It’s not every day I get to speak with a project owner and gain valuable insight from the top of the chain. However, this past week, I was able to do just that during the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Southern California Chapter’s Awards Banquet. Some of the top project teams in Southern California were recognized with Project Achievement Awards. In attendance were many distinguished guests, some of whom were project owners.
I recognized one particular owner, having seen him at a project planning meeting two years prior. During this meeting, he outlined plans to move away from low bid to design-build and BIM on upcoming projects. This was exciting news for everyone in the room, as the organization had many projects to go around, however, they admittedly were not yet taking full advantage of integrated project delivery methods. And I have to be honest: given the vast scale of all the projects this organization owns, I too was skeptical this goal would be realized anytime soon. After all, transforming workflows is a huge undertaking for any project.
Fast forward two years later and I am now eating my words. As it turns out, one of the largest projects identified in that meeting has implemented multiple technologies to migrate their project workflows from paper-intensive to BIM-driven electronic project documentation as their project deliverables. How was this transformation possible in such a short amount of time? Well, as it turns out, persistence at the highest levels, with vision for the desired outcome, drove the change on an impressive timetable.
The organization made the wise choice to partner with experienced firms who knew how to navigate the tricky migration from paper to BIM-rich data. Then, they shaved off valuable time by selecting contract partners who were already up to speed on the latest technology, having previously invested time and money into migrating their own workflows. Together, these two teams were able to digitize project data, reinvent workflows, and achieve most of the owner’s goals, all without breaking the system. This was no easy feat and definitely deserved recognition.
Excited by the chance to discuss the success of this project with the owner directly, I introduced myself and commended him on accomplishing such a daunting task. We talked at length about his perspective on what it takes to make changes on a large scale. He claimed that one of the key elements of their success was vision for change at the top. He explained that in order to begin taking steps toward change within any organization, you need to have leaders who see where they need to go. Then to carry that inertia forward, you need to partner with the right firms who are experienced in delivering the outcome you’ve envisioned. He then went on to say that this not only made the transition successful, but actually compressed their timeline. They were able to accelerate their plans because their project partners were well versed in the technologies they implemented.
Moving away from the traditional low-bid procurement process has allowed this owner to strategically partner with firms who have been integral to their success. This got me thinking about you. How do you improve your workflows in order to pull away from the pack? What priority has been placed on innovation within your organization? Is internal competition encouraged in order to allow the best and brightest to innovate beyond the status quo? If vision for change starts at the top, where do you see your firm going?