Sunday, March 13, 2011

Characteristics of Successful Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Projects

The Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) model requires behaviors, collaboration, and alignment of project incentives and risks at a level rarely seen in traditional project delivery systems.  Integrated Project Delivery is a holistic approach to project delivery that seeks to improve project speed, cost and quality.  Successful IPD projects exhibit a common set of characteristics which can be viewed as guidelines to forming your own project environment.

IPD Project Structure Supports Integration:  The project structure is possibly the single most important component in IPD.  Establishing project participants early on and bringing them together with common goals, incentives and risks is critical.  It requires that the Owner decide who all of the team members are long before the project is designed and bid documents are available, and that project control becomes a shared function.  By introducing transparency in control and decision making the group adopts collaboration and consensus as key behaviors, jointly agreeing on incentive/risk sharing and project targets.  This is not to say that the Owner relinquishes all rights.  The Owner establishes primary project outcomes and deliverables, establishes the budget and schedule.  How these targets are reached, however, becomes a much more “engagement centric” exercise than traditional projects experience.

IPD Contracts Serve as an Alignment Tool:  Traditional project structures and contracts create three distinct and often competing agendas.  When an Owner contracts separately with design professionals and Contractors the Owner assumes the responsibility and risk of coordinating project requirements and aligning entities that may be “working toward one common goal.”  At least that’s what we all say.  Reality, however, often suggests a different type of alignment, one in which three separate project teams each have their own set of requirements and definitions of a successful project.  Integrated Project Delivery contracts bring the Owner, Architect and Contractor together in one arrangement with one set of project definitions and goals.  This results in Sub-Consultants and Sub-Contractors also having the same outcomes in mind, as opposed to traditional models where they have more proprietary interests at heart.

Project Participant Mindsets Are Focused on Common Goals:  The transparency required of successful IPD projects engenders increasing trust and collaboration.  It is through these two channels that some of the most rewarding changes come.  Instead of compromising to protect their particular interests in a project all participants must adopt the common (project’s) good as their goal.  While the financial incentive of the shared reward pool is certainly a motivator, the importance and benefits of working together in close collaboration should not be under-valued in this sense.

Synergies Enhance Collaboration and Outcomes:  Technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and protocols like Lean Design and Construction are perfect bedfellows with IPD.  They accelerate projects while minimizing risk and improving quality.   It is no accident that most IPD projects are fast-tracked.  These tools and strategies are designed to do exactly that.  Greater visibility of design evolution and increased constructability input from the earliest stages contributes to early identification of design conflicts or other issues.  Lean Construction accepts time sensitive inputs and prioritizes design and decision making.

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