Greater than the Sum of the Parts – How Partnerships Enhance Value in Infrastructure Project

Large infrastructure projects and frameworks inevitably involve many partners. The diversity of skills and experience brought by customers’ teams, contractors, technical specialists, consultants and the contractor’s supply chain can add enormous value. This diversity also brings risks.

The complexity of performance management and communication can easily be multiplied by the number of partners. Without appropriate structures in place, accountability can be diluted, while partners lack the opportunity to contribute all of their expertise and knowledge.

Additionally, individual partners can become too focused on tracking and measuring their part of the process – to the detriment of the overall project. Everyone thinks they did a good job and yet the project still fell short of the value it could have delivered. Opportunities to innovate or share lessons learned are missed because nobody sees sharing as their job.

The goal must be to create an environment and a community where everyone feels that they work ‘for the project’ rather than for their individual organisation. Rather than working within their own structures and processes, all partners become part of the customer’s process and structure.

This has to be supported by a common framework for performance management and communication, and a strong learning culture shared by all partners. There’s no value in paying lip service to collaboration. It has to be genuine and it has to be a core requirement for everyone involved.

A collaborative partnership or framework will have the following features:
•An overarching performance plan that cascades into call-off projects, sub-projects and subcontractors.
•Individual performance objectives linked to those of the project or framework.
•Balanced scorecards and performance dashboards that visualise performance management indicators at a glance.
•Processes that allow all partners to learn and potentially adapt from the insight of others
•Common Innovation Registers, Environmental Management Plans, and Community Engagement Project Execution Plans.

When project objectives are aligned, designing out defects and risk management become responsibilities shared by all partners. With genuinely collaborative structures and ways of working the value of partnerships really can become more than a sum of the parts.

Transport Infrastructure Resource Centre

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