Commissioning Manager collaborative team work

The Commissioning Manager Will Prove Key to Ever Smarter Developments of the Future

The benefits of a well-managed commissioning process should not be underestimated. The commissioning manager is a vital cog in the team, bringing construction projects to fruition and ensuring that buildings perform at their absolute optimum throughout their life cycle.

The Skills of a Commissioning Manager

At a high level, there are two key skills a commissioning manager must possess:

  1. Commissioning know-how
  2. Ability to manage the commissioning process

Is Management of the Commissioning Process a Dying Art?

It is these management skills that are intrinsically linked to the successful implementation of the commissioning process, however such skills appear to be waning in existence — just when we need them now more than ever.

The need stems from developments in buildings, which are becoming ever more complex in terms of smart technology and a drive to efficient long-term sustainable performance. As a result, commissioning has become more complex and management of the commissioning process has evolved into a vital requirement to make sure all processes are robust in delivering optimum performance.  

Assumptions That Could Stifle Success

The management element requires the commissioning manager to have several key personal attributes and competencies. Typically, Commissioning managers are engineers with experience. In fact, their careers have usually progressed because of their technical performance over multiple projects. The assumption is that, as experienced commissioning engineers, they would automatically make a good commissioning manager. However, this is not always the case.

It is a particular combination of key personal attributes, skills and competencies that directly determines the successful coordination and drive of the commissioning process throughout the site team, from the client to their main contractor, through to specialist subcontractor(s). These management skills range from how the individual communicates, their resilience and what type of leadership skills they possess.

What Are the Required Management Skills of a Commissioning Manager?

I believe the commissioning manager should be a direct, effective, open, and persuasive communicator both orally and in writing. They should have enthusiasm and drive with evidence of a strong client focus, combined with a flexible and resilient attitude. Just as importantly, they should display an achievement orientation with a drive for results and demonstrate leadership qualities and aspirations. This leadership quality needs to be adaptable and the commissioning manager should possess the ability to involve, motivate and gain commitment from others so that the site team are clear on what needs to be done, by whom and within what timescales.

The competencies extend to being able to demonstrate resilience and the ability to work in a pressurised environment while dealing with situations calmly. This is often demonstrated through the mental agility to assimilate information and use this to make effective and considered decisions.   

Underpinning all decisions is their impeccable planning and organisational inner foundation. To be able to identify potential issues early and plan corrective action expertly through teamwork is key. This teamwork approach allows the commissioning manager to fit in with the team, but with minimal supervision. It can also develop effective and supportive relationships with colleagues, while always being considerate towards others, ultimately creating a collective, spirited, commissioning team.

Commissioning managers should be goal focused, meet deadlines and respond to tasks within a given timescale. They must display attention to detail so that all systems, procedures, and paperwork are factual and correctly presented by the whole team. In the built environment their goal focus is constantly challenged through site progress so they must demonstrate an innovative mindset that is comfortable with change. The ability to generate new ideas to add value and overcome these challenges is sometimes needed and, in doing so, must support and implement new ways of doing things. Being open to change and encouraging others to view change positively is vital – that is true teamwork!

The Commissioning Manager is Key to the Smart Developments of the Future

As mentioned above, buildings are getting much smarter in the way they function, interacting with occupants, learning from them, and adapting to their changing needs. Systems now interact with an array of digital/Internet of Things devices — an area that is becoming a greater part of the construction process. The commissioning manager must not only understand these technology drive challenges, but also have the personal attributes and competencies outlined above, to not only manage the commissioning but lead the team to achieve absolute certainty.

We have not forgotten the art of management of the commissioning process. We grow and develop our people into strong and competent commissioning managers through developing their engineering expertise, while also investing in building upon their personal attributes and competencies.