June 2017

Micro-tendering in the mining industry

  • By Nick Nifakos, CEO, Mineler

A new way for mining professionals and companies to approach the jobs and services market

By breaking down large mining projects into small, task-based parcels of work, skilled mining workers can competitively bid to undertake each task. This process is called ‘micro-tendering’ and I believe it is an important part of the future workforce.

The technology stems from eCommerce trading and online dating platforms. In simple terms, micro-tendering uses Software as a Service (SaaS) technology that has been heavily reconfigured with intimate knowledge of the mining industry and applied on a secure, cloud-based platform. The technology matches work seekers from anywhere in the world with work providers, and allows them to bid and offer items of interest.

With increased digitisation of work practices, combined with cloud, mobile, social and web technologies, the potential for collaboration is limitless. Hence companies can now access vast pools of talent to build an expanded workforce for task-oriented or experience-based projects. External outsourcing continues to prove valuable as companies look to improve their business performance (efficiency and productivity) and overall operating structure (lean and profitable). Micro-tendering provides companies with competitive agility via access to specialised resources according to market and geographical needs, dynamic scalability in managing unforeseen workloads, and access to research and development to deliver innovation on demand.

As a result, the nature of micro-tendering is becoming more strategic and higher in value, providing more attractive, reliable and fulfilling work to individuals with the flexibility that can only be found in a borderless work environment. Nearly half (47 per cent) of companies in a global survey by Towers Watson, an international HR company, said they already had staff working remotely or in some kind of flexible arrangement. For an industry like mining which is geographically diverse, typically remote and has multitudinous disciplines and services, it could be a favourable change in the wind.

Why is this relevant? The global mining industry is experiencing a significant structural shift. Mining companies (mine owners) and mining equipment technology and services companies (METS) are continually forced to challenge existing ways of thinking in today’s capital-constrained environment. They are open and ready to adopt innovative technologies, particularly those that have been proven to cut project costs, leverage available resources and provide access to global opportunities via an on-demand workforce.

So how does micro-tendering work? A basic example could be a mining company posts a technical request for a geologist to interpret details surrounding a particular tenement. Key details are entered into the ‘Marketplace Opportunities’ area of the micro-tendering platform, instantly notifying geologists about this new opportunity based on their profile. Geologists review the request and submit their non-disclosed bids in an attempt to win this work. The mining company selects the most suitable bid. Once accepted, this formalises the contract and the two can commence working on their project, exchanging all contract information via a private and secure channel. By completing this transaction, the following benefits are achieved for the following users:

Mining company

  • has access to a deeper pool of talent
  • was able to reduce the cost of the contract based on the competitive offers received
  • at all times retained full control of the contract fulfilment
  • was able to pay based on the agreed deliverables
  • was able to integrate contractors into their project
  • finding the right person, for the right price, the first time

Geologist

  • access to a diverse global market
  • ease of ability to look and bid for work
  • won the work based on the best offer
  • had certainty of being paid based on agreed deliverables
  • flexibility of work hours and location
  • matched their skills and knowledge to complimenting work.

More examples could include an engineer seeking to design a drive, a drilling company bidding for a tender, an executive seeking a contract metallurgist, a recruiter building a team, a student looking for work experience or a supplier looking for an alliance. A work opportunity can range from a simple task of ‘I need samples of these data points’ to a ‘I require a Pre-Feasibility Study to be done’.

The key benefits from an industry perspective is the modernisation of the mining ethos (digitalisation and cultural change), increasing the competitive landscape (borderless and cost efficient), achieving global workforce access with a global marketplace of opportunity, whilst fostering collaboration and entrepreneurship.

Indirectly, it also offers an opportunity to advertise and create global branding for those with desires to expand. It can help to identify niche audiences, or strategic or aligned interests between companies and individuals to assemble flexible workforces. It encourages a specific community to come together and discover a marketplace of opportunity by combining elements of social networking and eCommerce, enabling people and companies to operate in a collaborative and secure online environment.

Micro-tendering will be important tool for the future workforce as it widens the playing field and introduces more competition, albeit a defined one. Consider the opportunity it might provide for a single parent, who prefers to work from home to have a balanced work-home life. Through the platform they are still able to stay connected to the industry and exercise their skills and knowledge in their preferred field or discipline. They register online, can identify all the opportunities that suit them, and bid appropriately. The work they complete could be uploaded through the cloud-based platform.

Using the same platform, professionals and job candidates can easily create and promote their services through a verified bio and CV, and stay abreast of the latest industry news and connect with colleagues and associates.

A synopsis of discipline uses

Contractors and service providers can promote their offering and services to market, access to tenders and contract bidding opportunities, collaborate with other partners and suppliers, and assemble teams of professionals on demand.

For miners and operators, it speeds up the tender process for large and small projects, provides a more flexible competitive workforce, automates manual processors, provides a central platform with access to all information and reduces the number of service level agreements with providers and suppliers.

Recruitment companies can monetise their databases, create secure private networks within the system and move from manual reference validation to automated external peer reviews.

The global mining industry has certain characteristics that will make micro-tendering easy to adopt. The ease of use and practicality for both sides (seekers and providers of work) will have global appeal to all those with a mining vocation.

For more information, please contact Nick Nifakos on 0407 863427 or nick@mineler.com.

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