Interview: Dale Evans, managing director of the @One Alliance explains collaboration

Dale Evans, managing director, @One Alliance

As Anglian Water kicks off its 15 year asset renewal and maintenance programme worth some £6bn over the next three AMP periods, Evans explains the value of deep collaboration across the supply chain.

Dale Evans is managing director of the @one Alliance, the collaborative organisation formed between client Anglian Water and key partners in its supply chain to deliver the multi-billion pound AMP investment programmes to upgrade and enhance the network. 

The @one Alliance was formed in 2004 to deliver the AMP4 programme and now comprises Anglian Water Engineering (AWEng), Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited (BBUSL), Barhale, Black & Veatch, Grontmij, MWH and Skanska Jacobs to deliver the AMP5 programme and beyond.

This week Anglian Water brought together its whole supply chain for its Carbon and Energy Leaders Conference at which Evans helped emphasise the vital need for greater collaboration to help reduce carbon and so reduce the cost of asset management. 

He explains the opportunities facing the Alliance going forward and the challenges of continuing the process of continuous delivery improvement.

Interview by Freya Bottom

What is the @One Alliance?

It is a group of seven organisations brought together by Anglian Water to collectively deliver the investment programme [planned across the Anglia Water network]. It’s very collaborative and promotes work as one integrated organisation. 

Why is collaboration so important? 

If we look at the way we want to work and the changes we want to deliver, I believe these can only be achieved in a collaborative environment. Traditional procurement processes that construction tends to employ create boundaries and interfaces which limit development. Collaboration encourages a much more open environment. It does not mean soft and cuddly – it’s commercially challenging and tough! 

How easy was the @One Alliance to set up?

The easy option would be to continue with traditional models. Collaboration requires people to suddenly behave and work differently; there is a definite cultural shift. The first few years were hard work as there was an awful lot of change. Even 10 years on there is still lots of change and still a lot to achieve. 

How did you go about deciding what you wanted to achieve for the @One Alliance? 

First some aspirational goals were collectively agreed upon. For example: health and safety – we wanted an industry leading level of safety; a no accident environment. These goals were then extended to other components such as efficiency and environmental impact. We wanted a positive environment which refreshed a want for change. 

You mentioned cultural change; how much was this the case instead of contractual?

Peoples’ perception of design was key. An example would be ‘standard products’ where instead of redesigning components they were simply chosen from a catalogue. A cultural shift in design rather than technical issues or engineering challenge occurred. The way in which you add value and delivered also shifted. 

You spoke about celebrating ways to avoid building assets - how do you get people who build for a living to not build?

By acknowledging that customer satisfaction is the thing we are delivering. Again it’s a perception change to what success looks like! 

Returning to the Alliance, how do you make it important for the lower tiers of the supply chain to engage and collaborate? 

Key to the programme is bringing teams of people together who are collaborating right from the outset. All teams are aligned and engaged across the whole supply chain hence it is requisite for the lower tiers to be involved. Traditional procurement can be thrown away.  Again a cultural shift - how we engage and being really open to bringing big teams together is important.  

To what extent have perhaps succeeded by simply tackling the low hanging fruit over the last 10 years? 

I don’t think what we have achieved so far is just the low hanging fruit and that it now it gets harder. Rather as we progress the opportunities reveal themselves. If we look at the traditional construction industry and how much waste there is, there are tonnes of [opportunities] to go through and what we really need is a continuous improvement philosophy. That’s what the Alliance needs to be!

 For details of the @One Alliance and its work visit


I would stress that, while the change might feel ‘sudden’, in fact, it’s not. It takes a lot of planning and support to make a cultural and behavioural shift that is sustainable and that’s where the additional, external, support can play such a key part in helping to make that transition.