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Cade  Rowley, P.E.

Cade Rowley, P.E.

Creating Partnerships to Overcome Barriers to Implementing CM/GC

by Cade Rowley, P.E. on September 15, 2011
Vice President, Sundt Construction, Inc.

How many times have you heard the adage "If it's not broken, don't fix it"? This thought process has been the argument for decades as it relates to contracting methods. Would you ignore a better method if it came your way just because you have always done it one particular way? CM/GC provides a contracting tool that properly allocates and reduces risk, optimizes schedules, improves design quality, decreases overall project cost, and increases your chances of having a successful project.

Resistance to change stands as one of the greatest barriers to successfully implementing CM/GC as a recognized contracting tool across the nation. Most often this resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown or a lack of trust in a new process. Building partnerships with public agencies and private industry created a successful model in Arizona that led to Arizona's successful implementation of Construction Manager at Risk (Arizona's version of CM/GC) on transportation projects. One of the key groups that helped bring all the parties together was the Alliance for Construction Excellence at Arizona State University. The Alliance for Construction Excellence provided a neutral organization in which owners, agencies, professional associations, contactors, and engineers could work together to resolve concerns and build consensus related to implementing alternative project delivery methods such as CM/GC. By building consensus in this forum, legislation was drafted by the group that included language all parties could agree to and state law makers were successfully addressed by the group with one voice. This led to laws being put into place to allow alternative project delivery in Arizona.

This was a major accomplishment and the group has continued to work together over the years to make necessary adjustments to the law, provide training for panel members to ensure fairness and transparency in the procurement process, act as a "think tank" to solve challenges faced by the industry, and to establish committees to address on-going challenges. Establishment of this type of neutral organization has been crucial to the success of Arizona's CM/GC program and should be considered as a best practice to help overcome the resistance to change for other states exploring the use of CM/GC.

CM/GC is not the answer for every project; however it is a very effective tool to have in your "procurement toolbox". Projects with the following characteristics are ideal for CM/GC:

  • Projects with risks that are difficult to define
  • Projects with complex phasing, traffic movements, or limited access and staging
  • Projects that require innovative solutions to unique problems
  • Projects that would benefit from contractor input during the design phase
  • High profile projects where meeting stakeholder needs are a top priority

We must continue to share our ideas, successes, and challenges with one another to overcome the fear of the unknown. I encourage you to explore the CM/GC process and help your agency or company support this tool that creates a winning experience for all parties involved.

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