DCOM Volume III Appendix 3

From Ministry of Water DCOM Manual


Partnering is a project approach designed to allow the design and construction process to be performed within an environment of mutual trust, commitment to shared goals, and open communication among the client, architect/engineer, construction manager, general contractor (if applicable), and subcontractors. Partnering establishes a working relationship among all of the team members based on a mutually agreeable plan of cooperation and teamwork. Parties to the design and construction process, in agreeing to work under a partnering approach, work to create an atmosphere in which all parties are working in harmony towards mutual goals to avoid claims and litigation.

Partnering as a concept has attracted a great deal of attention due to the tremendous amount of litigation which has occurred in recent years in the construction industry. Adversarial relationships and resulting claims and litigation have resulted in huge legal costs in many construction projects. Partnering has shown that it does not need to be that way. Through close communication and establishing mutually agreeable goals at the beginning of the project, outstanding results can be achieved with no necessity for outside lawyers. The objective is a “win-win” attitude between all parties due to the design and construction process. There are already numerous examples of completed projects which have proven that the partnering process works.

The essential elements of a partnering agreement are as follows:
Commitment to partnering by the top management of every organization involved in the project, Trust relationship between all parties through personal relationships and open communication with mutual sharing and understanding of each party's risks and goals.
A partnering charter developed jointly by all parties to the project which identifies specific mutual goals and objectives of the partnering participants for continuous evaluation and review against the agreed upon mutual goals. Timely resolution of any disputes at the lowest level possible during the project.

Partnering Advantages
Partnering can result in a significantly higher level of quality on a project and can significantly increase the probability of timely and on-budget completion of the project and can reduce the risk of claims and litigation.

Benefits to the employer
1. Greater control of schedule and cost through close communication and regular evaluation of project progress.
2. Higher quality through focusing on mutual goals by team members who are not side-tracked into adversarial relationships.

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3. The potential for a totally claim free project which can be achieved through partnering. Lower administration costs can be achieved by the avoidance of case building and use of outside counsel.
4. Greater innovation through open communication and trust particularly in the area of value engineering and constructability reviews.
5. Higher profit potential for all participants resulting in a more efficient project delivery process.

Benefits to the contractor
1.Reduced risk of delays and cost overruns by early and active involvement in issues resolution.
2. Increased productivity through elimination of adversarial relationships and case building. Reduced exposure to claims litigation through early low level project resolution of problem issues.
3.Greater profit potential.

Benefits to the architect/engineering consultants
1. Greatly reduced exposure to liability for document deficiencies through early review.
2. Co-operative effort to resolve problems early to reduce exposure to claims and litigation resulting in reduced administrative costs and increased profit potential.

Benefits to subcontractors and suppliers
1. Improved cash flow due to elimination of, or reduction in, disputes resulting in withheld payments. Greater involvement in the decision making process as an active team member in the project.
2. Reduced exposure to, or elimination of, claims and litigation through early project dispute resolution. And finally, increased profit potential through a “win-win” attitude.
There is considerable overlap in the benefits for all parties to the project. This highlights the similar interests that all parties have in agreeing to mutual goals and objectives in the partnering charter.

Partnering requires considerable time, effort, and commitment at all stages of a project. The use of a partnering strategy is the voluntary decision to which all team members agreed at the beginning of the project. Implementation steps for partnering could proceed in the following manner:
1.All parties should express their desire to perform the project under a partnering agreement at the beginning of the project. The owner’s intention of utilizing the concept should be mentioned in the bid solicitation and specifications. Any pre-bid conference should include a presentation on partnering.
2.There should be a meeting of top management of all firms involved in the project in the early design stage. However, the executives at the CEO level should meet to discuss the partnering approach to managing the project. A commitment from the top of each organization is essential for partnering to work.
3.A partnering workshop/team building session should be held in the very early stages of the project. Each member team should designate a partnering leader who would intend to participate in the workshop. All of the participants of the partnering workshop would develop and agree to a partnering charter which is a written list of the goals and objectives for the project. The charter is a physical symbol of the project team members' commitment to partnering. It is considered to be a road map for regular evaluation of the project process.

Specific benchmarking measurement goals as well as general goals can be part of the partnering charter. The charter does not change the terms of the project participants' contracts and is not a contract in itself. The charter is a guide for co-operation. Each party to the project should sign the charter to show commitment to the partnering process. For periodic evaluation, a formal, regular evaluation of the progress of the project should occur normally as a formal monthly or bimonthly meeting. At this review meeting, there should be an open dialogue on any problem areas with the goal of maintaining all parties' commitment to the partnering process and to make sure that an adversarial relationship has not started to build.

4.The partnering charter should commit all of the team members to dispute resolution without claims or litigation. The goal is that any disagreement is resolved at the project level and that if a dispute is unable to be resolved at the project level, it should quickly move up to the next level of management for resolution. Resolutions should be sought in a “win-win” atmosphere of open communication and trust. The goal is to avoid claims and any involvement by outside lawyers that could result in litigation. Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques can be an important part of the partnering process. If any dispute is unable to be resolved at the lower level, the parties should agree to mediation or some similar low cost dispute resolution approach. The goal is to avoid the time and expense of claims and litigation. Alternate dispute resolution techniques can help maintain team spirit and friendly working relationships at the project.

Construction projects where adversarial, confrontational attitudes have resulted in misdirected energies and high cost of claims and litigation. The partnering process changes mindsets. Partnering can help all the involved in the design and construction process to redirect their energies and focus on the real issues associated with achieving optimum project goals. Partnering is not a panacea. Partnering requires a major commitment to change by all project parties to work in a team environment that results in a “win-win” relationship. Partnering can and is changing the industry one project at a time. It is an approach which can produce outstanding results for the construction industry.

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