During a recent panel discussion at the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Conference & Trade Show in San Diego, CA, industry professionals shared their thoughts on how construction management will change over the next decade and what owners can expect. The session, titled “What Will 2026 Look Like,” was led by Mark Simon, PE, CCM – Senior Program Manager, Dallas Water Utilities; and Kevin Donnelly, PE, CCM – Deputy Commissioner, Program Management Division – NYC Department of Design & Construction.
Looking 10 years into the future, Simon said owners will be expecting several things from the Construction Manager (CM) including:
- value engineering
- innovative construction methods
- stakeholder leadership/management
- staff augmentation
“What the CM needs to do is take the experience out of other places they have been to,” said Simon. “We don’t necessarily need it done faster, but need it done with more certainty.”
CMs are encouraged to be involved early on in a project to help assist and advise the owner through all phases of project delivery, including the planning, design, and construction process of capital projects. “Anything that the CM can bring to the table during the design or construction phase is a plus,” said Simon.
Donnelly spoke about key industry trends that will drive project delivery for the next 10 years. In addition to earlier engagement by the CM, he said there will be more complexity in both the delivery and construction of a project. Sustainability is expected to be incorporated into the construction process and innovative technology will play a key role.
“Our job as leaders in this industry is to watch the trends, be prepared and look out for what’s coming,” said Donnelly. “I think if we don’t do that, if don’t keep our eyes on the trends, we don’t innovate, we rapidly become irrelevant.”
He talked about the importance of the triple bottom line in terms of financial, social and environmental considerations and the necessity of balancing all three during the lifecycle of a project.
“When anyone gets out of balance, the project starts to go astray and we get a little ahead of ourselves. We need to bring it into perspective,” he said. “We want beautiful buildings that achieve/provide social value but we want to do that responsibly. We do that by managing costs and by looking at the environmental impact.” He also recommended communicating with stakeholders about the value proposition.
In terms of leadership and technology over the next decade, Simon said the owner will increasingly expect a certain knowledge base from the CM. This involves cutting-edge technology in regards to the digital side of things as well as construction methods. “You need a construction manager that has the resources, and utilizes project management tools,” said Simon.
He said there is often a tendency to look at something and say that it should be implemented just because it is cutting edge. However, he stressed the importance of having the CM recognize whether or not it’s beneficial for the project and ensure that something else isn’t being sacrificed. “Frequently, things come up during the process of building something and we’re always looking for a solution to keep the project moving,” said Simon. “Anything that you have within your organization or prior experience is helpful.”
Best Management Processes (BMPs), implemented by most owners, are also important to address in terms of standardization.
The panelists recommended that the CM industry begin to prepare for the transition that will take place over the next decade. Not only will this benefit their organizations, but the way they deliver projects and meet the triple bottom line.
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