Tips for selecting a construction partner

May 23, 2022
For pharma, picking the right partner can have an enormous impact on project outcomes

The pharmaceutical industry is experiencing significant growth, with an anticipated 10-15% increase per year, over the next three years. As one could expect, this growth impacts every level of the industry including research and development, testing and manufacturing for both drug developers and CDMOs.

While some pharma companies are looking to accommodate demand surges by building new facilities, considering the current supply chain challenges, retrofitting underutilized spaces is an attractive option for companies wanting to overcome many of the materials and equipment lead time roadblocks faced when developing a core and shell.

Whether you’re building a new manufacturing facility or retrofitting an existing space, choosing the right construction partner will help ensure the project’s success. While online searches and word-of-mouth recommendations can be helpful, the process of finding the best group to achieve your objectives involves knowing the right questions to ask.

Here are some tips for selecting the construction partner for your next project.

The preparation

The most important and often most overlooked first step is formalizing goals and priorities for the project. This needs to be done before developing a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quote (RFQ). Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this project?” and “Is there a greater mission to what we need to accomplish?” If you can define the purpose of the project and how it fits your mission, you will know the quality of the partner you need to hire.

Determine if qualitative or quantitative outcomes are more important. This will help you consider the best contract delivery method you’ll need from the construction company. Various contract delivery methods are available, so choosing the best approach varies by project. The decision needs to be based on budget, schedule, project complexity, safety measures and project goals.

When developing the RFP/RFQ, reach out to a construction manager you trust to gather key points and considerations that should be included in the document.

The interview

A compelling RFP/RFQ attracts construction firms with high standards that should be more than capable of meeting your requirements. Once it’s time to meet the proposed teams, start by providing as much detail on your project as possible, and remember to communicate the mission behind what needs to be accomplished.

Responses in an RFP/RFQ tell you about the company and team on paper. The intent of these interviews is to get to know the people: during the presentation and discussion, are they genuine not only in their experience and commitment to the project but also to your purpose for building it?

Focus points in the interview should center around safety metrics, building materials and equipment. If the project involves retrofitting, clarify if the team can work around your existing operations without causing setbacks.

Lastly, communication is key to the success of a construction project. Look for a contractor willing to listen to your vision and show excitement about your goals. Emphasize transparency and learn as much as you can about their communication processes, i.e., How do they share updates? How do they mitigate for or, when needed, address issues? What is their budget process?

The selection

Construction companies and their employees should value their reputation and treat each project as a long-term relationship. That’s why price shouldn’t be the only reason you choose a construction company; rarely is it the best answer for the long term. Make your decision based on the value they can add to your project and their plans for partnering with you to achieve your goals.

Construction projects are complex, demanding and highly technical. But there’s also an understanding of the rules, regulations and real-life experiences for all involved. This includes standards and codes that are unique to the pharma industry. It’s also about understanding the needs of all stakeholders and end-users.

Selecting the right partner has an enormous impact on the outcome of projects. Taking time to follow these steps will help you have confidence in your decision and protect the quality of your project.

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About the Author

Tom Hart | Operations Vice President, Science & Technology Market Leader, Messer Construction Co.