Application of Construction Partnering in Hong Kong
Construction in Hong Kong is very competitive as companies in Hong Kong have earned themselves a good name in building high end buildings within a very short time. They adopt various construction techniques to come up with the end results. They include: design & build method as well as reclamation. These methods have made Hong Kong to be a regional leader in construction. Hong Kong even goes ahead to export its building and construction services to the countries of Asia and Middle East. The major services include engineering consulting, project management and contracting. In Hong Kong most companies have gone ahead to apply the partnering process in their projects during construction over the past 10-15 years since it has favorable results and its use has been rapidly increasing over the years (Chan, et al. 2002). This paper will examine benefits of partnering comprehensively and will review literature on the application of partnering in Hong Kong to come up with a comprehensive piece that reviews all the angles of partnering in construction.
It is through partnering that all salient players of a project get involved in the construction process. The construction process has high likelihood to be completed within the stipulated time and within the budget and with very few conflicts, defects in the work and claims. Also in this paper there are studies that were conducted in the secondary sources and therefore it will highlight some of the findings regarding an improved relationship amongst participants of the project. It is therefore important to encourage more partnering ventures in the building and construction industry since it is making business in the industry boom and improving the quality of services rendered.
Albert et al. (2002) cite that the construction industry in Hong Kong is a high risk business and very competitive, thus facing many problems, such as limited trust, communication channels are broken hence ineffective and very little co-operation. This strains the relationship between stakeholders in the industry. When stakeholders' relationship is strained, these problems pour out to the services rendered in the industry, such as project delays, cost overruns, win-lose situations, litigation and lots of difficulties in solving claims laid upon them. With these problems looming, a new project management had to be put in place to solve these problems. This is mainly because the industry which could bring Hong Kong a lot of revenue was actually drowning it in debt instead.
There are various management techniques that were put forward to overcome the hurdles that have crippled the industry. Partnering is among those techniques that were upheld and implemented. It attempts to make two organizations have a working and effective project management process. Partnering can be achieved through creation of comprehensive project culture that does the same function that a corporate culture does in an organized large organization. Although there are numerous benefits that result from the partnering approach, transmission and implementation of this approach is an uphill task since changing old habits becomes very hard and building trust amongst participants is also very hard.
An Overview of Partnering As a Whole
Understanding the meaning of partnering before jumping to its benefits is crucial for any individual. According to Scott (2001), partnering "is a relationship between two or more companies or organizations which is formed with the express intent of improving performance in the delivery of projects". It is the establishing of good working relations between project parties in terms of trust, commitment, respect, shared goals and team work. It also involves ensuring that costs are kept at a minimum.
Features of Partnering
- Inter-Organizational Trust
In the partnering process, there has to be an understanding of the partner's motives and cynicism should be avoided, the partner's goals and risks should always be considered and through this mutual trust is achieved.
- Mechanism for Problem Solving
During a partnering workshop, a problem solving mechanism is put in place to ensure reduction of conflicts among the partners and also to make sure that any claims brought forward are solved without further adieu.
- Mutually Agreed Goals
This is made possible in a partnering workshop whereby overlapping goals of the partners are put together and ways are set through which they are to be achieved. The goals may include delivering the project on or before the due date, engineering savings and marinated service quality.
This is the most important feature of them all, especially from the senior management, when there is a commitment. The project is as good as done since through the commitment, the work will be quickly and efficiently done and the services rendered will be out of this world.
- Win-Win Philosophy
The partners forge a way forward in which their common goals can be achieved and they come up with solution through which they all benefit from the project without stepping over the edge on the other partner (Moore, et al 1992).
This is achieved by a written and signed partnering charter by all the involved project parties. It signifies the commitment of the parties and indicates common goals and trust among the parties. The partner charter also helps in the reduction of disputes since its written agreement and it also displays of what is expected of all the project parties and since all the team players will guard their common goals to avoid distortion. In addition to the partner charter, the team building sessions, workshops and establishing a problem solving process are among the various aids that help the partnering process to be a success.
