Reduce the Risks of Construction-Management-At-Risk

July 5, 2018

Construction-Management-At-Risk (CMAR) is the fastest growing method of handling construction projects in the market today. The number of CMAR projects done in the U.S. grew by a full 10% over the last year – the biggest jump of any form of project management type out there. Now, before you think that 10% growth isn’t that substantial, let’s look at the growth in CMAR over the last few years. From 2011 thru 2017, this method of managing construction jobs has grown 89.4% *- how’s that for substantial?


So, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, CMAR is a process of managing construction projects where the owner, architect, and the construction manager all work together as partners from initial design kickoff. That means the architect and the CM usually start work on the job at the same time. It gives everyone the opportunity to give input into the design process, control budgets and optimize value across the boards. The “At Risk” term added to the end of this style, refers to the fact that the CMAR usually presents a “Guaranteed Maximum Price” (GMP) to the owner at some point in the design process. That’s usually at a specific milestone, such as the 60% review. The idea is by that point, they have done enough estimating, and had enough input into the project design that they can provide the owner with a solid “not to exceed” budget. This collaborative process is rapidly overtaking the traditional Design-Bid-Build process because it dramatically reduces RFI’s, contract disputes and cost over-run on the job.


It’s a brilliant concept and, when done correctly, it benefits all parties involved immensely. The key to any successful CMAR project lies in two components: collaboration and estimating capability. The need for all parties to have full-time access to the latest design, estimate, and contract files at all times is vital in this type of workflow. Here at ZenTek, we work regularly as a consultant to our AEC clients to help them develop the best process for securely, and simply, sharing the immense amounts of data required on construction projects across all stakeholders in a CMAR project. We regularly use MS SharePoint, OneDrive for Business and Bluebeam Studio to help clients keep a centralized sharing portal for the documentation needed on this type of job. The other function that’s vital to CMAR is solid technical estimating software and functionality. The Construction Manager will need to continuously update and revise cost projections throughout the design lifecycle for a CMAR job to work. That type of continuous updating is next to impossible if you’re using manual estimating procedures. With most of our CM clients, we use PlanSwift and Bluebeam Revu (usually a combination of both tools) to give them the ability to handle regular updates and changes with minimal effort and cost.


If you’re looking at moving to CMAR, or if you’ve started out on that path already, you need to make sure your staff has the tools they need in place, and training on how to use them, before they begin work, or the benefits you are looking for are going to slip right through your fingers. Why not reach out to ZenTek? We can talk about how we can help you get your CMAR program running like a dream!


* “The Top At-Risk Construction Managers and Design-Builders”, Engineering News Record, 2018,

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