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Cost Savings from Coordinated Construction Administration Training in Alaska

Aug 29, 2019 | Monitor

Ronald Leaders
Ronald Leaders, Contract Solutions Group, can be contacted at 206.463.7487 or [email protected]
Gary Kuhn
Gary Kuhn, P.E., Consulting Engineer, can be contacted at [email protected]

The current Alaska State budget challenges present an opportunity to achieve substantial construction cost savings by upgrading how public and private construction projects are administered and managed.  Cost savings through improvements and changes to current project delivery methods have been known to be available for decades. This article encourages industry leaders to take a hard look at implementing an innovative industry-wide training approach to address current state budget and economic problems in Alaska.

The solutions to these problems have also been well-known, studied, and documented for a long time. The Construction Industry Institute has identified an 11.4 percent improvement in project cost growth by implementing best practices of change management.  Ronald Leaders, of Contract Solutions Group, has more than forty years of experience in construction dispute avoidance, claim resolution, and construction process improvements. He has developed and presented more than 100 training workshops and webinars on avoiding construction disputes and creating more effective construction individuals and teams.

Current training content available to state and local agency entities do not typically address these knowledge and skill development areas needed to achieve best practices in change management. This article outlines an innovative approach for Alaska entities involved in design and construction to upgrade and improve their training and skills in an industry-wide collaborative model which can result in substantial benefits and lower training costs than use of traditional training content models.

Why has existing training not focused on these high value areas of substantial cost savings.  A primary cause is an excessive and unfounded reliance that professional job experience will be an accurate predictor of the level of knowledge, skill, and judgement needed to implement best practices of change management.  Reviews of project problems and causes of major disputes  instead indicates that years of experience is not a good predictor of the level of knowledge, skills, and judgment needed for implementing best practices.  A professional with twenty years of experience may not yet have achieved the level of contract administrative maturity required of today’s complex projects.

Systemic change does not normally bubble up from the bottom of institutional organizations.  Executive leadership and direction are usually required to implement systemic changes, such as mandating specific knowledge and skill development training requirements for public works projects which may be required to achieve the cost savings associated with change management best practices. 

Fortunately, there is a proven skill development training that can assist you to achieve your goals and thereby demonstrate wise project execution and change management practices over time. The mission of this training program is to provide that level of knowledge to professionals and industry project staff to reduce project delivery costs. Through this training and skill development, deployed in easily ascertainable teaching modules, this model tailors training to the construction industry for a skill set that is missing. The right training in best practices of change management will tangibly and positively improve your business outcomes through a disciplined approach to training your staff.

The Washington legislature recently established this direction to improve training and expertise requirements when it mandated that all state employees with responsibilities for state contracts for goods and services take contract management training. This initial training was provided to 24,000 state employees with another 8,000 expected to take an additional six to seven hours of advanced contract management training during 2019 and 2020. The legislature properly recognized that an investment in training state employees would generate cost savings and better contracting results for state goods and services. In Alaska, this executive direction could come from a legislative directive, but could more easily be implemented by executive leadership direction within various state and local agency organizations, design and construction management professionals and perhaps even the private sector contractor community.

Further, the research and industry experience are clear in that investments in training to improve contract administration practices can be expected to produce a significant return on the investment through improved contracting results and cost savings. A targeted investment in the right areas of training for your employees will have a positive impact on your project deliveries in the future.

The current budget and economic challenges present a unique opportunity for all construction stakeholders in Alaska to work together and implement a unique industry-wide approach to training and skill development which focuses on best practices to improve results and success for all parties involved in a construction project.

The authors of this article are available for consultation on an integrated training delivery approach for your project training needs. We believe this will improve your contracting practices and results. It is time to think outside the box on workforce development and we would be pleased to help you implement what we see as a unique training approach for the Alaskan construction industry.

Look for an upcoming article which will provide more details on the recommended training content and a blended training approach using self-paced training modules to build knowledge foundations and live interactive advanced skills development and case study workshop sessions to strengthen the implementation of best practices into everyone’s daily work.

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