Water Journal : Water Journal August 2011
feature article water AUGUST 2011 53 AAA Co-founder and Managing Director, Alain Mignot, says water sector industry participants were the first to adopt collaborative contracting and have played a lead role in developing the model in Australia and New Zealand. "Many in the water industry have been part of successful project and program alliances undertaken since the first alliance in Australia, Sydney Water's Northside Storage Tunnel Alliance in 1998," Mr Mignot says. "The project's successful use of a collaborative approach paved the way for more than 320 subsequent alliancing engagements in the region to date. It led to the establishment of the AAA as a not-for-profit centre of excellence focused on catalysing cross-sharing of experience. "Sharing of collaborative practice has in turn evolved delivery methods for infrastructure assets which have a high level of complexity, such as brownfield expansion or upgrade of water treatment plants and strained or ageing networks. Recent examples include South East Water's 'us' -- Utility Services alliance in Victoria, Sydney Water's Priority Sewerage Program, Metrowater's Clear Harbour Alliance in New Zealand and Melbourne Water's Water Resources Alliance." Productive Solution Typically, alliance projects involve many unknowns and a wider set of requirements beyond the usual time/cost/fitness-for- purpose. A collaborative project environment is often the only way to productively tackle the 'messy' and 'wicked' problems typical of ambiguous projects, where objectives may be clear but scope and implementation is uncertain. "The intellectual capability of a range of specialists is pooled to enable the creative synergies which solve complex problems faster than possible in traditional contracting, providing best value solutions that encompass benefits wider than monetary outcomes," says Mr Mignot. "We saw this on emergency drought response projects, where fast but adaptive response is paramount to community recovery. This was made possible by clients, contractors, designers and specialists sharing expertise and working together to quickly identify and agree on objectives, understand risks and develop options with triple bottom-line focus." Industry-wide Benefits According to Mr Mignot, it does not stop there, as productivity gains have also been realised through the development of more capable professionals in the industry. "After more than a decade of alliancing, there is a whole new generation of people with collaborative engagement skills, experience and methods for tackling project complexities. This approach to business often transpires in non-collaborative procurement, too. As a result, the water industry is now better equipped with capabilities and resources to address the new water management and recovery challenges to scale water supply to demographic changes or help drought-proof our communities. This has certainly enhanced productivity in the water sector." AAA members comprise leading public infrastructure agencies, constructors and designers who know the business and industry value of collaboration and want to make sure collaborative practices remain aligned with stakeholder needs. "AAA is a collective investment in the future of the whole industry and that's why they are part of this initiative. The association's programs and initiatives leverage the collaborative experiences to continue enhancing productivity and uplifting the level of relational skills across all industries," says Mr Mignot. Key AAA initiatives include: • Public Infrastructure Agencies Forum (PIAF); • Alliance Manager Forum (AMF); • Industry Forums: Quarterly discussion sessions around current practices; • Annual Convention: 18--19 October, 2011, in Brisbane; • Team of Excellence Award Program: Rewarding exceptional performance from Alliance teams and creating role models for others to emulate. AAA project committees comprise senior representatives of clients and industry who contribute to industry development, independent of any direct commercial interests. Current studies include: • Collaborative governance models: A planned three-year joint research program between QUT and AAA (ARC funding); • Professional Excellence in Alliance Management: A joint project by AAA, RMIT and Victoria University to identify typical profiles of skills, experience and behaviours demonstrated by top Alliance Managers to help develop people into this challenging role; • Annual survey of alliancing performance and perception: Identifies trends and tests the views of client organisations about collaborative procurement and delivery efforts over the previous two years. Effective and highly rated training programs include the Alliancing Life Cycle series, with courses ranging from procurement strategy to selection, contract and commercial agreements, building collaborative teams and troubleshooting alliance issues. The Advanced Series covers in-depth topics such as developing productive KRA/KPI frameworks and leadership and governance practices. Courses will be held on 6 September in Brisbane, and 29 September in Perth. For more information please visit: www.alliancingassociation. org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the AAA on (02) 9431 8622. Better productivity and improved relationship skills gained on early alliance projects inspired water and other infrastructure industry practitioners to establish a centre of excellence dedicated to developing collaborative contracting capability. The Alliancing Association of Australasia (AAA) was established in 2006 to leverage learnings and achievements from alliance projects and programs that had successfully delivered complex infrastructure projects. Alliancing Association of Australasia: Focusing On Productivity And People Alain Mignot, MD, Alliancing Association of Australasia.
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