Translink and HELP - social procurement case study
A partnership between TransLink Division (TransLink) and social enterprise, HELP Enterprises, has helped to support jobs and training opportunities for people with disability.
About HELP Enterprises (HELP)
HELP is a social enterprise that exists to enhance the lifestyle and independence of people who live with disability.
They operate a range of commercial businesses that currently provide employment to 350 individuals.
HELP’s commercial businesses include:
- supply chain services
- Oxford Park commercial nursery
- café and catering service.
As a modern social enterprise, HELP strikes a balance between their commercial operations and their disability support services to ensure they provide ongoing support both now and into the future.
Working with government
HELP first became aware of the TransLink contract through the Queensland Government QTenders website. HELP is notified by QTenders when any opportunities arise that are within the scope of their capabilities and specialisation.
The tender process for HELP was clearly planned with all relevant requirements clearly articulated.
HELP’s partnership with TransLink first began in 2013 when TransLink was in search of effective storage and distribution for a wide range of collateral, including timetables, go card wallets, merchandise and infrastructure such as J Poles (the yellow/white poles that are fixed at bus stops with a timetable attached).
HELP’s Eagle Farm and Crestmead Warehouses have the state-of-the-art supply chain services, systems and facilities, well positioned to receive and manage the distribution of TransLink’s collateral and infrastructure items to over 500 different sites statewide.
Winning the tender
In late 2017, TransLink sought offers from suppliers to replace the existing storage and distribution services contract for a term of two years.
After a full open tender process, multiple submissions were received and ultimately, HELP was again selected as the successful supplier due to value for money and performance.
The new contract also included the development of a purpose-built website and online ordering system to streamline the ordering process.
This partnership continues in 2021 with TransLink increasing scope to include the TransLink ticketing equipment and a variation to the existing contract for an additional extension.
QTender evaluation criteria
TransLink applied a weighted evaluation criteria to the tender that looked at factors beyond price including local workforce and social outcome considerations.
Specifically, the evaluation criteria was:
Relevant experience, capability, capacity, and value add/innovation
Local workforce / subcontractors
The social criteria asked suppliers to provide information about their employment practices with regards to 'equal employment opportunity' for people with disability and traineeship or apprentice-based programs.
New opportunities created
HELP was able to leverage the purchase of the sophisticated warehouse software management systems required to manage the TransLink contract, with other contracts, giving a better return on investment.
Better cross-training opportunities have arisen for staff, with upskilling in new areas of the business being of particular focus.
Staff are actively engaged in a greater variety of roles and tasks. Staff satisfaction has increased, with staff taking a keen interest in the products they warehouse and distribute – they get to see these being used by friends, family, and the wider community.
Advice from HELP
HELP recommends that all social enterprises actively engage with the procurement team during open market tender processes. As a social enterprise, the ability to seek more specific detail from procurement was critical to ensure that the tender HELP provided was fit for purpose.
Since starting in the logistics team one year ago, a big part of Nick's role has been dedicated to picking and packing orders for TransLink.
Nick’s teammate, Mitch has played an important role in helping Nick learn the ropes (when it comes to doing tasks like packing timetables, using the RF scanner, and picking Z cards), but he’s gotten the hang of things quickly – 'When the student becomes the master' joked Nick.
Nick began his career at HELP in the supply chain team, but it wasn’t long before he moved into logistics. He said, 'I never thought I would be able to progress so quickly in my job. It’s made me more confident and think, hey I can actually do stuff!'
Prior to starting at HELP Nick had many jobs but none that met his needs. Nick has found that working at HELP has given him a supportive environment where he can grow and progress in his career – something he had previously considered impossible.
As Nick's confidence has grown, he has not only been more open to sharing his ideas with the team, but he has also shown great initiative and leadership skills. He now helps to set weekly goals for the logistics team to guide their progress.
Nick is so happy in his job that he has also noticed positive changes in other areas of his life. Nick is more driven and has even started to pursue a healthier lifestyle outside of work, eating nutritious food and going to the gym. 'A healthy environment at work equals a healthy lifestyle. I’m so proud of the changes I’ve made'
Nick likes the mix of 'familiar' and 'new' tasks involved in picking and packing orders for TransLink as it gives him variety in his role. When he masters a new task, he feels calm and capable on the job – 'almost Zen!'
Sometimes he will time himself when he needs to pack big orders and race against his teammate Mitch. The guys like to throw around a bit of banter as they work and think up new ways to improve their current processes (like how to upcycle packaging). Nick and Mitch have worked together to create custom packaging for Translink orders to ensure items don’t get damaged in transit.
Nick says it's cool to see items like Z cards out in the world now that he knows all the hard work that goes into packaging them. He’s always looks out for them whenever he’s out and about, especially at the train station.
Mitch also began his career in supply chain before moving into the logistics team.
In his role Mitch works for many clients but enjoys the consistency and challenges involved in picking and packing Translink orders.
One of his favourite parts of the job is packing J poles for bus stop signs. The poles are quite heavy and can be tricky to unpack off the pallet, it’s a two-person job. Now that Mitch has his forklift licence, he can help out with the heavy lifting and work with his team mates to complete the task efficiently.
Mitch says being at HELP has given him the confidence to get out of his comfort zone and try new types of work. He feels appreciated and heard by his team and enjoys the responsibilities of his role.
When Mitch sees a Z card or timetable at his local train station, he gets a sense of satisfaction
– 'You get a strange sense of satisfaction just knowing that you’re the one who could’ve packed that Z card.'
Working side by side with Nick and other members of the logistics team has allowed Mitch to build some great friendships. He likes to crack a joke with the guys and knows that when they get a big order, they’ll band together to get the job done.