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Partnering: new approach to project relationships.

In recent years a process has been developed that is significantly changing the pattern of relationships among the participants in a construction project. It is called "Partnering," and it is making inroads in the construction industry.

What is "Partnering?"

In construction, managing the relationships between the various parties on a project is one of the most difficult challenges faced. Each team member the owner, architect, engineers, contractor and subcontractors -- has their own way of working and each has their own goals.

Partnering is a means of moving a project forward by establishing a method to have all parties involved in a project work together towards a common goal, thereby eliminating adversarial relationships and costly and time-consuming litigation. Partnering eliminates the traditional 'us versus them pattern of thinking among members of a project team.

It is a new way of thinking about responsibility and goals. The parties strive to understand the goals, objectives and needs of the other members of the project team. The focus is on cooperation and functioning as a single team.

While many involved in construction are discussing partnering's benefits and talking about its implementation, actual examples are few. We at Crow Construction, however, are using partnering successfully on two current projects. The results to date have made us firm believers in the process and its benefits for the entire project team.

Momentum Building

The momentum for partnering is building among owners and contractors in the 1990's. According to a survey conducted during the Associates General Contractors (AGC) of America's Partnering Forum in Dallas, partnering on design and construction projects will increase.

Crow Construction Company is now using the partnering process on two projects: the United States Postal Service's (USPS) $235 million Mail Handling Facility in Manhattan, and a $70 million Co-Generation Plant Project at Kennedy International Airport.

USPS Mail Handling Facility

The partnering process on this project began with a two-day Partnering Retreat. Attending were representatives from USPS, Crow, the designer, and key subcontractors and suppliers. Allen Kasden, senior vice president at Crow Construction, initiated the partnering process as a means to "take a fine-tuned machine and make it work even better. This was a major project, and we wanted to make sure we did everything possible to build a strong relationship with the project team."

During the Partnering Retreat, the project team was able to develop a mission statement: a set of common objectives and an issue resolution process for the project, which all parties could support.

The retreat succeeded in increasing the cooperative relationship. One result, the project team was able to resolve a potential schedule and budget 'bust" threatened by some complications with the look-out galleries. The issue was resolved saving approximately 60 days.

As part of the process, periodic partnering follow-up sessions are conducted. One of these was sponsored, in part, by the project subcontractors, who wanted more of their front-line supervisors and foremen involved in the process. Initially 60 critical issues were identified. Within four months, they had all been resolved.

From our experience, Crow has learned that partnering is an innovative, powerful management tool for transforming often negative, cost-defective construction relationships into positive, profit-building experiences for everyone on the building team.

JFK International Airport Co-Generation Plant

Crow and J.A. Jones Construct Company are joint venture partners to build a co-generate plant at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. The partnering process brought together two organizations with strong cultures. The first challenge faced was marrying the two.

This is another area in which partnering is important. It can bring together companies with their own way of working, so they can capitalize on the strengths of both, rather than compete. The Partnering Retreat was important as it, in effect, united the two organizations, starting at the top.

Subsequently, a Partnering Retreat was held with the owner, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, engineers, designers and major subcontractors. The retreat helped instill a spirit of cooperation among all team members to work closely together as the complex project moves forward.

Crow now seeks to include partnering in all major projects we enter into. As more and more companies and owners learn about it, we expect the reception to continue to improve. Partnering is a concept and way of doing business whose time has come.
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Title Annotation:Review & Forecast, Section III; description and evaluation of method used to promote cooperation between various parties involved in real estate development projects
Author:Sheppard, Charles W.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 27, 1993
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