Two Camps Come Together to Work Together
by Martha George
Cambridge - Often times, we find ourselves in opposing camps. On one side we have the buyers of construction services. In the other camp is most of us - the provider of construction services. We don't always see eye to eye. Mostly because we don't know enough about what is going on with the other side.
Last week, the GVCA addressed this issue. We hosted an event that invited both camps to the table. The buyers of construction services and the consulting community met up with experts from the legal, surety, procurement and Canadian Construction Association. Brian Watkinson of Strategies 4 Success professionally facilitated this half-day event. Brian is the previous Executive Director of the OAA as well as an architect. Through his consulting firm, he currently represents the Ontario Realty Corp. He was the perfect facilitator as he works with both camps.
The panel of experts shared their knowledge of the industry specifically addressing concerns we all have in this industry.
* The common thread throughout every presentation was whatever the process is; it needs to be FAIR to all parties involved.
* The experts cautioned against stacked contracts and language that protects only one player, putting all the risk on the other guy.
The GVCA hosted this event because we realized these two sectors (the buyers of construction and the providers of construction services) are facing incredible pressure due to the influx of the Government Stimulus Funding. As contractors, we often end up making up lost time to meet these demanding schedules.
* Issues such as the procurement process and which of design build, bid spec or construction management is the best choice in each circumstance was covered, although there is always room for more discussion on that topic!
* We covered CCA and CCDC contracts and encouraged the use of these documents (preferably unaltered) as they are fair and represent the best interests of all parties involved in the process. SEAL THE DEAL WITH CCDC CONTRACT SEALS! In addition, we highlighted the problem of onerous clauses in one-sided contracts that serve none of the parties fairly.
* Another hot topic was addressing capacity within their organizations to manage these new projects and what were realistic expectations and outcomes. One very workable idea is to sub contract some of these services out to our construction members instead of internally assuming them and overburdening already overworked purchasers, staff engineers and consultants.
The GVCA is working hard to provide resources to the buyers and consultants and to present your valid concerns to this group, which then need to be addressed before the tendering stage. Too often, we hear about issues that could have easily been avoided through better communication, a spirit of fairness and an honest understanding of the others' position.
This was a highly successful event and the participants were thrilled that we offered such professional, balanced and relevant information. Information events like these help to strengthen our relationships and foster a mutual understanding of both camps' reality. It is communication at its finest.