What is Integrated Project Delivery?

You’ve probably heard about the latest type of project delivery, Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). As technology continues to evolve, IPD is gaining popularity and being used in more projects than ever before. What’s not so clear is what exactly is IPD and how does it effect traditional workflows?

Integrated Project Delivery is a project delivery method that integrates systems, people, business structures, and practices into a synergistic process which takes advantage of the owner, designer, contractor, and other participants expertise to get the best possible project results. This process is said to reduce waste and maximize efficiency and a highly effective collaboration from the design to the time the project is handed over. Compared to the typical project delivery methods, Integrated Project Delivery has the potential to result in a significant reduction of losses and risk while enhancing productivity and efficiency.

All sounds fantastic in theory right? Sure. But as you would expect with literally anything new in our industry, the opinions on Integrated Project Delivery are quite variable across the industry. We recently posted a Twitter poll where we asked our followers, “What are your thoughts on projects where the design team and construction team share the same model?”. This is directly related to IPD, because from a BIM standpoint, this is the very definition of IPD.

While 50% said they’ve used IPD and would do it again, nearly the other half of users have tried it and won’t do it again or probably won’t try it at all because it sounds like trouble. Let’s look into some of the perks and benefits of IPD that can explained these scattered opinions.

Cloud technology such as Autodesk’s BIM 360 Design (C4R) has enabled teams working in Revit to share the same model and model in real-time. This means no weekly model transfers and no outdated data. Revit is a finicky beast and without this type of cloud technology, most would agree that you would need to be on the same network, or ideally co-located in the same office, to maximize efficiency and mitigate the risk of model corruption.

One technological benefit that IPD offers is increased model transparency within the BIM environment. The mindset of “throwing information over the fence” should be checked at the door, because Integrated Project Delivery calls for all players to share ownership of the model. Yes, this means the design team and the construction team are required to function as a single team.

As you can imagine, frequent communication is required between any the designer and contractor. Weekly meetings are no longer enough. Again, as technology continues to improve,  we are seeing an increasing number of solutions such as Skype For Business and Slack which support the need for constant communication. Even Autodesk has built the Communicator feature which not only allows you to chat within the Revit application, but will also help you monitor synchronizing to the central model.

This open communication brings us to another benefit of IPD; efficiency. Time is no longer wasted while waiting for a response to an RFI. As a result, project milestones can be reached more efficiently.

Not only does the transparent communication of Integrated Project Delivery save time, it actually produces better results overall. We’ve all heard the sayings such as, “teamwork makes the dream work” and the acronym T.E.A.M., “Together We Can Achieve More”. While statements like these are incredibly cliche and even sometimes humorous, they actually hold some great truth. We see this in practice with Integrated Project Delivery. IPD requires shared responsibility and accountability across the design and construction teams, which means construction can start earlier, even while the building is still being designed.

While we all know the many wonderful outcomes teamwork can bring, even a team of the strongest members doesn’t work together seamlessly right off the bat. Effective teamwork mandates a trusting and positive relationship among engineers, owners, contractors, architects and other project members. This can be an uncomfortable transition depending on the personalities of your team members and also brings some liability issues to light. In order for Integrated Project Delivery to be effective, team members need to be flexible and willing to share tasks with other firms and giving up this control can be not only uncomfortable for some personalities, but also impose new risks to both parties.

Although transparency and frequent communication has its benefits, this process also has the potential to make team members feel vulnerable as their modeling standards are completely exposed to external team members.

While Integrated Project Delivery has been around for more than a decade, it is a novel approach for many. Team members across the board may be unfamiliar with IPD and comfortable with the traditional project delivery methods. As a result, these firms may prefer not to take part in a project using Integrated Project Delivery, but typically this is driven by the building owners.

IPD is a relatively new approach for many in our industry. If you’re interested to learn more, join us on our upcoming webinar as we examine a case study of an IPD project currently in construction. We’ll take a deep dive to learn about the challenges in terms of workflow and technology during our interview the general contractor, electrical design engineer, and electrical contractor on next Industry Insights webinar on Wednesday September 26 at 10 am PST. We will be interviewing Amber Young, P.E., A.C., Electrical Engineer at Affiliated Engineers, Inc. (AEI), Cory Clark, CADD/BIM Team Manager at VECA Electric & Technologies, and Lowrey Pugh, former VDC Manager at Lease Crutcher Lewis. We hope you will join us to gain firsthand insight that will help you form, change, or reinforce where you stand on Integrated Project Delivery.

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