How Integrated Project Delivery Supports Successful Construction Management

While most industries have doubled their productivity in the last five decades, construction has dramatically lagged until recently. Now practitioners turn to the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) method, which:

  • creates a continuous workflow and improves the workforce and products and results
  • optimizes project performance using a collaborative, values-based process to ensure high-outcome results for every team member—owner, architect and construction manager/general contractor
  • ensures the larger team works through any potential issues in early project phases, before construction begins, to eliminate possible waste and risk and share the risk and rewards

How IPD disrupts the industry

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’ve likely seen how traditional design-build (DB) methodologies can create an “every man for himself” mentality: Architects and engineers don’t fully engage with contractors and subcontractors and often follow engineering assumptions without being coordinated or validated by the design professionals. Once value engineering or other scope/price reductions occur, the designer often asks for additional fees to rework drawings to reflect the contractor’s input, creating time and cost overruns and potentially more adversarial roles between designers and contractors.

On the other hand, IPD’s “emergent model” means all project parties use jointly developed project targets, open sharing of information and a common purpose, relying on classic principles of lean and continuous improvement:

  • IPD as a philosophy occurs when integrated practices or philosophies are applied to more traditional delivery approaches such as CM-at-Risk, Design-Build or Design-Bid-Build (where the owner is not a party to a multi-party contract). IPD shares information to keep the team on track via wall-mount or digitally shared lean dashboards.
  • Kanban—a method for tracking work in progress—provides physical, wall-mounted boards or an online program so team members can virtually see a project’s status.
  • Breaking down traditional silos means employing a unified system that continuously flows from start to finish, contracting the entire team (the owner (stakeholder) and/or the owner’s representatives, architect (project manager), and construction manager’s representatives) and assigning authority within a design, construction and owner representative core group.
  • IPD and lean principles work together, with IPD applied to the contractual, multi-party agreements and lean principles providing the pathway to achieving results and collaboration. The resulting positive team culture eliminates waste and wasteful activities, ensures the reliability of workflow, clearly schedules work, and ensures and measures all participants’ commitments to the schedule. Simply put, IPD ensures the team specifies value (establishing the value (goal) the project must achieve); charts the value stream (laying out the path to realize value via a logic trail); maintains flow (using the value stream to maintain the logic flow of the project); creates pull (focusing short-term schedule activities on those that "can" be done rather than those that "should" be done): and achieves perfection (measuring the plan and the commitment via the Percent Plan Complete (PPC) method).
  • IPD supports continuous improvement processes via the four stages of the Deming Cycle: (1) Plan (find the cause of a problematic state and create a proposed action to modify or resolve it); (2) Do (carry out a test plan implementation); (3) Check (assess effectiveness of test results), and (4) Adjust (if the results are good, adjust the original state or define a new standard process; if the results are unacceptable, refine the plan and repeat the cycle until you attain satisfactory results).

Complex projects or those with aggressive constraints--like public works and construction—can be a perfect fit for IPD, since they often seek to maximize value. With key participants involved in decisions as early as possible, the knowledge and expertise of all key team members improves decision making—especially in the earliest stages of the project when informed decisions have the most impact—and work is about deliberately and systematically organizing materials, design and labor to maximize the project as a whole, not the discrete pieces of the project. Ultimately, solving problems and learning becomes the job, not just part of the job.

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