The Misconceptions of Integrated Project Delivery
There’s been a lot of talk lately about IPD (Integrated Project Delivery), but with it has come many misconceptions, misunderstandings and miscommunication about what IPD really means.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) defines IPD as “a project delivery method that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to reduce waste and optimize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication and construction.”
The Integrated Project Delivery method contains many specific components, including continuous involvement of the owner and key designers and builders from early design through project completion, an alignment of the business interests of all parties through shared risk/reward, and joint project control by the owner, key designers and builders. As you’d expect, a true IPD model is truly integrated, sharing and spreading responsibilities and rewards among all parties.
As an architecture firm, we are seeing many requests for proposals that request IPD, but also refer to other delivery methods such as design-build, stipulated sum and even P3—all in the same proposal. This indicates to me that our clients are interested in IPD but are unsure exactly what’s involved. This can be troublesome, as a confusing RFP puts not only the contractors and consultants at risk but the project itself.
IPD isn’t a new model—it’s been around in one way or another for many years, though true IPD projects are few and far between. It takes a special client and project team that fully agree to all the terms that an IPD project requires. After talking to many contractors, consultants and even clients, my experience is that most do not fully understand exactly what’s involved in a true IPD contract.
Everyone is willing to improve the construction process, and a modified IPD can be the tool to do so. Many so-called IPD projects are just this: a modified IPD contract that conforms to the ideology of an integrated project. Construction companies, consultants, suppliers and, most importantly, the client all want to be a part of a successful project.
With a little knowledge and a desire to improve how we design and construct buildings we can change the process for the better. We can incorporate aspects of IPD and modify the contract so all parties involved are comfortable and happy with the outcome, and as we do more and more of these IPD-type projects, the parties involved will become more familiar and comfortable with the process and we can introduce more aspects of a true IPD contract.
Currently, at HDR | CEI, we already do many aspects of Integrated Project Delivery simply as good business practices. Educating our clients and the project team are key to a successful IPD project and to making everyone comfortable with the process and the contractual obligations.
People are often confused with the differences between Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Integrated Design Process (IDP). In addition to the contractual obligations of an IPD project, it also includes aspects of the integrated design process. Both require the project team to collaborate together in a specific manner for the benefit of the project and ultimately for the benefit of the project team, ensuring a successful project.
IPD and IDP differ in some key aspects. IDP projects do not require all parties to have a “business interest” to the point of shared risk and reward. Financial gain is not necessarily tied to a successful project outcome. Having all parties involved, including the owner, consultants and construction company, at the onset of a project is beneficial. It facilitates an environment in which all parties agree to share information and ideas, and are willing to compromise and work together. Dialogue between all parties is open and communicative, egos are left at the door and input is expected and appreciated from all levels.
We do many projects using an IDP approach. Any project with careful collaboration between the consultants, client, contractors and suppliers is an IDP project. A client or owner can specify IDP as part of the contractual obligations of participating in a project without the financial risk/reward of a typical IPD project.
However, when specifying that a project will incorporate IDP, the expectations have to be clearly defined early on. A roadmap of how collaboration is to occur and what is to be expected from all parties involved needs to be clearly laid out in advance with sufficient time allocated to collaboration and dialogue.
If you are considering an Integrated Project Delivery model for your next project, be clear to your team exactly what your expectations are, select a team with experience and a willingness to collaborate in a way that benefits the project. Those are the keys to a successful IPD project.