Joint venture partnerships (JVPs) have become increasingly popular to execute projects in a recessionary environment. Firms can pool resources, complement strengths, and share best practices to win new business that otherwise would not have been possible.
A joint venture is a contractual business undertaking between two or more parties. In the AEC industry, a joint venture ‘often’ involves the creation of a new business entity, but does not have to.
At LoadSpring we have helped many joint ventures including two recent and ongoing complex projects—a large urban transportation system in the U.K. and a bridge reconstruction in the U.S.—and can share our insight into the four types of IT challenges that typically face a joint venture.
Different organizational cultures manifest themselves in differing IT policies as well. Standards on data management, access devices, and support are not uniform across different organizations but must be within a JVP. Often, the most stringent compliance items in a project request for proposal (RFP) document are in the area of IT governance.
Uniformity should not be confused with harmonizing two different sets of IT standards prevailing in the partner organizations. Often, it is faster, and more effective to start from a clean slate, especially when addressing project-specific requirements that have been handed down by the project owner.
The security challenge plays itself out across a broad spectrum. For example, user access, where users have to acclimatize to different protocols and data security, which impacts IT from a process and a systems standpoint. These challenges are magnified if the partners are from different industries or geographies.
Ensuring everyone in the joint venture— from “new” employees to contractors, is working behind the same firewall, even during transition, is a fundamental best practice.
IT support on large projects where the nature of the systems and workgroups being supported can change substantially over time is another challenge. Not only are there typically a range of devices to support but also varying service level agreements (SLAs) that the individual partners are locked into at the time of purchase of a system.
Support teams need to be managed as a separate cost center considering the pressure on already stretched IT budgets. Control of maintenance and upgrade schedules is another activity that must be unified as a downtime in one partner organization may impact the other partner.
There can be tremendous pressure on adopting the legacy IT of one of the joint venture partners from a cost standpoint. However, that neglects factoring in the cost of deploying this IT at new locations, the cost of training, as well as the suitability of the legacy systems for the project at hand.
Avoiding a large capital expenditure upfront, investing in architecture that can scale and extend on-demand, and tying up vendors to pay-as-you-go deals are important things to focus on from the cost standpoint.
This task is made easier with a cloud based IT infrastructure, like the one that the LoadSpring Platform offers for program management applications. With LoadSpring Platform the project costs can be easily aligned to the new project and support for all users and the new infrastructure is provided by LoadSpring. Most important, security processes are already in place because of the LoadSpring Platform Portal technology and, even better, they are outside the partner’s specific systems.