Taking a Closer Look at Integrated Project Delivery

If you’re an architect or general contractor, you have probably experienced the many challenges of collaborating with the other team in your projects. With traditional project delivery methods like design-bid-build, or even design-build, the phases of the projects are segmented in a way that does not accommodate integrated collaboration. In design-bid-build delivery, the architects, contractors, and owners are segmented into silos at different stages of the project. With the gap in communication between the parties, the issues of delayed deliveries, wasted budget, pointing fingers, and countless RFIs become all too familiar. These issues in traditional delivery methods have become accepted as the norm. However, there is another answer. Over the past few years, the AIA and AGC have made efforts to create guidelines and standards to shift the industry toward an approach called Integrated Project Delivery.

What is Integrated Project Delivery?

The concept of integrated project delivery was trademarked in 2000 and sponsored by the AIA in 2007. Since then, this relatively new approach has gained traction from many AEC firms such as The Boldt Company and Skanska.

The AIA’s Integrated Project Delivery guide defines IPD as “a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.” A main distinguishing factor that sets IPD from traditional methods is that IPD’s collaborative environment is started from the earliest stages of the project. With earlier collaboration and efficient planning, the team will have better alignment, reduced operational costs and delays, and better on-time delivery.

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Obstacles for Newcomers to IPD

Of course, this approach sounds great in theory; so why is it so challenging to implement IPD? The biggest obstacle in implementing this approach is having the IPD team fully embrace and understand the integrated project delivery approach, according to a survey promoted by the AGC and performed by the University of Minnesota. This study collected responses from 108 architects, general contractors, and owners who have been testing the use of IPD. The results displayed a strong support for IPD as a superior delivery method; however, the issue of unwillingness to change from traditional project delivery methods was a big challenge for newcomers.

Successfully Implementing IPD

Traditional vs. Integrated Project Delivery
IPD workflow demonstrating earlier involvement of stakeholders and shorter stages via AIA California Council 2007

Joint Venture Contract
For a successful IPD, all stakeholders must be fully invested in the project. To ensure their commitment to the project  “the architect, client, and contractor sign a joint contract or form a joint venture at the very start of the design process and the three agree to share risks and responsibilities between them”, according to Jack Balderrama Morley at Architizer. With everyone equally sharing the responsibility, there is more incentive to leverage each other’s knowledge, skills and networks to complete the project within budget and on time.

Importance of BIM in IPD
While effective communication and early planning is an essential part of the collaboration process, utilizing available tools and technology to collaborate is just as important. Building information modeling (BIM) in the IPD approach, according to The Balance, will provide “reliable information, reducing the need for RFI’s, change orders and reducing the rework in the construction area.” BIM collaboration tools like the BIM 360 platform and Collaboration for Revit enable general contractors and architects to collaborate on another level through the cloud and in real-time. Gone are the days of struggling to get a hold of the most up-to-date document and making sure it is accurate.

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According to the AIA, the construction industry is the only industry in the United States to have been “decreasing in productivity since 1964”. The need for a shift in project delivery method is long overdue. Although IPD is a relatively new project delivery approach, it may offer the type of collaborative and integrated workflow environment that is necessary for a more productive construction industry.

More Resources

Integrated Project Delivery: A Win-Win Project Approach, The Balance
Integrated Project Delivery: A Guide, AIA California Council
Integrated Project Delivery – A Working Definition, AIA California Council
IPD: Performance, Expectations, and Future Use, University of Minnesota, AGC
Young Architect Guide: What Is Integrated Project Delivery?, Architizer
Integrated project delivery: A ‘new way of thinking’ with potential to revamp the construction industry?, Construction Dive
Integrated Project Delivery Collaborative: Our History

Is your firm considering integrated project delivery on your next project? Are you currently using IPD on your projects? What tips do you have for newcomers?

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