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Project Collaboration - Best Practices

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Section I-6
Agency Construction Management

Construction Management – CM as Adviser
The Construction Manager as Adviser (CMa) provides advice and expertise on constructability, cost, schedule, and construction methodology to the Owner and the Project Team beginning early in the project life cycle, and remains an adviser to the Owner throughout the project.  The CMa assists the Owner in hiring the construction team, and sometimes in hiring the design team, but remains an advisor, not a constructor, during the construction phase. The CMa does not assume financial responsibility for the final constructed cost of the project and does not directly perform any of the construction work. The CMa must have extensive knowledge of construction practices, costs, and trends for input to the Owner, and the project team, throughout the project.  For this reason, many general contractors have expanded their services to include Advisory Construction Management.  CMa is the original form of modern construction management, where the owner has the advantage of expert advice in addition to that provided by the design and construction teams, and with this expert input, can develop detailed construction phase plans far in advance of hiring the construction team.  Preconstruction services, in the form of advisory assistance to the Owner prior to construction, include schedule, budget, and constructability advice during the project planning and design phases.
Selecting the CMa

The CM as Adviser plays a critical role in the success of a project. A heavy emphasis should be placed on the proper selection of the CMa to provide the best value to the Owner. A Qualifications-Based Selection System (similar to that described for Design Professionals in Section I-2) should be used to solicit proposals from a reasonable number of prequalified Construction Managers. Solicitations should identify the scope of preconstruction, design, procurement, and construction phase services. Solicitations should also identify the CM’s responsibility for estimating, constructability review, project planning, and scheduling, along with the CM fee structure. It is appropriate for the Architect to assist the Owner in this process, if they are on board.  Conversely, if the CMa is established first, it is appropriate for them to assist with the selection of the Architect. 

Competitive pricing of the trade and general contracts for construction typically is part of the CMa project delivery process.  A competitive process can also be employed in the selection of the Construction Manager-Adviser.  Evaluation of the CMa candidates’ experience, expertise, and marketplace position should be strongly considered, along with the CMa fee structure.  When selecting a Construction Manager, careful consideration should be given equally to the staff, experience, and capabilities of the preconstruction phase team, as well as the construction phase team.

Two  commonly used contract forms for this project delivery system are AIA Document C132–2009 (formerly B801CMa–1992)Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Construction Manager as Adviser, and A132–2009 (formerly A101CMa–1992)Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor, Construction Manager as Adviser Edition.

Managing Roles / Responsibilities
Comprehensive management of every stage of the project, beginning with the original concept and project definition and continuing through the design, procurement, and construction phases, yields the greatest possible benefit to Owners from Construction Management. Construction Management provides for very consistent schedule and budget management. It is imperative, especially with CMa, that the Owner defines and maintains a clear understanding of the roles of the project team and fosters a collaborative working relationship.

Budget Management

During the design phase of a project, the CMa assists with estimating the cost of constructing a project based on a description from the design team and ownerthat conveys the preliminary design and what is proposed to be built. If certain aspects of the preliminary design are identified as probable factors causing a cost estimate to exceed the Owner’s budget goals, a group decision can be made to modify the design, saving time, effort, and design fees for re-designing and modifying completed construction documents. With this level of informed decision-making during the early design phases of a project, the Owner may also be able to procure or identify additional funding for the project rather than reduce the desired scope or quality.

Advantages of this Delivery System
Advisory CM is a fee-based service in which the CMa is responsible exclusively to the Owner and acts in the Owner's interests at every stage of the project. The CMa can offer advice, unaffected by any conflicting interest, on matters such as:

  • Optimum use of available funds;
  • Control of the scope of work;
  • Project scheduling;
  • Optimum use of design and construction firms' skills and talents;
  • Avoidance of delays, changes, and disputes;
  • Enhancing project design and construction quality;
  • Optimum flexibility in contracting and procurement;
  • Cash flow management.

The CMa approach adds a fourth party to the basic project relationship who plays a significant coordinating role.  This approach has great potential to support and take advantage of a highly collaborative project team.

The procurement and construction phases of the project can be pursued using many project delivery methods including competitive bidding, negotiated, accelerated, and collaborative methods.  Again, the CMa provides advice, assistance, and logistical support.  In addition, the CMa can be instrumental in monitoring quality and progress.

This method is extremely well suited to “Multiple Prime” contracts such as required under Pennsylvania’s Separations Act of 1913.  The CMa can take on the coordinating role typically played by a general contractor in a more conventional contract arrangement.  This construction coordination role is missing from the requirements of the PA Separations Act.

Disadvantages of this Delivery System:
The primary disadvantage of the Agency CM system involves the relationship among the Design Professionals, CM, GC, and Owner. The CMa, as a fourth party to the relationship, can cause confusion about the head of the project organization.  Owners often designate the CMa as their representative without carefully establishing a communication plan that maintains proper direct involvement of the Owner with the design and construction teams.  These communication issues can result in serious misunderstandings regarding the Owner’s needs versus the design program, which can lead to tensions over design intent,  construction quality, and the completeness of the design.  Impacts to schedule and budget can arise, as in most delivery methods. Conflicting interests and stake-holding can become similar to the traditional Design-Bid-Build system, and adversarial relationships may result. In addition:

  • This system introduces a fourth party to the team, which requires more team building, coordination, and careful communication;
  • The general and trade contractors are not part of the early collaboration;
  • The CMa, rather than the General Contractor, provides schedule expediting and cost-saving suggestions during the design phase.

CMa is a complicated arrangement, best suited to large and complex projects.  Owners with little or no construction industry experience tend to place excessive trust in this method and often develop unrealistic expectations regarding the various roles – including their own.

Maintaining Positive Working Relationships

An atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect needs to be maintained throughout the course of the project for any project delivery process to function properly. Every party (Owner, CM, Architect, Engineers, Consultants, and Constructors) needs to be allowed opportunities to offer input and expertise. This input also needs to be considered, rather than challenged, by the other members of the team. Input from the CMa about any assumptions made, or deviations from the preliminary design description taken in the course of their cost estimating, must also be conveyed to the Design Team to ensure the design is developed in concert with the project budget.

Through constant and open communications between all parties during all phases of the project, the CMa system maximizes awareness amongst the Owner, Design Team, Construction Team, and Construction Manager - Adviser of each others goals and expectations. This allows each party to perform their part of the project in the most effective manner.  Typically, however, the constructor is added late in the process and does not participate in the essential collaboration.

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TAGS: Section I-5.

Glossary Terms for the Best Practices Guide

History of Recommendation:
Approved July, 2010
Revised March, 2014

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