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Project Partnering

Partnering provides an important means for communication between the project stakeholders. It provides a means to measure and monitor the satisfaction of the Project requirements; therefore, partnering also plays a key role in the continuous improvement cycle.

Principles of Partnering

Partnering acknowledges many groups—or stakeholders—with a vested interest in the success of the project. Stakeholders may include the end users, adjacent businesses and neighborhoods, the owner, the Contractor, subcontractors, groups within the project work force and service authorities. Partnering is successful when stakeholders share several basic behaviors:

  • Common “ownership” of the project—the joint acceptance of the responsibility to identify and resolve problems.
  • A commitment to fully disclose information that will aid the project team in reaching the best decisions possible.
  • The delegation of authority to empower participants to resolve conflict and make appropriate decisions at the project level.
  • A focus on attacking problems (not people) based on the best interests of the project as a whole.
  • A commitment to the partnering process as well as the willingness to accept its outcomes.
  • Genuine respect and trust among project participants.

Benefits of Partnering

Partnering can benefit project quality by building relationships and trust to allow members to function as one team. This, in turn, provides opportunities to fine tune performance and achieve project objectives. Partnering also helps control conflict and lays the groundwork for resolving differences.


It is important to understand some of the misperceptions about partnering. Partnering is not legally binding. Rather, it is a personal commitment by the participants to pursue the project’s mission, goals, dispute resolution process and evaluation procedures. Partnering is not a substitute for the design-build Contract or for the laws and regulations under which the Contract was issued. Furthermore, partnering does not involve compromising one’s better judgment. Project partners are empowered to communicate, explore problems, develop solutions, assess the merits of solutions and play a role in the decision to implement them.

Identifying Stakeholders

The senior management of the project need to discuss the potential stakeholders and agree upon the groups that will participate. Partnering is a voluntary decision for the senior management of these groups. The senior management must instill in the members of their group, that partnering is a requirement of their participation on the Project. It is important that senior management (or designated spokespersons) for any stakeholder remember this commitment to partnering during the partnering process.

Selecting a Facilitator and Coordinator

Senior management from the project are required to select neutral professional facilitator. The facilitator will prepare materials for workshops, suggest communication techniques, aid in establishing goals and serve as a negotiator when necessary. The facilitator will not be expected to work full-time on the Project. Senior management from the project will select partnering coordinators for the project. The coordinators will support the facilitator and the participants from the Client, the Engineer and Contractor in planning workshops, documenting workshop discussions and administering the monthly evaluation and follow-through programme.

Initial Partnering Workshop

The central element of the partnering process is the initial partnering workshop. The initial workshop will be attended by senior management of the Client, the Engineer and Contractor, and other stakeholders as mutually identified. This workshop will produce or develop action plans for producing:

  • A vision or mission statement for the project
  • A signed partnering agreement or charter for the project
  • Evaluation procedures
  • Issue resolution procedures
  • The follow-up process
  • Identification of a project-level partnering “sponsor” from each stakeholder to lead the partnering effort for the stakeholder.
  • Identification of teams that will partner at lower levels or tiers within the project; e.g., project management, design, construction and quality.

Team Workshops

Each team will hold initial partnering workshops to produce or develop action plans for producing:

  • A vision or mission statement for the team
  • Evaluation procedures
  • Issue resolution procedures
  • The follow-up process
  • Identification of a team-level partnering “sponsor” from each stakeholder to lead the partnering effort for the stakeholder.

The products of the initial team workshops will be consistent with and support the products of the initial partnering workshop, but will also focus on the unique aspects of this team and its role on the project.


The performance of each team and of the overall project will be measured and evaluated on a monthly or alternate-month basis. During the early months of the Project, monthly evaluations would be appropriate. The project-level partnering sponsors will designate the evaluation period.

Evaluation forms will be distributed by the partnering coordinator to selected members of each team, including the senior management representatives from the Client, the Engineer and Contractor. Partnering sponsors from each stakeholder on each team will designate the team members who will perform the evaluations for their group. The evaluation forms will list the goals in the team’s partnering agreement or charter, and each evaluator will rate the team’s performance during the preceding period (month or two months) in relation to each goal. Senior management from the Client, the Engineer and Contractor will evaluate overall project performance in relation to the goals in the project partnering agreement or charter.

A Likert scale from 1 to 5 will be used for this evaluation, with 1 indicating poor performance and 5 indicating excellent performance. Evaluators will be encouraged to provide written comments for each item rated, particularly where ratings of 3 or less are given. The partnering coordinator will compile the evaluations and prepare a report that provides, for each team, the mean rating on each item from each stakeholder. Ratings will be charted and presented with a history of the prior five periods to facilitate trend analysis. Written comments from evaluators will also be included in the coordinator’s reports. Partnering sponsors from each team will meet jointly with the partnering facilitator or partnering coordinator after each evaluation period to review the evaluation results and to develop action plans for correction of adverse trends or current problems, as appropriate.

Issue Resolution

Partnering sponsors from each stakeholder on each team will identify counterparts at appropriate levels within their team. Team members will be encouraged to resolve issues at the lowest level within the team. Partnering sponsors will set timeframes for issue resolution, and issues that are not resolved within those timeframes will be escalated to the next level within the team.

The project-level partnering sponsors will determine how the escalation process will extend from each team into the senior management structure of the Project. Any person may request at any time that an issue be escalated to the next level. The partnering facilitator or partnering coordinator may assist in the negotiation of any issue at the request of any involved team member.

The Follow-up Process

At times determined by the partnering sponsors, any team may hold follow-up partnering workshops during the course of the project. These sessions are used to review the charter; modify goals, if needed; discuss how the team is performing; and develop action plans, if needed.

Training and Knowledge

Partnering facilitators have background and training in the techniques of partnering, knowledge of the design and construction industry, and expertise in organisational development, communications and team building. Partnering coordinators have expertise in organisational development, communications and team building.


The senior management of the Client, the Engineer and Contractor are responsible for organising and supporting the partnering program.


Records retained as evidence of compliance with this procedure include the partnering agreements or charters, lists of partnering sponsors, lists of individuals on issue escalation ladders, completed evaluation forms and the partnering coordinator’s evaluation reports. The partnering coordinator is responsible for providing copies of partnering records to the document control manager. The document control manager will maintain a separate file for each partnering team.

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