Tuesday 20 June 2023

Transforming Engineering Project Management through Cooperation and Trust


construction enterprises


The main participants in a project owners, designers and contractors all have their own goals, and the common goal is to complete the project successfully. 

However, traditional project management models, especially the rules of winning bids at low prices, put the parties involved in opposing situations, so disputes and conflicts often arise. Internationally, in recent years, the Partnering model has been adopted to build a platform for mutual cooperation, in order to achieve a win-win situation.

1. Traditional engineering project management mode

There are various project management modes for engineering projects, and the following engineering project management models at home and abroad have roughly appeared: "design-bid-build" (DBB) model, design-build (DB) and turnkey engineering mode, BOT mode, BOO mode, CM mode and design management mode (DM) developed on its basis. In India's construction industry, the DBB model is the most common traditional management model, and a major feature of the traditional management model is to separate different functional links in the supply chain, which is essentially composed of a series of contracts based on different functional areas. This approach treats the other party as an adversary, spends a lot of time and energy studying the terms of the other party's contract, and tries to strengthen its own negotiating power; Or focus themselves on a narrow market position, all parties to the project are looking for short-term benefits, and care about consuming the resources of others, problems are mainly solved through contractual risk transfer and legal proceedings, and there is no mechanism and method to predict problems and resolve disputes.

Second, the basic elements and types of the Partnering model

2.1 Basic elements of the Partnering model

The basic idea of the Partnering model is to change the hostile relationship between the participants in the construction project into a partnership; From simply pursuing the goals of either party to pursuing the goals of all parties. It differs from other project management methods in that Partnering does not observe and solve problems from a hostile perspective, but emphasizes understanding, cooperation, and trust.
The Partnering model is one of the more important 3 factors: communication, understanding, and mutual trust. He also points out that these 3 factors influence each other, and the absence of any of them will make the Partnering model not work well.

In addition to the factors of communication, understanding and mutual trust, there are 2 prerequisites for the successful operation of the Partnering model – commitment and sharing.

Partnering's "commitment" must be made by the top management of all parties involved in order to ensure the smooth implementation of the work, in the form of a Partnering agreement. The Partnering agreement is non-contractual in nature, it is a method of how to execute and manage the contract, and it is also a countermeasure to how the relationship between the parties is handled during the contract, which determines the attitude of the participants towards the project and the partners; The so-called "sharing" is first of all resource sharing, and only by sharing information resources can all parties involved in the maximum benefit of resources be brought into play. 


Therefore, all parties should communicate with each other in a fair, honest and timely manner, so as to ensure that the information on project investment, progress and quality can be obtained by other parties on time. In addition to resource sharing, all participants must share risks, resolve conflicts together, share results, and ultimately meet their own goals and interests.

2.2 Two types of Partnering mode

The Partnering model can be divided into single and continuous, also known as "project-specific partnering mode" and "long-term partnering mode".

2.2.1 Partnering of individual items.

As the name suggests, it refers to the adoption of the Partnering model in a single specific construction project, so that all parties form a Partnering working relationship. The project-specific Partnering model should determine the scope of the project from the tactical level, which emphasizes the establishment of cooperation, mutual trust and win-win relationship between owners, contractors, consulting and supervision parties, etc., not only to meet the basic project "iron triangle" constraints, but also to increase the satisfaction of owners through technology or means such as value engineering and excellent follow-up services. The project-based Partnering model is suitable for general large-scale projects, but because such projects lack a certain duration period and pay more attention to costs, the alliance of parties formed by the model has a certain time limit.

2.2.2 Long-term partnering model

Determining the scope of the project from the strategic level of the company, it can influence the long-term goals of the company. Model implementation should consider both the life cycle of a particular project and the development of the participating enterprises themselves. 

The purpose of establishing a long-term cooperative relationship from the life cycle of the participating enterprises is to benefit all members, in addition to increasing the satisfaction of the owners, but also to enable other participants to learn from each other and improve the overall competitiveness of the enterprise in the industry. Long-term partnering is closely related to the strategic development of the enterprise, and is more suitable for large-scale and ultra-large engineering projects or situations with continuous project needs. 

Relatively speaking, owners of large-scale or super-large projects attach more importance to the social benefits of the project than the economic benefits, and the participating enterprises can obtain more economic benefits in addition to obtaining more economic benefits through long-term alliances to continuously improve efficiency, but also gain more reputation.

In addition, the long construction and operation maintenance cycle also provides the necessary time for the participating companies to form long-term cooperative relations.

Third, the advantages and disadvantages of the Partnering model

Practice has proved that the Partnering model is a cooperative method that is beneficial to all parties involved in the project. In this model, the problems encountered in the project can be solved as soon as possible with the participation of multiple parties, the blame is reduced, the number of disputes and conflicts is greatly reduced, and the decision-makers pay more attention to work efficiency because they are closer to the project itself, and the most direct benefits of this are that the construction time is shortened, the cost is reduced, and the quality is improved.

3.1 The partnering model must be built on a certain level of mutual trust.

In addition to the trust between team members, members are required to maintain a certain degree of confidence in the entire cooperation process, especially in the establishment of cooperation and the development of common goals. The participants have always been accustomed to opposing situations, and some successful experiences are also based on opposition, and it is difficult to establish mutual trust in a short period of time.

3.2 Whether it can cooperate and communicate smoothly and effectively is another factor for Partnering's success. 

Different teams work together, and it is necessary to break some old working habits and establish a new corporate culture that adapts to the Partnering model. This requires more communication between team members to form mutually adaptive ways of working.

3.3 Partnering is a model with high investment in the early stage. 

Although participants will gradually taste the sweetness of this model after stable operation, the high-density initial investment will indeed discourage some people.

3.4 It is easy to lose due market sensitivity. 

Due to long-term cooperation with several fixed partners, most of the focus of the company's work is on cooperation, gradually away from the market, out of touch with the market, thus losing the ability to adapt to the market.

3.5 There is a high risk of over-dependence on the other party. 

Since the partnering model emphasizes the strength of partners, and the parties involved are treated as a whole, it is possible to make one party overly dependent on the other, resulting in inseparative rights and responsibilities, and low work efficiency

Fourth, the scope of application of the Partnering model

The above characteristics of Partnering make it particularly suitable for the following types of projects:

4.1 The owner has a continuous series of engineering construction projects

Such as large-scale real estate development projects, fast food chains, commercial chains and other construction projects, representing the government in municipal investment and construction projects. Successive projects provide a favorable environment and foundation for long-term cooperation between owners and contractors, not only to implement the partnering model on a single project, but also to possibly implement the strategic partnering model.

4.2 Projects with more uncertainties

For example, the composition of the project is complex, the technology is complex, the participating units are complex, etc., especially the project with complex technology and many uncertainties in construction, it is inevitable that various disputes will occur, and the use of the Partnering management model can effectively reduce the occurrence of disputes, avoid litigation, and better solve the problem of claims.

4.3 Projects for which tendering is not suitable

Such as military engineering projects, and the Partnering model is also derived from military engineering, and the Partner-ing management model can effectively control the project objectives.
Partnering model is a new type of engineering project management mode in the world, compared with the traditional model, it mainly emphasizes teamwork and mutual trust. With its advantages in dispute resolution, shortening construction period and reducing costs, this model is widely used in developed countries and regions. However, there are also some shortcomings in the practical application of this model, which need to be solved.


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