One Project, One Team: What Collaboration Means in the Construction Industry
At Miller Valentine Construction, we use a number of construction delivery methods — but all of our work is grounded in collaborative principles. This four-part series explains what collaboration means in the construction industry and how we pursue it. We start by defining collaboration.
Every time we win a new project, we have two goals: To deliver a great product and a great experience. We do that through collaboration.
By definition, collaboration means bringing people together toward a common objective. In the construction industry, this means working with an owner and project partners to create a solution that captures a client’s design and functional intent while providing the most advantageous solutions as they relate to the schedule, quality, initial cost and overall cost of ownership — all while providing a return on investments for all.
Project partners may include architects, engineers (civil, environmental, structural, MEP’s), economic developers, site selectors, sub-contractors, trade partners and state and local communities.
It’s about more than simply inviting people to the table. At Miller Valentine Construction, we bring the right people to the table, at the right times — often preferred before construction is underway. And we value every partner’s experience and expertise. Our project and trade partners may be subcontractors, but everyone has equal footing. All voices and viewpoints are acknowledged and heard.
How do we make sure? To be truly collaborative — and not just talk the talk — we do a few things differently. Being collaborative in a construction environment means:
- Establishing and agreeing upon priorities early on, instead of placing demands on partners later in the process.
- Communicating clearly, proactively and constantly. When communication is open, team members can anticipate needs, explore options and troubleshoot issues, before they become problems.
- Sharing the risk and the rewards across the entire project team. Contracts don’t have to be punitive; when they’re collaborative, they encourage participation and ownership in the project.
- Learning from experience for continuous improvements — both ours and our specialist partners’.
- Building trust in the process and in each other. Partners need to feel safe to ask questions or speak up if there’s a potential issue.
When we do these things, owners get more successful outcomes — they stay on schedule, save time and money, produce safer working conditions and higher-quality products. And it’s a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Is collaboration the only way to build today? Yes and no.
Some owners or projects still follow more traditional delivery models, like General Contractor/ Design-Bid-Build. Others have opted for more collaborative delivery models, like Construction Management, Lean/IPD or Design-Build. No matter the approach the project benefits when the construction leader brings a collaborative spirit or approach to the work. We can still communicate openly and invite experts into planning and decision-making.
Regardless of the delivery model, collaboration can — and should be — a prominent feature of every construction project.