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Client Models

An exploration of key drivers

In 2016 and 2017 detailed interviews were conducted with leaders of a series of major projects and programmes in Australia, Canada, USA, India, Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the UK. These interviews informed a number of reports describing the ways in which different models have been used across the globe.

On the basis of this work five generic client models have been identified which are intended to provide practitioners with a simple, high-level structure for beginning an analysis of their own client models. The models - summarised below - are a useful shorthand tool. This report describes the key decisions and drivers leading project leaders to select one client model above the others.

Five Client Models

Super light client model

  • All functions that can be outsourced are outsourced. Often seen in developing world location.
  • Typical drivers: Time constraints, low in-house capability/immature client, pressures of investors (often international).

Light client model

  • The client retains a greater degree of control than in super light models but the client-side resource base remains very low.
  • Typical drivers: Time constraints, low-moderate in-house capability.

Agile client model

  • Outsourcing is employed to bring in experienced partners. There is however also significant insourcing to supplement client capabilities. As a result agile models feature more client-side resources and a much higher degree of client control of key delivery functions than in the light client models.
  • Typical drivers: Programmes with wide or varying demand for client capability, prioritisation of control of key outcomes, access to deep international supply chains, very long duration.

Expert client model

  • Clients retain control of many delivery functions, including full management of the programme or project. Only the construction delivery function is fully outsourced and even parts of this may be retained.
  • Typical drivers: Cost-certainty, new technology risk.

Expert programme client model

  • Like expert project clients these organisations retain expertise across all or most delivery functions and are also more likely to retain some operation and maintenance functions.
  • Typical drivers: Cost-certainty, changing regulatory demands, control over customer outcomes, rolling programme of projects rather than one-offs.