Water Design-Build Council Blog

Who are the Champions for Design-Build and CMAR Projects – and What is Their Journey?

design-build-delivery-cmarWDBC’s 2017 research reports not only on the wider acceptance and use of collaborative project delivery methods for water and wastewater projects, but also that the driving growth in this market depends on a sustainable and concerted approach to education. It further reveals that successful design-build and construction management at-risk projects are structured to encourage improved government regulations, accessible funding, innovative solutions, and arguably the most valuable component -- industry best practices. However, attaining real success necessitates deeper commitments from all stakeholders above the status quo of traditional delivery. These committed stakeholders – defined as project “champions” – are the various organization leaders who embrace collaborative methods and make it their mission to share and promote these practices with others and persevere to improve and drive industry best practices into every project.

At the core of the collaborative process are water and wastewater industry owners who need to organize, develop, and prepare their internal champions for engagement with design-build teams. Early in the planning process, the work of the project champions begins with framing and clarifying the expectations for the project, which are then aligned to define the project’s drivers.

Part of the owner’s “champion” journey requires coaching their internal staff to grow as leaders demonstrating a knowledge and commitment to a collaborative approach to project management. In addition, these new champions must be prepared to communicate a common purpose to a diverse team of external practitioners and remain open to innovations as collaborative leaders that maintain a steady focus on the project’s drivers. Preparation also involves understanding their internal drivers for the project and a basic understanding of the external drivers that will maximize participation by industry practitioners.

Additionally, when owners engage a consultant or advisor to provide guidance and expertise with collaborative delivery projects, the selection criteria should include alignment of their champion’s commitment to fostering open communication and team integration for delivering new water and wastewater projects and major renovations. And, not only are exposure and education needed for developing an owner’s advisor for collaboration within a group of varied commercial interests, but also affecting a singular mission for this varied team to complete a great work.

Associated with the owner’s team commitments are the regulators who fund projects and approve plans and permits. Their role as “government champions” is strengthened with successful exposure to the benefits of an iterative review and collaborative project delivery approach.

The largest group of champions comes from the design-build and construction management at-risk practitioners. These are the individuals who are most often called upon to be the advisors, technical experts, teachers, and enforcers of best practices in collaborative project delivery. These champions inspire growth by sharing collaborative methods and educating new champions to meet a “One Team – One Goal” approach to project execution. Segregated descriptors like “engineer-led” and “contractor-led” impede the consensus needed for successful collaboration. The journey for champions among industry stakeholders requires a passion to share understanding of a project’s life cycle and the inherent benefits in value, time, and quality features attributed to collaborative delivery projects.

Emphasizing these fundamentals -- perseverance, education, and commitment -- is vital to the success of water infrastructure, upon which we all rely. The need to reflect upon and refresh our best practices is ongoing. In our daily, weekly, and monthly actions to market and execute water and wastewater projects economically, safely, and in a timely manner, we can rely on the resources available through WDBC and DBIA to persistently educate owners, government representatives, and even our own corporate organizations to develop collaborative delivery champions.

Successful planning and execution of design-build and CMAR water and wastewater projects are simply the destination for passionate vision and teamwork within a band of collaborative project delivery champions. Enjoy the journey.

Glenn Barin, PE, PMP, CCM, is a collaborative project delivery practitioner with HDR whose perspective on collaborative project delivery has developed with over 30 years of practice in the field. He has championed design-build and CMAR projects from coast to coast and abroad. Glenn has led projects and teams recognized nationally, which includes the Corona Del Mar water project profiled in the first edition of the Water & Wastewater Design-Build Handbook.

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