Early participation and communication are key to IPD success

By Mike Zorich 

Integrated project delivery (IPD) can be effective in a variety of markets and building types. Done right, this approach guides the actions of participants for the betterment of the whole as opposed to individual parties.  

I’ve worked on several IPD projects and have found that the framework for success depends on with three key criteria: owner participation, early participation of key contractors, and open communication. 

Owner participation: The most successful project will have an owner representative who helps maintain project/facility culture and communicates project goals vertically though the different teams of the IPD process – e.g., the Owner Steering Committee, Executive Team, Core Team, and IPD Team. This individual has the capability and authority to make decisions for the owner at multiple levels. He or she also knows when an owner committee must be engaged to facilitate a decision and has the authority to convene the appropriate group to reach a resolution. Often the most successful person for this role is a core team individual, who communicates with their supervisor (at the strategy/planning/executive level) but also has enough field/construction experience to understand how buildings and systems are put together – and displays true leadership in the process. 

Early participation of key contractors: We have found early participation of the mechanical, electrical, fire protection, steel fabricator, and sometimes other contractors to be highly beneficial. In one of our IPD projects, IMEG met with the subcontractors before schematic design to edit the project specifications, tailoring the information to incorporate the best practices and value for the contractor installation, as well as identifying the Basis of Design for every piece of equipment. That Basis of Design was a joint decision of the contractors and IMEG, while still allowing competitive component pricing at the time of procurement. Contractors and fabricators also help in the value-based decisionmaking for alternative system and component types. In addition, ongoing constructability evaluation and opportunities for off-site pre-fabrication can be identified and the design optimized to accomplish a lower installation cost of all components. 

Open communication: In the IPD process, it is important to allow the team members to be able to say “no.”  It is then up to the team to determine how the team works to accomplish the task or to rework the plan to change the team member’s “no” into a “yes. The goal of the team is to identify why that member is taking the stancereferred to as a constraint. Usually, identifying the constraint of one team member will lead to identifying the constraint of another team member, and so on. This process helps identify how important their component of the work is to all the other downstream activities and leads to improved collaboration. Once the root source is identified, the initial constraint and other related constraints should sequentially be resolved. Empowering the Core IPD team to identify problems, propose continuous improvements, and make decisions to implement solutions inspires all project participants to perform at a high level. 

Read this C-SE magazine case study that I co-wrote for an example of how IPD resulted in waste elimination and cost savings on a recent healthcare project. 

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