IPD Only for Big Dogs?

Posted on June 7, 2010

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Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) arrived on the design / engineering / construction scene to great fanfare because of its balanced approach to design, influence, and common objectives in project activity. In addition, its process- and method-focus on collaboration allows seemingly any group of well-coordinated professionals to study and implement the system for IPD benefits on any project, large or small.

Upon closer examination, integrated project delivery appears to be comprised of two parts: technology and technique. Technology, the ever-improving tools for accomplishing tasks, allows a team to develop technique, or the skills that produce the desired project result. Without technique, industry-leading tools are useless. Without technology, the best methods are limited in their ability to meet team goals.

Technology, like BIM and electronic submittals, costs money but is the price of admission to the IPD arena. This is especially true in complex projects like healthcare. At Haskell, we invest in customized software when out-of-the-box software does not provide value; we believe this differentiates us by helping us be more productive. A good craftsman never blames his tools, but tools that limit ability must be improved.

Technique takes time and team chemistry to develop; this comes with experience, both in project type and familiarity with team members. Watch any team sport—NBA finals, NHL finals, World Cup soccer—and it is hard to beat a team that works together all the time. They know each other’s tendencies, priorities, motivators, strengths, weaknesses and how to communicate, sometimes implicitly. Ideal technique involves learning from master craftsmen, knowledge from mentors, and learning from mistakes. IPD simply does not work with part-time commitment or occasional partners.

Ultimately, the latest software releases and proprietary products are not always necessary, but a team cannot purport to provide the best collaborative building product without a basic toolbox that includes those that facilitate collaboration and information sharing. Investment in IPD technology to do the job well, and in the practice required to develop successful IPD technique, is the cost of keeping the customer satisfied, and thus the cost of doing business.

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