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BC Construction Association developing guidelines for construction management

Peter Caulfield
BC Construction Association developing guidelines for construction management

The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) is in the process of developing a set of guidelines for the construction management (CM) method of project delivery.

BCCA president Chris Atchison and VP of industry standard practices Warren Perks say the guidelines will outline the best ways to evaluate the abilities and fees of prospective construction managers. 

They say the guidelines will be of special interest to the owners of public projects.   

“The guidelines will be about the nuts and bolts of the construction management process and will help make it clearer,” said Atchison. “It will help owners get more value for their dollar.”

Used properly, the CM model is not only a good way to build a team, it is also open and transparent to the other stakeholders.

“Construction management takes a collaborative approach to the design and construction process, right from the outset of a project,” said Perks. “The concept combines the owner’s team, the design consultant team and the construction manager’s team in a single project team whose common objective is to deliver the project in a way that meets the owner’s time, budget and quality objectives.”

Atchison said CM is different from other project delivery methods.

“Construction management is contractually engaged early in the project to provide knowledge, skills and experience that can be used to full advantage during the design phase,” he said.

CM has some unique attributes.

“The experience, wisdom, creativity and engineering skills of design consultant and construction management firms are combined at the table with the client’s understanding of the project’s requirements,” said Perks. “This group has more control and unity. Together they command the classic tripod of functional requirements, design and construction. They are non-adversarial. They collaborate to make decisions.”

A group of eight people is designing BCCA’s CM guide. They include procurement experts, design professionals and owners.

The guidelines will be available by PDF download to the general public in early 2021.

Whether it’s towards CM or a similar method of project delivery, Helen Goodland, head of research and innovation at Scius Advisory Inc., said the construction industry needs a culture shift towards a greater degree of collaboration.

Goodland said conventional practice is for firms to manage risk by building contractual walls around their part of the project.

“That leads to very adversarial working relationships,” she said. “Some contractors are sticking to the traditional methods of contracting, but others have figured out how to work more collaboratively.”

Goodland said the increasing use of technology is one of the reasons why construction is in flux.

“Such technologies as BIM, cloud-based computing and the Internet of Things have automated many of construction’s mechanical tasks,” she said. “For example, BIM enables preparing a project before even going to the worksite.”

Goodland said there are opportunities for great increases in productivity in “pre-IPD (Integrated Project Delivery)” arrangements.

“Firms that know and trust each other get together to work on a project,” she said. “As the projects get bigger and the teams, of necessity, get larger, there will be a need for formal IPD contracts,” she said.

According to a recent Independent Project Delivery Alliance research report, however, some Canadian owners are hesitant to give IPD a try.

The authors of Owners’ Perceived Barriers to Adoption of IPD in Canada say the reasons for owners’ reluctance are complex but can be boiled down to six perceptions that act as barriers: Resistance to change; cultural misalignment; lack of clarity in the IPD contract model; resistance to greater involvement in project management; lack of familiarity and trust in the new process; and structural misalignment at owner organizations.

To read the whole report, go to https://www.ipda.ca/site/assets/files/3071/barriers_to_ipd_july_2020.pdf

Whichever delivery method is used, it needs to be the one that is the most appropriate for the project, said construction consultant Debbie Hicks of DSH Consulting.

Hicks said the most suitable method depends on many variables, such as the expertise of the parties involved, the complexity of the project, the owner’s expectations and the number and nature of the risks entailed in the project. 

“Projects involve hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions, depending on the size,” said Hicks. “So trust and collaboration are essential ingredients of addressing project challenges and risks.”

For anyone looking for an overview of project delivery methods, BCCA has published, in addition to its soon-to-be-released CM guidelines, a comprehensive guide.

It outlines the basic features of each type of construction delivery method, or contractual arrangement, as well as the advantages and risks of each type.

For more information, visit https://www.bccassn.com/resources/procurement/construction-files/construction-file–bcca-introduces-a-guideline-for-choosing-a-project-delivery-method

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