Getting Started on your Collaboration Strategy

Organizations considering collaboration are starting to get more support and resources to make their transformation into executing on collaborative construction projects. On May 7th, organizations came together for a seminar and continued the conversation to further build understanding and support for what it takes to be more collaborative and execute collaborative contracting models.

From the event, we have summarized the learnings below and provided a Collaboration Strategy Template developed by the workshop attendees to help your organization get started on the path to Collaborative Construction Projects. For more details from the event, visit our event page.

Collaboration Strategy

If you are ready to start a collaboration strategy of your own, consider the co-developed key elements in the file below developed the the workshop attendees.

Practical Realities of Collaboration in Construction – Collaboration Strategy TEMPLATE.docx

The following is a summary of the learnings from the May 7th Seminar on the Practical Realities of Collaboration in Construction:

Principles of Collaboration

(Presented and Proposed by Richard Venerus of Venerus Advisory Partners)

  • Acknowledge the Need to Partner
  • Shared Vision and Joint Purpose
  • Commitment to the Purpose
  • Establish, Develop and Maintain Trust
  • Use a System for Collaboration
  • Monitor and Measure Collaboration

Contract Models

Frequently Asked Questions

(Fielded by Craig Webber from IPDA and the Industry panelists)

  • How to prove to a senior executive team the value of going away from 3 bids and a buy?
    • Bidding to lowest price doesn’t help the project. Need to pull industry benchmarking to compare and co-develop a market-competitive cost for the project
    • Look at successes per contract model.
    • It’s possible that if you go out to bid you loose all the value potentially created with early involvement
    • Opportunity to demonstrate; prove the value and share results.
    • Team selection should also be based on value not just cost.
    • Budget is co-developed and it is a complete shift in execution approach
    • Even without a design, select team based on competency, get to validation phase asking if we can build it, then press go.
    • Need to anchor on some sort of defined project value. Benchmarking does hep, this for example you could say ‘this type of project costs this amount and typically has this impact’ which is needed in order to make investment decisions. Then focus on how do we beat this benchmark.
  • What maturity level is needed to take this on?
    • Better go forward with teams and organizations that are committed to learning, stay clear of the ones that think they know it all. Doing this in the right way can result in really good results
  • How to make the change?
    • Establish the urgency: The data shows that we need to improve project performance, we are very far behind and need to make a shift to start attracting investment. Furthermore, collaboration has been proven elsewhere.
    • Get it started with demonstration / pilot projects.
    • Provide competitive and collaborative as two options. This can un-anchor the existing processes and neutralize the older ways so it doesn’t’ appear as such a big jump.
  • What is the secret to a good team?
    • Important to have ‘learn-it-alls’ instead of ‘know-it-alls’
  • What if one team or person is not working?
    • Can be voted off the island, if not performing consistently
    • The under-performing team has to present to all the other contracted parties and they will conduct a secret ballot vote. In the example the team was voted to stay and after that they were motivated and did a lot better and everyone else worked harder as well because they didn’t want to be in that position in the future
  • How to bring everyone on-board and make sure they understand the commitment and the goals?
    • On-boarding: translate down from senior management team. Find a strong leader from each trade and bring them in to the big rooms.
    • Reward best lean ideas or other incentives
    • Allow questions ‘couldn’t we do this?’
  • Are all the trades involved? If not how do you deal with contractors outside of the arrangement?
    • In big projects some trades are not included; to figure out which, look at the bones that have biggest impact on schedule and price.
    • When they are not contracted in you still have them on-boarded so they have opportunity to voice ideas and be celebrated for successes.
    • Often they had fewer problems with contractors outside the contract.
    • Working as a team and reporting together will naturally encourage accountability, shows if you’re meeting your promises.
    • Drive with purpose, make a vision statement, review the performance of all players and review what did we set out to do. Make it concrete and tangible For example, on Fort hills they had a clear high level goal of first oil by… but it took the senior leaders 2 weeks to define what success actually looks like so they could measure it.
    • Biggest win would be to keep it simple, celebrate successes

Early Involvement

  • We could include the community as stakeholder; some industries do this better like the forestry industry.
  • Bring people together earlier. Build relationships and invest time up-front for this
  • Exploring who should be involved and when, would be nice if everyone was involved at the beginning. But would they all really need to be involved at the beginning? Allow for all to be involved they would likely self-select if it’s not of value for them; as opposed to dictating when someone is useful.
  • Idea; select team players from bottom up. For example the trades select the designers.

Legal Team Support

  • Think of lawyers as suppliers or stakeholders; it is difficult for them to shift from company-protection to project-orientation. Having them involved all along the way will help
  • Involve lawyers in the risk management assessment
  • Have a project neutral but also a contract neutral with the main role to cause the agreement to come into fruition; more of a facilitator role.

Understanding Shift and Environment

  • Perhaps we’re used to: Cost goes up then profit goes up in some traditional approaches, but with IPD profit remains the same so if the same deliverable / project can be done with less work (more efficiently) will mean more profit
  • Make sure it’s a safe place to provide ideas and constructive criticism.
  • Open door policy, set consistent expectations across all suppliers
  • Need consistent strategy
  • Importance of emotional intelligence, starting to see behaviour change from all parties
  • Know what you know and don’t know, know your role and have a succession plan

Day to Day Processes

  • Respond to needs of the project such as if answers need to be faster then make sure to co-locate the teams
  • Have a wish list of items as ideas are captured throughout the project design and execution. Then at the end of the project the extra profit made by the owner can be arranged to pay for the wish list items
  • For new ideas; always be open to listening even if it seems too late but then include a ‘last responsible moment’ after which we can’t do the change.

(Author: Caitlin Lopez May 22nd 2019)

Read more posts about: Alberta Construction, Collaboration