What is Partnering?
Partnering has been defined by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) as "a concept that focuses on making the goals of the owner, contractor, designer and supplier better understood and easier to manage. Partnering ... outlines mutually attainable goals, satisfies long-term needs and assigns risk among all the parties involved.
The Command Policy for the Army Corps of Engineers states, in part, "As a process, partnering has proven to be a useful method of breaking down barriers to communication and encouraging teamwork. This has been especially true in the area of construction contracting where we have seen the government/contractor relationship move from one which was sometimes adversarial to one of cooperation and the pursuit of common goals. The result has been more successful projects.
In the article "An Introduction to Partnering", the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America begins "Simply put, Partnering is just people working together - a voluntary system of handling normal, everyday jobsite construction problems in a mutually agreeable manner before they turn into major issues that create lawsuits. There is no mystery about partnering; it is simply an attitude change. All stakeholders resolve that issues be settled by peacefully employing a positive cooperative approach."
What are the Traits of Successful Partnering?
How is Partnering used by the Corps of Engineers?
To be successful, partnering must first be a voluntary effort. Second, all participants must be willing to embrace the concept. Third, successful partnering must be focused on the communication of needs, strengths and expectations of each party at appropriately specified milestones during the performance of the required activity. Therefore, a "partnering process" must be mutually developed and followed. Fourth, goals must be established so that the degree of success of the partnering effort can be measured throughout the performance period.
Partnering concepts are most commonly applied to the administration of construction contracts but have other application as well. The Corps seeks to partner with project sponsors, other Government agencies, and even between different segments of it's own organization. Partnering of construction contracts may be implemented through a formal process which involves structured workshops and training provided by a professional facilitator. Informal partnering which is not facilitated by an outside party has also been used with success. Experience has proven that, if top management is committed and the parties accept the process, partnering will be successful.