Can you rely upon relationships?

In using Bridging or any other project delivery method I have always contended that program managers and architects should focus first on the Owner’s posture for purchasing construction.  In my view, virtually all construction Owners fall into one of two different categories:

  • Owners who may prudently rely upon relationships in the procurement of construction.
  • Owners who may not or should not rely upon relationships for the procurement of construction.

The smart way of going about the procurement of construction for these two different types of Owners is as different from one another as day is from night.

Owners who may be able to rely upon relationships in the procurement of construction would be owners such as major real estate developers (in normal economic times) who are constantly in the market for new projects of a similar nature and from whom their architects, engineers and contractors can reasonably expect a good bit of repeat business if those consultants and contractors always provide a very good, trouble free service.  This category also includes such user owners as companies like Wal-Mart who are constantly building new facilities for their company businesses.

Owners who should not, or may not, rely upon relationships in the procurement of construction includes virtually all public sector owners and those private sector owners  that are not regularly in the market for new construction of the same type in the same market area.   Of course any owner’s rep, architect, engineer, program manager or the Owner’s facilities planning/management executives would be unwise not to have good and friendly working relationships with all entities in the construction program.  However, there is a big difference between a pleasant business relationship between the different players in a construction program and the owner allowing itself to be put into a position in which it is dependent upon relationships to obtain fair prices and agreements that are fair and suitable to the owner contractually.

It is this second group of owners that the Bridging method was developed for originally. Yet, today some of the first types of owners who are sort of “belt and suspenders” oriented are also now embracing Bridging.