One of the more general misconceptions about integrated
project delivery is the assumption that IPD is just an expanded version of the
design-build concept. While design-build principles may be closely aligned with
the fundamentals of IPD, the latter actually pitches a larger tent;
design-build simply shares space under that tent.
Construction industry sources point out that
design-build procurement and management methods can differentiate among
projects and may or may not include the owner to varying degrees. If
design-build moves more toward a procurement process or a project management
that does not include the owner, it also begins to move away from the
fundamental principles of IPD. Conversely, when design-build is used according
to its best practices, it also aligns with the best practices of IPD. This is
where the two concepts are sometimes inadvertently considered synonymous.
In its 2007 report Integrated Project Delivery—A Working Definition, the Integrated
Project Delivery Task Force released its now widely accepted statement: IPD is
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.
The IPD Task Force, an interdisciplinary group
sponsored by McGraw-Hill Construction and the American Institute of Architects/California Council,
notes that within the ideal IPD and design-build models, the owner, designers,
and builders work jointly from a
project’s inception to mutually establish the performance, budget, and
schedule within the constraints of the owner’s business model. Moreover, IPD
principles can also be applied to a variety of contractual arrangements, with
project teams including members beyond the basic triad of owner,
engineer/architect, and contractor—all aimed at a life-cycle approach toward
As part of its core definition, IPD is a “deeply
collaborative process that uses best available technologies, but it goes beyond
merely the application of digital tools, such as building information modeling (BIM),”
the task force report notes. Unless all parties are committed to a set of
essential principles, integrated practice will not succeed, the task force
emphasizes. These principles include mutual respect, mutual benefit, early goal
definition, enhanced communication, clearly defined standards, appropriate
technology, and high performance.
To some, those principles may sound reflective of
the construction partnering process. However, the AIA/California Council
contends that partnering is purely aspirational,
with project stakeholders signing a nonbinding agreement that supports joint
and open interaction. “Partnering does not, however, change the basic contract
and liability relationships, nor does it create incentives and consequences
that flow from achieving or ignoring the collaborative goals,” the council
In contrast, IPD is a value-driven process, where
project goals are reinforced through shared risk (appropriate liability
allocation) and reward based on the best interests of the project as a whole
rather than individual performance.
Noteworthy, too, the council says that acceptance of
IPD’s essential principles does not necessarily guarantee project success.
“Although integrated projects can proceed using various business models, some
approaches are better suited to an integrated project than others,” according
to the IPD Task Force, which represents the interests of architects, engineers,
contractors, subcontractors, owners, and attorneys.
For instance, under the more traditional
design-bid-build approach, key participants cannot be identified until bids are
received—too late to meaningfully participate in developing the integrated
design, resulting in a likely failure to achieve the efficiency and performance
benefits of an integrated process, the task force points out. For this reason,
progressive design-build delivery methods have the potential to be more
consistent with the integrated approach.
If a business model is a good fit for IPD, there are
eight primary sequential phases that comprise the integrated approach, the task
(traditionally known as pre-design): the beginning of determining what is to be
Design (traditionally known as schematic design): where
the project begins to take shape;
Design (traditionally known as design development):
concludes the what-is-being-created phase of the project;
Documents (traditionally known as construction documents):
where the focus shifts from what is
being created to documenting how it
will be implemented;
Review: use of digital technologies such as BIM, early
involvement, and validation by agencies to shorten the final permitting process;
complete buyout of remaining contracts;
where the benefits of the integrated model are realized; and
delivery of an intelligent 3-D model to the project owner.
For construction organizations considering an IPD
approach, proponents recommend business models that promote early involvement
of key participants; equitably balance risk and reward; have compensation
structures that reward best-for-project behavior or provide incentives related
to project success; clearly define responsibilities without discouraging open
communication and risk taking; and implement management and control structures
built around team decision-making.
What has been your experience with the
IPD approach? Please send any feedback or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.