Alliancing as mentioned in previous blogs is becoming an increasingly popular procurement model chosen to deliver challenging projects or programme of works or services.  Part of the Alliance Model and some other procurement models is the embedding of client organisation/s personnel in to the alliance team which brings many benefits to the project in terms of knowledge, history, technical expertise and resourcing support.  This is important as this leverages the benefits of the Alliance model and the subsequent outcomes back in to client organisations.

However, for this to occur, the client organisation needs to adequately resource up their team in to the Alliance which is called the Owner Interface Manager (OIM) or the OIM team.  This is challenging for clients who are not experienced with Alliancing or perhaps underestimate the level of resourcing required from the client to make sure the Alliance is successful.  This blog looks to assist clients in this area as well as Alliances in understanding the role, purpose, value add and lessons learnt in resourcing up the OIM role in an Alliance environment.

So, what role does the OIM undertake in an Alliance?  The OIM team in an alliance is responsible for achieving an effective interface between the Alliance and their owner organisation, represent the client interest on the Alliance as well as also being part of the Alliance team.  They essentially wear “two hats” which is the first role they play with being a part of the Alliance team and the other role where they are representing the interests of the client.  This can be challenging unless the OIM team are very clear on their purpose, where they add value and where they don’t.  The summary below works through what this looks like in more detail.

The purpose of the OIM role is as follows:

  • They are delegated to direct changes under the Project Alliance Agreement (PAA);
  • To be part of the decision making during the IPAA and PAA phase;
  • To be a single point of contact for the internal stakeholders within the client organisation which includes being an effective interface from a governance and Subject Matter Expert (SME)/technical expert perspective;
  • To provide a greater knowledge of wider issues and deeper understanding of the implications for the client organisation to the Alliance;
  • To be the champion for the project dealing with client decision making bodies including internal governance, board and other governance activities;
  • To protect the client’s long term and short-term interests including quality, durability, whole of life aspects of the product and budget and programme;
  • To develop trust between the client and the Alliance as well as within the OIM team;
  • To influence best for project outcomes whilst being consistent with the client’s strategic objectives;
  • To confirm and align on the technical requirements, minimum requirements and scope for the project or programme of works or services;
  • They are normally the owner of the client risk management strategy linked to the project or programmes risk management strategy;
  • They normally manage the functions of the Independent Estimator (IE) and the Financial Auditor of the Alliance; and
  • They ensure the Key Result Areas (KRAs) for the Alliance are reviewed regularly to challenge high performance.

The value of the OIM role in an Alliance and to the Alliance partners and client organisations is:

  • The ability to influence the achievement of the client and the project objectives from within the Alliance;
  • The ability to demonstrate visible leadership to non-owner participants of the Alliance, supply chain partners and suppliers;
  • To ensure consistent messaging from the client growing supplier confidence in ensuring there is one source of the truth;
  • Transparency and visibility of non-owner participant issues by being able to deal with these issues quickly by flagging, escalating and resolving before the issue impacts the Alliance;
  • Being a part of project decision making (embedded in alliances) influencing exceptional outcomes for the client which often includes being a member of the Alliance Management Team (AMT) as well as regularly attending project board meetings;
  • Increasing the speed of decision making through internal understanding and influence by simplifying communication channels to reduce mixed messaging to the Alliance provide more efficient project delivery;
  • Being a single point of contact for suppliers and non-owner participants preventing churn;
  • Providing a sounding board to the Alliance for client issues and interpretation of what is important to the client;
  • Providing consistency of knowledge from tender stage, Interim Project Alliance Agreement (IPAA) stage through PAA delivery and beyond;
  • Providing staff within the client organisation with greater learning opportunities, increased delegated responsibility and an opportunity to build relationships with suppliers and stakeholders;
  • To ensure technical requirements and minimum standards are being met by the Alliance;
  • Being able to work collaboratively with non-owner participants and suppliers to ensure best for project outcomes; and
  • Being able to gain trust = speed = efficiency in making sure we leverage the benefits of the Alliance procurement model.

To be able to realise the benefits of the OIM role on an Alliance, it is important to learn lessons from previous Alliances.  Based on my experiences working on Alliances as an Alliance coach with OIM teams, a summary of key lessons learnt is as follows:

What has worked well?

  • OIM team having presence on the Alliance and being actively involved in all areas;
  • Being embedded in the Alliance team which means being co-located and being seen as an extension of the one team Alliance approach;
  • The supply chain value it when the Alliance Manager and the Project Alliance Board (PAB) actively lead/supports the role;
  • When the OIM team provide direct access to client SME’s/technical experts to share critical information and opinion to assist the Alliance deliver more effective outcomes;
  • Having an interface with key stakeholders where the client can have a significant influence or has a history/background with them that would benefit the Alliance;
  • Where the OIM team is utilised as one point of contact from within the client in reference to day-to-day project matters in ensuring there is one source of the truth; and
  • When the OIM role is a regular PAB Agenda Item to ensure that they Board is effectively engaged with the OIM in understanding the key client challenges and is gaining regular feedback from the client on how the Alliance is performing.

What doesn’t work well?

  • Lack of embedding and integration in to the Alliance of the OIM role;
  • Lack of understanding the role internally and within Alliance which includes a lack of role clarity of the OIM team and the SME/technical experts;
  • Value of the role not being effectively communicated to the Client / Alliance;
  • Confusion around additional client roles being seconded in to the Alliance and the OIM role when not selected by the Alliance as a whole;
  • Lack of role clarity between the OIM team and client governance / PAB and Alliance Manager.  This leads to potential confusion around the role and the value of the OIM role within the Alliance; and
  • Perceived lack of support and resourcing from client senior management in understanding the role, time commitment and importance to the client and the Alliance of the role.

The OIM role is a challenging role for client personnel to walk in to.  The OIM team needs sufficient support and training to set them up for success.

The team at BRS can provide OIM 101 training for OIM teams which can be undertaken face to face or virtually as well as providing support for the set-up of role clarity matrices, position description and other activities to assist your teams.  More information on this training can be found at Commercial Acumen Training for Owners | BRS.