What is Construction Partnering?

Construction Partnering is a proactive management approach that aligns design and construction project teams throughout the life of a project. This is accomplished by establishing a mindset, commitment and process for all team members centered around a mutual objective—successful project delivery. The project team’s success is measured by shared goals commonly related to the project’s scope, schedule, budget, quality and safety.

Using Partnering methodology, disjointed teams build trust, unite, and establish a culture of continuous improvement. This not only leads to extraordinary success for the current project team, but also provides best practices and long-term process improvements for future projects. Additionally, effective Partnering cements lasting relationships that garner repeat business for the project team.

Partnering Throughout the Project’s Life Cycle

Construction Partnering should be implemented through all phases of a project’s life cycle, anytime more than one organization is involved. Ideally, it begins upon project conception for aligning the owner’s team, and critical project partnerships are forming. Nevertheless, it can be implemented during any project stage and results can be achieved with velocity.

Partnering Life Cycle

Project Lifecycle

Benefits of Construction Partnering

In addition to maximizing the effectiveness of each participant’s resources, Partnering provides strategies for effective communication, common goal setting, productivity and issue resolution. As a result, high-performance teams are built and realize the following benefits for the projects they build.

Construction Partnering done the VELO Group way…

  • Enhances communication
  • Aids cost effectiveness. $1 invested in Partnering = $114 saved (International Partnering Institute, 2021)
  • Contributes to schedule adherence
  • Improves Accountability
  • Addresses and removes internal barriers
  • Increases quality products and services
  • Heightens efficiency
  • Builds cooperative internal and external relationships
  • Resolves issues and prevents disputes
  • Gathers lessons-learned
  • Increases opportunities for project and team recognition
  • Enhances community relations
  • Increases contribution to the community
  • Job satisfaction and peace of mind
  • Builds lasting relationships
  • Leads to future work

Who Uses Construction Partnering?

Whether your project is a $1 million roadway extension, a $50 million office building or a $500 million hospital campus, Partnering is scalable and benefits any project type using any delivery method. It does not replace the terms and conditions of the contract but works in tandem with it by helping ensure the expectations of all parties are met.

Public and private project owners and design and construction teams alike have adopted Construction Partnering as a tool to improve project outcomes. Government, commercial, industrial and institutional projects all reap benefits from this collaborative approach.

Complex government projects involving taxpayer funding, strict schedule adherence, tight budgets, various team and third-party stakeholders, as well as community oversight and scrutiny rely on Construction Partnering principals to achieve project success. Some government organizations that have established Partnering as a best practice include:

  • Federal Highway Administration
  • 24 of the 50 state transportation programs. Caltrans, Maryland SHA, ODOT, ADOT and others require a Partnering process by specification.
  • Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC)
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs / Veterans Health Administration

VELO Group Master-Level Partnering Facilitator Neal Flesner has facilitated Construction Partnering for government agencies, other project owners and top construction firms worldwide.
See some of our project snapshots here.

History of Construction Partnering

The roots of Construction Partnering date back to 1983 when the Construction Industry Institute (CII) sought to improve the competitive position of U.S. business in the global market. Part of this included mitigating rampant litigation and improving cost effectiveness in the construction industry. The CII’s 28 charter members were responding to the recommendations from a study by The Business Roundtable called the Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness (CICE) Project.

Members of CII represent a cross section of owners, contractors and academia, including the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). In the late 1980s the Corps piloted the Partnering process on two of its construction projects with great success.

“Many of the problems that limit cost effectiveness are common ones and that a cooperative environment was necessary to accomplish real improvements,”
CII Partnering Process Task Force, 1983

Operating on the premise that “many of the problems that limit cost effectiveness are common ones and that a cooperative environment was necessary to accomplish real improvements,” the CII established a task force at The University of Texas at Austin to research the Partnering process. The group examined the risks and benefits of partnering, provided guidelines on the process and defined the relationship between partnering and the construction contract. In 1991, the results of their studies were published in a document titled, In Search of Partnering Excellence.

United States Army Corps of Engineers Acts on CII Research

Additionally, the Corps developed a pamphlet in 1991 which described the Partnering Process, the reasons for using it, and the benefits it produced on some of its recent projects. They also established a formal Partnering Program at this time and have continued implementing Partnering to date with much success.

Associated General Contractors of America Supports Construction Partnering

Realizing its value, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) endorsed Partnering in January 1991. Building construction quality through Partnering became one of the objectives of the AGC that year. Inspired by AGC’s Past President Marvin M. Black, the AGC developed the annual Marvin M. Black Excellence in Partnering Award. This honor goes to AGC contractor(s) involved in the year’s most collaborative projects who stand out for their ability in the following areas:

  • Signing a formal partnering charter
  • Achieving a common goal
  • Honoring all stakeholders
  • Resolving conflict
  • Improving communication on the project with all audiences
  • Incorporating team-building activities

As a follow-up to its original CII Partnering Task Force, CII formed the Partnering II Research Team in 1993. This group measured the broad effects and benchmarks of Partnering, resulting in a book that describes a partnering implementation process model, including five implementation phases for partnering. The book also outlines benchmarks that verify the benefits achievable through partnering in the areas of cost, schedule, safety, and quality.

VELO Group facilitators have studied and implemented much of this historical research in best practices for Construction Partnering as the foundation we use with our project teams every day.