Collaboration and Teamwork: What’s in it For You?

Friday, June 26th, 2015
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Let me tell you what you already know – that collaboration and teamwork on building and construction projects are key drivers of good outcomes.

In fact, without them, we can look forward to disagreements, arguments, disputes, and lost time and money for everyone.

And yet, too often clients and others who initiate projects look to cost as the key criterion for selection of project team members, and pay too little attention to how different organisations and people will work best together.

We all in business to create wealth of some sort. Whether profit, an investment return, new services from a road or a hospital or something else entirely, all of them amount to additions to our own or the community’s wealth. Most of the projects the industry completes add to wealth, but too many leave opportunities for wealth creation behind. The best of them, excellent projects, add considerably more to wealth.

There’s a shorthand definition of what makes an excellent project. It was developed as part of research for the Property Council of Australia’s guide to excellent project outcomes, published as Projects as Wealth Creators.

Here are five things that all excellent projects have in common:

First, the end user’s expectations are met or exceeded. Whether the asset is a school, a hospital, a shopping centre or some other building, clearly if the intended functionality can’t be achieved, the project is not a success.

Second, the client’s strategic and financial objectives must be met. This is a fundamental objective that all project team members need to focus on.

Just as importantly as the client’s objectives, the project team members must achieve their financial objectives. There is no benefit to anyone, whether the client or another member of the project team, if even one team member loses money on the project. All team members need to achieve their financial objectives so they are around to work on the next project.

The fourth indicator of a very successful project is that the project delivery team enjoyed working together and want to work together again. How often have we seen projects that end with decent financial returns to the developer, and with on-time completion, but that have caused poisonous relationships between team members? Time, cost and functionality are critical, but are not enough on their own.

Lastly, but just as important as the other four drivers, is the achievement of community and stakeholder expectations of the project being met or exceeded in relation to safety, design, environmental outcomes, and social objectives.

Collaboration amongst project team members is needed to deliver such outcomes. Collaboration in turn can’t happen unless there is alignment of goals across the project team, including key project sponsors. That alignment in turn is a product of the degree to which the team members are indeed a team – that is to say, the extent to which they are integrated.

The starting point of this approach is the belief that the more effectively a team is integrated, the better it can perform. There is a continuum of levels of integration commonly seen within the industry, with varying levels of matching collaboration and cooperation amongst members of the project team.

The higher the level of integration of team members at the early design stages, the greater the opportunities to gain maximum benefit from the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM). Increasingly, the industry is adopting delivery strategies that use greater collaboration amongst project team members, and it is using BIM to drive out waste and wasted effort in order to deliver outstanding project outcomes.

Together BIM and Project Team Integration together are powerful drivers of productivity and profitability. Everyone in the process of developing or re-developing an asset stands to gain from the tool (BIM) and the process (integration driving collaboration).

To get the best from BIM, everyone needs to be involved in developing the processes used to develop and use the model. Involving the constructors (head and trade contractors) early – before the model is finalised – offers greatest opportunities to achieve an excellent result.

Appointing the constructors before design is settled poses challenges for clients. But they are being met by smart clients, through Alliance and Alliance-like delivery strategies including ECI.

ACIF and APCC believe integration is not just a word to describe a process; to deliver an excellent project it needs to be at the heart of “the way we do things here” on the project. There are simple things that can be done by the client and the project team to plan for excellent project outcomes and drive the best results from use of BIM, by thinking about the way in which their project teams are integrated and managed.

Have a look at the ACIF/APCC Project Team Integration Workbook for guidance. It’s available free online at

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