Partnering, is it working?

Let me tell you what I think of partnering, or collaboration as some may put it on projects.

And then you tell me if you agree with my views.

Working together in sweet harmony just isn’t working in the construction industry in my humble opinion, no matter hard all of us may try. It’s always been the lowest price that wins no matter what.


Well I believe every stakeholder, no matter who they are, has a commercial interest somewhere along the line in the outcome of any given project.

Don’t they?……….Think about it.

Forget about shared goals and fluffy stuff like that, at the moment its hard nosed business attitudes that prevail. Isn’t it?

And depending upon which end of the collaboration chain you’re on will depend upon how you view it to be working.

Wikipedia defines collaboration as: ‘working together to achieve a goal….’

Constructing excellence has a definition of partnering as: “Partnering is a management approach used by two or more organisations to achieve specific business objectives by maximising the effectiveness of each participant’s resources. It requires that the parties work together in an open and trusting relationship based on mutual objectives, an agreed method of problem resolution and an active search for continuous measurable improvements.”

So, the next project you are asked to work in collaboration with a client, design team, contractor, subcontractor, supplier are you all going to have the same goal? Well that depends on the goal doesn’t it I hear you say. Getting the building handed over on time, to the right quality and to budget are the normal acceptable goals aren’t they.

But making a decent return out of it too? Working on a cost-reimbursable, target cost, open book with a percentage addition for on-cost and profit?

Is that part of it? Yes, it should be.

So my point is, it’s a commercial world, everyone is looking after their own business interests at the end of it all. So to see true collaboration some big barriers have got to be broken down, and a truly trusting partnership formed between all parties.

Will that ever happen?

 No, not at the moment……but wait until BIM really comes into its own, then you will see the cultural change that this will demand, that in my opinion will change the way we work in this industry in a very significant way.

3 Responses to “Partnering, is it working?”

  1. 1 Rob Garvey May 25, 2011 at 11:57 am


    You’re blogging on some very topical and critical issues for QS’s in the construction industry. You present an interesting debate that I’m sure resonates with many, in that:
    we know we should change, we appreciate that collaboration is likely to provide better solutions for clients and hopefully be more profitable for those that participate; Yet we don’t change!

    This is the similar to the discussion we had at the be2camp event earlier this month where Don Ward presented on collaboration (see my blog entry

    It’s fascinating reading Kevin Smith’s blog entry in response to your blog ( and it’s apparent that we’re caught in a chicken and egg situation.

    BIM is only a tool; it will only be as good as the data we input into it and the processes we develop that enable us to work together. But before we get to that stage we’ve got to contract to each other … and we only do that on the basis of lowest price!

    Is it up to clients to drive this or should it be the supply side? I believe there are parts of the supply side that will start collaborating using BIM and may well start developing a competitive edge; then we’ll see whethwer the rest of the industry follows.

    • 2 derekmynott May 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      Thanks for the comments Rob,

      Since this post I’ve met with RIB and also CADline to see what they offer for the QS and it seems like things have moved on quite a pace since I last looked at any form of computerised boq production.

      I’ve yet to see it in action for real, (will do soon) but if it’s as good as it sounds then it will be those at the lower end of the supply chain that will start to collaborate I believe. It’s the guys at this end who are being asked/forced/squeezed to drive down costs, so it will be those guys that innovate and take advantage of the technology on offer.

      The other aspect I hear is that it’s all done that much better in the USA or Australia, quite how true that it I don’t know, but if there is anyone out there that has some information I’d be pleased to hear from you.

  1. 1 Partnering, BIM and all that stuff « The Cloud Data Technologist Trackback on May 25, 2011 at 9:03 am

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About Me

I’m now the Managing Director of Mynott Associates Limited my own specialist measurement business. I’ve been in the industry all of my life since I left school. My first job was with Bovis Construction as a management trainee where I trained to become a quantity surveyor. I’ve worked for contractors all through my career, I am FRICS, FCIOB and MCIHT qualified and act as an RICS assessor. I’m also a keen Arsenal supporter having followed them from a young boy

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