phases, as well as partly in construction phase activities. The required expertise that are under the competition corresponds to the procurement plan published in the project’s website. Primarily, experts will be involved in preparation of procurements and their implementation processes, as well as contract execution management and supervision activities. Technical specialization is correspondent to our current agenda. With time, the agenda will change. This definitely is not the whole expertise that we need for the project and it is only the first open competition of this kind. The same or conceptually similar procurements with limitation on employment term and finances will follow. With this particular procurement we want to understand the offer of the industry in order to plan next procurements more efficiently. 

–      What kind of tasks will the external experts do and what will be the conditions under which they will be employed?

Of course tasks will differ according to the field of expertise. Few of the examples are small scale studies and technical support, preparation of procurements and subsequently also contract management.

Within the given contracting term and defined finances, we will be able to attract one expert to variety of tasks. Execution deadlines for each task will differ based on the level of task complexity. Definitely, there is going to be multi-disciplinary or geographically complex tasks that will require distribution of responsibilities among several experts.

These professionals will be employed on-demand basis. They will have fixed hourly rates and every time they will be needed, we will precisely define their task, expected results and deadlines. As I already mentioned earlier, in each field of expertise we will have an access to up to 3 experts. Thus, for each task an additional competition will be carried out to choose the candidate who can handle it within the fastest deadlines and in the most efficient manner. 

–      In regards to overall qualification requirements, are experts from the Baltics able to compete with the expertise from abroad?

I think that they can. Requirements are proportional and experts within the Baltic region can compete with foreign experts. Many of the Baltic experts work internationally and are part of the global market. For us it is essential that high level of expertise is offered and the Baltic experts definitely can deliver it. What is more, we will be very happy if we will manage to attract experts from the Baltics who are complying with our requirements as they are more accessible which also positively affects their fee. For the Baltic specialists who haven’t worked abroad it will be harder to comply with the expected level of experience and expertise. However, at the same time we can look at it as to conditions under which implementation of Rail Baltica will bring to the region wide-spectrum of knowledge and competences that are appreciated globally.