Why the delivery partner model works

7 min read

Around the world, there is a pipeline of projects worth trillions of dollars waiting to be delivered by 2030. And whether we are looking at rail infrastructure in North America, or giga projects in Saudi Arabia, success calls for a model that is founded on trust, fairness and transparency.

The complex relationship between stakeholders is a feature of any major programme and unless there is a clear long-term strategy in place from the outset (with defined project governance, expectations, and outcomes), project participants often end up working in silos to the detriment of the overall programme. Milestones are missed. Budgets are exceeded. And progress is delayed.

Given the task ahead for our industry in delivering on such a huge pipeline of programmes, the collaborative delivery partner model is emerging as the go-to approach. But why should you consider it?

A recipe for success

The traditional construction project delivery model typically puts the focus on the engineering and design aspects of a programme – where the design team is appointed prior to the contractor. Late involvement by key participants, who miss out on the definition, planning and design stages of the project, can give rise to significant challenges during the delivery. Operating in silos means that the risk and rewards of the overall outcome aren’t shared between the parties, which consequently can lead to delays, disputes, budgets overrunning, and relationships being strained.

This is where the delivery partner model offers a preferrable approach on major programmes. A delivery partner gives clients the single guiding mind achieving trust and collaboration from the outset, taking the strain off supply chain and procurement requirements that many public sector organisations are not equipped to manage on their own.

Trust, fairness and transparency underpin the approach. Delivery partners are embedded within teams across all levels of the client organisation, in the role of a fair and trusted strategic advisor. The focus is on doing the right thing for the project and bringing out the best in every player involved on the programme. Above all, there is a collective focus on outcomes and an incentive for milestones to be met on time.

The model allows project participants to work together and share information from the very beginning. Following a clear strategy, collaborative contracts are set out early, risk is balanced and clearly stated in the tender documents. It comes down to making sure that the party who can manage the risk is responsible for the risk. Contractors who feel confident will invest in R&D. Conversely, when too much risk is placed on contractors for issues that could not conceivably be in their control, they will be disincentivised to focus on the overarching goals.

As part of this collaborative approach, there is a clear framework in place to instill good behaviour and identify pragmatic solutions. The types of behaviours and skills that are needed to deliver a project are clearly identified from the outset, when objectives, resources, roles and responsibilities are defined with the long-term success of the programme in mind. In any delivery journey, bumps in the road are inevitable, but with the trust placed in partners though this model, issues are worked through together with a focus on the end-goal.

The proof is in the pudding

Practical experience from major infrastructure programmes has taught us that the delivery partner model works. The London 2012 Olympic Games was an undeniable benchmark, but aspects of it have also been used with great success on other major programmes - including Lima 2019 Pan American and Parapan American Games as well as Expo 2020 Dubai.

On the Lima 2019 Games for example, the programme comprised USD$ 500 m of complex infrastructure, which was procured, designed and constructed within a 20-month period. 1086 apartments in the Athletes Village were delivered in 18 months and The Aquatics Centre at Videna Sports Complex was delivered in 15 months, nine months ahead of the international benchmark of 24 months.

Given that there is an indisputable link between the successful performance of a construction programme and the type of delivery model utilised, it’s no surprise that the delivery partner model has grown in popularity in recent decades. The clear, transparent, and collaborative nature of the approach resonates with clients who have an innovative attitude to programme delivery, with a willingness to learn, knowledge share and adopt best practice.

As we set out to deliver on the huge pipeline of mega programmes around the world, we can draw with conviction on the implementation of the delivery partner model on past programmes to ensure successful outcomes for the future.

I want a better perspective on