Six Questions to Form a Successful Partnership

- Jeff Elwer

The success of facility design, construction and operation relies on numerous factors, none of which may be as important as selecting the right project partners.

Too many times, I’ve seen clients select a design firm or contractor that they end up disappointed with at the end of the project. This leads to strained relationships and unmet expectations.

Based on my experience, ideal partnerships are a collaborative dialogue between owners, operators and engineers. Developing the correct scope of work, identifying and implementing engineering solutions and procuring the proper equipment can be adversely impacted by a number of issues, including a lack of shared values or vision, a lack of design-intent and definition of long-term needs, or a lack of communication.

When these happen, deadlines are missed, costs exceed budgets, and more importantly, the client decides not to work with the engineering or construction firm again.

One crucial requirement of a design firm or contractor is to never assume; they should always be prepared to explain and clarify designs. Assuming a client is accurately interpreting and reading drawings is often an area of conflict that arises after the project erection or installation begins, causing delays and increasing expenses. A design firm or contractor has an obligation to clearly explain the designs prior to commencing work to assure a client’s needs and vision are met.

To avoid these potential pitfalls, there are six questions owners and operators should address when initiating capital projects and selecting a design firm or contractor. These include:

  1. What values are necessary in a partner?
  2. What is the design-intent? (What is the desired outcome and what problem is being solved?)
  3. Is there a clearly articulated scope of work?
  4. What are the performance requirements for equipment?
  5. Is there an established timeframe and budget for completion?
  6. What type of support is required post-completion?

Successful projects begin with successful partnerships. We partner with clients to create a collaborative environment, assuring projects are performed safely, completed on time and within budget. Identifying the right partners and forming collaborative partnerships is the first critical step to assure the long-term success of capital investments.