Front-End Elements of Collaboration in Construction

There are several sources and methodologies on how to collaborate in construction projects. We would like to highlight three such elements which take place at the beginning of a project and seem to be common among the different methodologies.

Early Involvement

As the project progresses through detailed conceptual engineering and detailed engineering/design more of the uncertainties are addressed and mitigated. This can be further enhanced if the project owner(s) were to establish a timeline in the main phases of the project that identifies when and where certain expertise could inform the design. For example, if a project has at its core specific pieces of equipment and processes, then it would help greatly to have the fabricator and manufacturer input even at the conceptual design phase. We often hear an emphatic desire from suppliers that if only they had been brought in on the design earlier they could have saved so much time and money. However, this must be balanced with how much the owner can spend before the final investment decision is made on the project to go ahead.

Shared Purpose

Once a project is fully setup, financed and ready to go, there is a critical time to bring together the core contracted parties and build alignment and understanding on the project. All further actions on the project can be more effective if a strong consideration and commitment is made at the beginning of a project to come together and build a ‘shared purpose.’ In some collaborative contracting models this can be facilitated with a shared risk/reward structure since often finances are the common denominator among the contracted parties. It is however also recommended that each party co-develop a sense of purpose as being part of the project more than just the monetary gain, such as the impact the project will have on the community and economy. An example of a shared purpose could be, “This project will serve the community to bring more jobs and local market for the oil and gas resources developed in our Province. Each company helping to build the project will be assigned a % of bonus when the project exceeds its target completion of Aug 1st 2020 and meets the community and economic impact”

Co-Developed Targets and Design

Given the clear shared purpose and plan for early involvement, the parties involved in a project should co-develop their set of targets, namely the project’s overall design capacity/outcomes and total estimated (fixed) cost. Once these targets are set and agreed upon by the owner, designer, constructors and suppliers where most impacted, then the collective teams can start working towards beating those goals for an established reward; a share of the profit. Imagine, however, if these targets were not co-developed, it would be difficult for any company involved to be fully committed.

Author: Caitlin Lopez

Read more posts about: Alberta Construction, Collaboration, Communication, Trust