In an alliance, trust between the parties is what makes the project organisation work. Trust is built through openness and interaction.
An alliance is a project model based on transparent cooperation. The project organisation formed by the parties is mutually responsible for the planning and construction of the project. The risks and benefits are also shared, which means that everyone wins or loses. Alliances are mainly used in challenging projects involving many uncertainties and stakeholders, such as industrial projects (Naantali CHP), hospital projects (Lapland Central Hospital expansion, new building for Vaasa Central Hospital) or public transport projects (Tampere Tramway, Jokeri Light Rail, Crown Bridges).
However, selecting an alliance as the implementation method does not automatically mean that everything will run smoothly. Bringing all the operators under the same contract in an alliance means that all the bookkeeping is open and that all activities from invoicing to cost monitoring and predictions are transparent. There may be some arguments and misunderstandings at the beginning when the parties are unsure about the distribution of responsibilities.
Juha Saarikoski from the City of Helsinki works as the client’s Project Manager for Jokeri Light Rail and believes that cooperation and interaction skills are particularly emphasised in managerial and supervisory duties and in the shared Big Room functions; you must know how to listen to others and value their opinions and be genuinely worthy of their trust.
In addition to the parties in the alliance project, you must be able to build trust with external stakeholders, such as end users and taxpayers. Listening to the wishes and views of different parties and openly and honestly communicating the progress of the projects helps here as well.
Problems solved internally
When problems arise, they are solved openly and trustfully, without accusations.
“We printed out the rules of the project, had everyone sign them and placed them on the wall in the Big Room. The rules serve as a benchmark for our completed tasks and help us reflect on our activities,” says Markus Kaustinen, YIT Project Manager for the Bothnia High 5 alliance of Vaasa Central Hospital.
If the issue cannot be solved by the project group, it is forwarded to the alliance management team who discusses the matter until all the parties reach an agreement.
Alliance projects benefit the entire construction industry as the lessons learned in the alliance experience can be used in future projects.
“Alliance projects are giving rise to a new generation of clients, constructors and designers who are used to daily cooperation across client-constructor-designer borders,” says Saarikoski.
The Bothnia High 5 alliance of Vaasa Central Hospital involves five parties with a shared goal of building 37,000 m2 of various healthcare facilities, services and wards.
Jokeri Light Rail is an exceptional alliance project in many ways. It has two clients instead of one, and it is the first alliance project for the clients, Helsinki and Espoo. Jokeri Light Rail is also an enormous undertaking; the eight operators have up to 900 people working on the project.
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