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5 Rules Of Commissioning Management

5 Rules of Commissioning Management

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 62) – All IMHO:

How many projects with defects and poorly functioning building systems will be accepted by owners before they say ENOUGH!

The answer to owners non-performing buildings is design phase Commissioning (Quality Management) plus Commissioning Management & Validation during construction phase (Quality Assurance). Commissioning Management & Validation is;

  • “The planning, organisation, co-ordination and control of Commissioning activities”  (CIBSE Code M Definition). I would also add to this role “verification” or “witnessing” (UK parlance) of systems performance ~ 70% soft & 30% technical skill sets.

However, there is an industry wide lack of awareness about Commissioning Management, which is not helped by the extreme shortage of competent Commissioning Managers and Firms. Why are they so hard to find?

Short answer;

There is a dearth of technical and management skills in the talent pool available to the property industry. This scarcity is amplified by the demographic time bomb of experienced baby boomers retiring at record rates.

Long answer;

  1. Large A&E firms will tell you there is no shortage of these skills within their firm. However this is not all that it seems, as their firm is a “big tent” but not necessarily with the specialist skill sets. Big A&E design firms tend to be soul destroying and generalists, all firms fish for talent in the same, shrinking sea. 
  2. Commissioning and Commissioning Management as an “Add Service” for large A&E firms is no answer. Their core business is building / engineering design. In my experience, Commissioning by these firms is a “loss leader” for building design services and utilizes under employed designers and field technicians with few, if any full time specialized Commissioning professionals. 
  3. The consequences for doing poor Commissioning work are very low, mainly due to the issues created by inadequate MEP design and Commissioning normally manifesting post occupancy. This allows inexperienced and unqualified Commissioning teams to survive.

Bottom line, the incentives to do good Commissioning work, i.e. sufficient fees, status and acknowledgement by the client and industry are just not really there. This is unfortunate because, if high performance buildings with low levels of defects are required then Commissioning and Commissioning Management is the answer. Think of Commissioning as “Total Quality Management” (TQM) for the building design and construction industry. Not sure about TQM? It was a game changer for the car industry. TQM drove down defects and increased quality exponentially resulting in the rise of the Japanese car manufacturer to world dominance. Are Lexus low quality? Hell no!

IMHO, for high quality building outcomes the Commissioning Management firm is a key appointment. When I look at the big picture and think about Commissioning firms I see 5 “Rules of Commissioning Management”:

  1. People, people and people, not just firms – as in any other aspect of technical and management work, people are everything. Hire well, reward talent and drop poor performers. 
  2. You cannot manage what you do not measure – if you do not track performance, you will lose control. Track the right KPI’s and act swiftly based on intelligence and analysis.
  3. Integrity – always tell it as it is, with nothing added or taken away, put the client and project first. 
  4. Projects have scope. Keep to scope, nothing else – beware scope creep, stay on point. 
  5. Find and resolve issues early – record and resolve design and construction issues as soon as possible.

Good Commissioning firms subconsciously incorporate and live these rules. They demonstrate their integrity, knowledge and experience through their work and interactions on the project. 

Commoditizing scarce professional services is can be hazardous to the project.  Commissioning firms sell time, integrity and knowledge. As fees are pushed down, the time and seniority of the team move down. You get what you pay for. If you want a high quality outcome you have to hire the best, the “Big Beasts” of the industry.

Related posts:

#43 – This is not OK ( )

# 33 – Commissioning KPI’s ( )

# 39 – Balderdash, Commissioning RFP’s & The Benefits of Clarity ( )

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