- Factors Affecting the Applicability of the Partnering Process
The main reason why partnering is used in the first place is to meet mutual goals of the project parties which also involve various incentives and benefits. The process is affected by various factors and they include:
- Management Mechanisms
Common management mechanisms before the partnering process is implemented include choosing a facilitator who is well aware of the partnering process. A partner selection process is also put in place so as to get quality and dependable partners. And lastly, a training program for the partners can also be set to ensure that the new knowledge is assimilated in the partnering process to ensure new information regarding the project is assimilated into the process. After the process has been implemented, a partner charter could be put down to ensure that all parties are committed and respect is established among them. A problem resolution process can also be put in place to help in smoothing the process of partnering, objective measures and monitoring. Evaluation tools should as well be put in place to ensure huge success of the partnering process. If this management mechanism is not adhered to or implemented, this may lead to the problems and even failure of the partnering process.
- Involved Organizations
The organizations involved also affect the applicability of the partnering process. The parties have to show their commitment towards the process. The involved organizations must also have mutual goals for the partnering process to move smoothly since they all will work towards realizing their goals which will in turn be a success for the process as a whole. The involved parties should have respect to each other and must be willing to adhere to the management mechanisms put in place and if all the above is adhered to, the applicability of the partnering process will be smooth and have huge success.
- Project Dimensions
Dimensions of the project are also a very important factor that determines the applicability of the partnering process. Large projects are hard top handle and therefore are supposed to be manned and have parties that are very dedicated to ensure their completion. Projects with high-cost usage are also of crucial matter hence the parties involved are supposed to make sure that they adhere to the cost plan set to avoid conflicts and claims. This way, the partnering process will be a success even on projects that would otherwise bring problems in an ordinary construction setting.
- Trust Among the Project Parties
Trust is hard to find and therefore before the partnering process takes off, there has to be mutual trust among the involved parties so as to ensure smooth process without pointing a finger when something does not go right or a blunder occurs. The project parties must have trust among themselves that they will deliver the service they are meant to with utmost accuracy and within the stipulated time (Shek-Pui P.W & Sai-on C. 2003).
Benefits of Applying Partnering in Construction in Hong Kong
- Reduced Litigation
In the past years, litigation became a major hindrance of potential project saving and with the advent of project partnering in the recent years, this nuisance has been curbed through enhance of the working relationship and open communication, conflicts like litigation are greatly reduced.
- Better Cost Control
Partnering is believed to have great impact on the cost performance in projects by reducing budget overruns. There are reasons as to why there is an improved cost performance and this includes reduction in the work that has to be redone and open communication. Blame shifting has been highly reduced, change order rates have been lowered tremendously and there has been great understanding of the project's objectives.
- Efficient Problem Solving
In the partnering workshop, a problem resolution mechanism is put in place so as to solve problems as and when they arise and once dealt with, they rarely re-occur as mechanisms are put in place to abolish it completely hence this reduces any future problems.
- Adequate Communication
Through partnering, the traditional hierarchy channels of communication are eradicated and in turn there is the openness, trust and an efficient communication system. Open communication ensures that delays are avoided and any additional costs are communicated in good time to avoid wrangles.
- Closer Relationship
Partnering provides for close working relationship between the project parties and gives a proper working environment in which the parties work in. The enhanced communication, the mutual trust built and the common goals that the parties have help them work closely together and when a problem occurs there is the collective agreement of its existence and ways of eliminating the problem are put in place.
Application of the partnering process in Hong Kong was the best thing to happen to the building and construction industry. Although it was difficult to implement it, it has benefited the industry in more than one way and has seen the industry rise to its former glory. The application of the process is influenced by various factors and if taken into consideration, it ensures smooth implementation and success of the partnering process. The process has major benefits, such as closer working relation, open communication, better cost control, avoiding of litigations and an efficient problem solving mechanism.