Today single-source solutions don’t simply apply to design-build firms. More and more construction management (CM) firms are looking to expand their services to be that sole provider of building services. Here are two examples of CM firms anxious to offer professional services from the building program phase to operation and maintenance of the end product.

In-House Instincts

CM firm #1 is one of the top companies in the country that competes in the healthcare, institutional, commercial, and industrial building arena. Recently we were assigned by an owner to work with this company on a major central utility plant. Our role was to provide independent commissioning and their role was to oversee the entire construction project. We had not worked with this CM firm before, but I knew of them in the building industry.

At our commissioning kickoff meeting, I was introduced to the CM project manager and their director of commissioning. Looking at their business cards, I noticed that the cards indicated construction management, facility management, and project delivery services. In quizzing this director, I wasn’t sure whether he actually had a commissioning staff in-house or if the company contracted this service out to an independent firm such as ours.

More importantly, I noted that his title was director of commissioning. This alone made a statement that the company was committed to commissioning, and that the firm was backing up this commitment by investing in the necessary professional(s) to provide this service to their customers.

In this initial discussion, I asked these two individuals what their company’s role was in providing facility management services. The response was that their company could provide the necessary support staff to operate and maintain the building after it has been built or renovated. You could say a “cradle-to-grave” approach for the building industry. I have known other CM firms that have selectively tried to provide this service after-construction with limited success. At the same time, the approach can have merit for building owners who want to outsource their facility support services.

The third line item on the CM business card was project delivery service, which is simply another name for design-build. This particular company recognized that this single-source business approach was its ultimate goal when sold to a customer. Positioning themselves to be capable of providing the resources for programming requirements, design team requirements, preconstruction and construction services, and commissioning and facility management services, this company was soliciting a single-source solution.

Playing the Field

With all these resources under one roof, or at least the management of these services under one roof, the company could control the entire building program for their client. On the other hand, CM firm #2 sees its single-source solution through partnering.

In its business plan, it does not see themselves as having all the answers under one roof. Instead, CM firm #2 has made a business decision to seek out the best partners for programming, design, pre-construction, and construction and facility support services. It is this particular company’s opinion that each client has special needs, goals, and/or corporate culture.

For many, there are already prequalified professionals who provide ongoing business with their client, whether it is a healthcare complex or building developer. CM firm #2 listens to its customer and tries to align itself with the ultimate team for the building application. They do not proclaim themselves to be “all thing to all clients.” If post-construction services are needed, this CM firm will seek out the correct solution for their client.

CM firm #2 approaches the single-source solution as one-stop shopping, but not necessarily with the same business partners each and every time. They also don’t claim to have all these services under one roof. As design-build continues to grow and become the method of choice, look for CM firms to be in the forefront of this single-source solution.