Project Team Partnering

Tower Crane 2A few months ago I posted an article about facilitating partnering meetings between owners and contractors.  In that article I provided an overview of facilitation and the benefits of engaging a facilitator.  This article discusses potential services and support a skilled facilitator can provide to project teams increasing productivity and collaboration.  In order to be authentic and trusted by the group, each facilitator adopts their unique style and methodology and adapts as required to lead highly productive sessions for the client(s).  I draw heavily from my military, aviation, and federal contracting background to work with my clients.

What Can a Facilitator Do For Your Next Project

Ideally the initial partnering session will occur shortly after notice to proceed, before any major issues have developed.  If not, any issues that arise can be more difficult to resolve.  A facilitator can assist in several areas before construction begins and can continue to add value to the team after construction begins.

The benefits of facilitation are numerous and often reflect the effort everyone (to include the facilitator) contributes to a successful outcome.  To claim any wins resulting from the facilitation effort it is necessary to develop reasonable metrics to monitor the team over time, otherwise it will be difficult to measure any tangible progress.  That said, several benefits include:

  1. More efficient / effective teams
  2. Better communication between owner – contractor
  3. Improved problem solving – the entire team owns problems
  4. Conflicts are resolved at the lowest possible level and those that can’t be resolved are escalated in accordance with the team’s escalation matrix.

VA MPP ImageFor some, a facilitator is just an added expense to the project, but based on my experience of having benefited from facilitation as a project manager and as facilitator the benefits gained far outweigh the direct cost.  Often schedule gains can be realized, trouble areas can be identified earlier, and costly delays can be mitigated.  These all lead to improved project delivery and can provide for a more enjoyable work environment for the whole team, owner and contractor.

Facilitator Neutrality

In general terms project team facilitation can be viewed as the process of an unbiased person helping a group identify, express, and solve problems, make decisions, and improve effectiveness.  Several key components of a group include how a group works together, the structure / composition of the team, and topic or subject the team is working on, i.e. the construction of a headquarters complex for the government client.

There are two, of many, factors that can influence the successful outcome of facilitation I would like mention.  First, it is important to select a facilitator that fits the group and is acceptable to all members of a group or team.  Second, the group members should be open to the concept of facilitation and participate in the sessions.  Without them the facilitation effort to move the team to a fully functioning group could move slower than desired.

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