UDOT and its I-15 CORE partners, Provo River Constructors and partnering facilitator Tom Warne and Associates, were awarded the prestigious International Partnering Institute’s (IPI) John L. Martin Partnered Project of the Year – Diamond Level, at a ceremony in San Francisco, May 16.
“I-15 CORE demonstrated world-class partnering. The team focused on developing a collaborative project and program culture both within the project team and by integrating stakeholders throughout the entire process,” said Rob Reaugh, IPI Executive Director.
The ceremony was comprised of representatives from various state agencies and private companies from across the nation, and contractors, designers and architects and other firms associated with construction, partnering and facilitation.
“For UDOT, partnering is part of our culture and has been for years,” said Todd Jensen, I-15 CORE Project Director. “The partnering process enables decision makers from the Department and the contractor to come together to set common goals and expectations and to discuss openly any issues or challenges and how to overcome them. It’s a collaborative process that can be difficult and time consuming. Without a strong commitment to the partnering process, I believe UDOT would not be a national leader in the transportation industry that it is today.”
“In terms of project success, (I-15 CORE) was delivered $260 million under budget, 48 days early and processed more than 125 contract change orders without having a claim, and considering the number of man hours, was pretty successful from a safety standpoint,” Reaugh said.
According to Jensen, the project’s success was predicated on three keys: shared project goals, a commitment to continuous communication and a commitment to both following the formal partnering process and encouraging building relationships through informal partnering at all levels.
“With such a large project and PRC’s aggressive construction schedule, continuous communication was vital. We decided to co-locate the field offices as well as the main office to help foster face-to-face communications. Our priority was to encourage team members to talk with each other face-to-face first, followed by phone calls then email and finally letter,” Jensen said. “It was challenging and it placed people in uncomfortable situations at times, but the results of creating and encouraging a culture of communication speak for themselves.”
During the initial partnering sessions, leadership from both teams established a shared set of goals of safety, quality, trust, truth and teamwork, budget and profitability, communication, upholding the public trust, schedule and enjoying the process. The leadership team then further defined what each goal meant. This helped keep members focused on what was most important. Like all projects, there were disagreements, differing interpretations of the contract documents, but these were overcome or managed by keeping the project goals at the forefront of employees minds and trying to address issues as quickly as possible.
“As part of our monthly partnering surveys, we required that names be attached to comments. Not to single anyone out but to know where challenges were, so that we could talk with our counterparts and work with that respective group to help get things resolved,” Jensen said.
Another key to success was the emphasis on informal partnering outside of the formal process.
“Relationships can make or break a project. We tried to foster a culture that it was okay to escalate items if the team couldn’t come to a resolution. We encouraged working groups to meet individually and get to know one another on a personal level. Challenges will happen but if you get to know the person across the table, it can help you get issues resolved quickly,” Jensen said.
According to Warne, accountability was the last key to building a successful project. At each partnering meeting, the participants would discuss issues and develop action plans with responsible parties and timelines identified. In subsequent meetings, an accounting of progress for each action item had to be reported on.
“This team was particularly attentive to addressing the issues. Working together to solve problems and address issues strengthened the team and better prepared them for future challenges. Nothing short of an exceptional level of team work allowed them to deliver this project in record time,” Warne said.
Because of the commitment to partnering, I-15 CORE never needed to use the assigned Dispute Resolution Board or the project sponsors to help resolve issues; all the project’s goals were met or exceeded; and a sense of achievement developed among project team members.
For more information about the International Partnering Institute visit: www.partneringinstitute.org.
This guest post was written by I-15 CORE team member Geoff Dupaix.