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Riddle Me This…… Who Employes The Cx Firm?

Riddle me this…… who employes the Cx firm?

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 114) – All IMHO:

Riddle me this, who employs the commissioning firm? Sounds like an easy question?

I was on an international project when the developer asked this and the design and construction team could not answer. Eye contact went everywhere and answers ranged from not sure to not me. When I asked what type of commissioning service was required the mumbling went to a new level. 

On international projects, culture, national pride and different standards apply. IMHO, culture clash is the largest generator of problems and dealing with it requires leadership and clarity. 

To answer the question, another question has to be answered. What type of commissioning service is required? Based on a traditional design, bid, build, commission, handover project, the following definitions apply:

Commissioning Authority (CxA)
An entity or person employed by the owner and certified by a recognised, independent organization who plans, leads and coordinates the commissioning team to implement the commissioning process. Normally an independent 3rd party specialist. 

Commissioning Validation (CxV)
An competent entity or person employed to validate i.e. verify, performance of building systems and equipment. Validation can be a combination of witnessing and actual 3rd party testing. Normally an independent 3rd party specialist. 

Commissioning Management (CxM)
A team or person responsible for the planning, organization, co-ordination and control of commissioning activities. A onetime event relating to new construction or new installation. Normally an independent 3rd party specialist. 
Commissioning & Testing (CxT)
An competent entity or person employed to undertake actual testing of systems in accordance with specified requirements. Normally a specialist firm. 
Commissioning (Cx)
Advancement of a system from a state of static completion to full dynamic operation in accordance with specified requirements. A onetime event relating to new construction or new installation.

Measurement and recording of system parameters to assess specification compliance.

To enter into contract with a commissioning firm a choice has to be made about which commissioning service is required, is it;

  1. CxA
  2. CxV
  3. CxM
  4. CxT

When the appropriate choice is made the contractural relationship becomes clear IMHO. In the table below, options for commissioning contractural relationships and lines of communication are detailed. 

Note: “CxA CxM CxV CxT Contractural Relationship Chart”  diagram can be downloaded in PDF at 

I am not sure why commissioning generates so much confusion. Maybe because the commissioning specialists wield “soft power” via their proximity to the owner/client and their specialist technical knowledge? It has to be said, some handle this “soft power” better than others. 

IMHO, the answer to confusion about commissioning is to always be on a mission to continually explain what commissioning actually is and demonstrate the benefits of commissioning outcomes i.e. buildings that actually work!

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

Related posts & links:

#62 – 5 Rules of Commissioning Management ( )

#55 – P3 – Who’s Who in the Cx Zoo ( )

#34 – Commissioning Management – A Project Management Derivative? ( )

#95 – What is Commissioning? ( )

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