Co-Lab Better Together

Case Studies

Quality Assurance


Quality Assurance improvements included a new QA Hub and internal auditing process. Without these improvements, councils would take longer to find solutions on their own and would continue to spend time on activities (such as “mock” IANZ audits) that do very little to progress process improvements.


The current Quality Manual was not fit for purpose; it didn’t meet all of Co-Lab’s WBCG Building Consent Authorities needs and was at risk for errors due to its complexity. IANZ was also regularly challenged by the time required to undertake their audits.


It was clear very quickly that the Quality Manual served to create more problems than solutions.

What was required was a high-level document that set out the regulatory requirements and policies that all BCA’s follow. Anything relating to the processes where individual BCA’s differ slightly (in a way that cannot be aligned for whatever reasons) needed to be removed. This would ensure that the Quality Manual was relevant to all BCAs.

In addition to overhauling this document, Co-Lab also examined related processes. As a result, the internal audits are now carried out on a monthly basis with particular items audited each time, ensuring that all required items are audited within a 12 month period as per regulatory requirements. Prior to this, a ‘mock’ IANZ audit was carried out annually at each BCA. This was time-consuming and labour intensive for the councils, and lacked value as there was no follow-through nor any mechanism to enable continuous improvement.

The breakthrough on the progression of this work came when QAHub was established, which is a group of Quality representatives from each BCA. Having the QAHub in place means the BCA Managers can review and approve items at a higher level without getting lost in detail. Proposals and improvements are discussed among the QAHub, greatly increasing efficiency.

The QAHub has reviewed the Quality Manual in detail which was presented to the Technical Committee for approval and has been submitted to IANZ.


Continuous Improvement:
Co-Lab monthly audits add value and allow the BCA’s to make meaningful and sustainable improvements. By taking a small chunk of the regulations to look at each month, councils are able to dive deep and properly inspect current practice, and have the space to explore potential improvements. This includes discussing findings with the QAHub and collectively finding a solution.

Improved Skills:
Already people have improved items such as their skills matrices, logs and registers, and shared and improved forms, which together results in increased efficiencies and reduced risk. It also develops a culture of quality that goes beyond seeing ‘Quality’ as a once a year audit by a third party (IANZ).

Expected Decreased Costs Associated with Auditing:
The audits now make it easier for IANZ to locate information and verify it against internal process documents (deskfiles). IANZ also commented that if the audits continue to be carried out this way they predict they would spend less time during their audits as the work will be done all year round.

“Co-Lab’s implementation of the QA hub and aligned auditing schedule has helped tremendously. Through the support and collaboration of the other cluster councils, working together and sharing resources and knowledge has helped to improve the quality system at our council,”

Zara Sullivan, BCA Quality Management Officer, Hauraki District Council.


Structural Asset Management Services

Waikato DC - Tainui Bridge-crop


The procurement strategy had two key features: additional supplier capacity in the market and allocating councils to contract packages as part of the evaluation process, which resulted in a $550k cost saving.


As part of funding from Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, councils are required to inspect their bridges, culverts, retaining walls, underpasses, and other structural assets on a regular basis. Structural Asset Management Services (SAMS) was the retender of two existing bridge inspection contracts and was renamed structural asset management services, to reflect that the type of assets were more than bridges and that the services were more than inspections.


Firstly, additional supplier capacity was sought because the market had effectively become a duopoly with councils experiencing a loss of genuine competition. Secondly, councils were not pre-packaged into contracts before going to market (the 2017 approach) and were instead allocated to contract packages as part of the evaluation process, to maintain competitive tension.

If the three new councils were included in the two existing contracts, then it was almost certain that there would be no change to the existing arrangement.

To improve the attractiveness of the opportunity and to encourage competition a clear message was sent to the market; that Co-Lab was looking to award two or more contracts, and that suppliers did not need to provide a response for every council (to encourage smaller suppliers to tender within their capability and resource capacity).


The outcome of the SAMS process was the inclusion of a third Waikato-based professional services firm with the benefit being stronger competition when the contracts are retendered in the future. The inclusion of a new supplier will also benefit future buyers such as Waka Kotahi and other councils.

The allocation of councils to contract packages was based on the ranking of the suppliers against the evaluation criteria, the level of confidence that the supplier had the capacity and could deliver the services, and the assessed whole-of-contract price (by council, by contract package, and overall).


  • $550K (7%) Over the life of the contract, 2022 actual outcome compared to replicating the 2017 approach
  • Increased competition for future procurements

“The evaluation was a brilliant way to allocate multiple contracts to multiple councils. Assigning suppliers during the evaluation phase ensured that councils would have suppliers best suited to their needs and that councils were right-sized based on supplier’s capacity.

The entire process was well delivered with excellent communication from Co-Lab as we worked through an exciting new procurement approach,”

Bryson Huxley, Senior Engineering Officer – Transport Strategy, Taupo District Council


Co-Lab Procurement Support



A number of Co-Lab’s smaller partner councils identified that they needed a professional to offer procurement and tendering advice, to mentor and train council staff, to check compliance and conduct reviews, and to monitor procurement performance generally.


In analysing councils’ needs, it was clear that they were not large enough to justify a full-time procurement resource so responsibility for procurement was included in a related role (such as legal or finance) with the result that procurement was not getting the required traction or profile within council. It was also a concern that it may be difficult to attract suitable candidates to jobs in the councils’ locations.


Hearing that these challenges were faced by multiple councils, Co-Lab recognised there was sufficient scope to recruit a shared resource. This was how Co-Lab Procurement Support was created. Co-Lab recruited a Procurement Advisor and they spend one day a week working for each of Ōtorohanga, Thames-Coromandel, and Waitomo councils, and the other two days on administering Co-Lab’s joint contracts.


Demystifying procurement training (attended by 70 council people) and contract template training has led to consistent approaches and solutions for similar challenges faced by councils. The service has also addressed specific needs, such as implementing a contract register for councils without a contract management system and providing procurement quick guides for staff.


Cross-council training has fostered networking, professional relationships, and knowledge sharing among council staff.


The shared procurement service has been utilised for running tenders when council resources are limited and overall, it has raised the profile of the procurement function within the council.

“Having a shared resource means that our council receives cost effective support that we otherwise would not have, and benefits from identifying synergies and opportunities across a number of smaller councils,”

Paku Edwards, Risk & Assurance Manager, Thames Coromandel District Council.