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Increase perceived design quality with collaborative delivery methods

Updated IPD Case Studies capture how project teams deliver integrated projects from broad leadership to the nitty-gritty

By Renee Cheng, AIA and Katy Dale, Assoc. AIA

Architects, Owners, Contractors, and the other team members engaged in collaborative delivery projects profiled in the 2012 IPD Case Studies perceive that collaborative delivery has a positive effect on overall design quality, according to information included in the updated IPD Case Studies released by the AIA in collaboration with AIA Minnesota and the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. Moreover, the report indicates that Owners perceive the effect of collaborative delivery on design quality more positively than any other contract party, characterizing it as extremely positive, positioning integrated practice as an effective selling point. Begun in 2010, the IPD Case Studies combine interviews, primary source materials, and survey data collected from six project teams to document how teams implement integrated project delivery (IPD) strategies. Additionally, material from the 2010 AIA/AIA-CC Case Studies are incorporated in this latest release.

Presented as an easy-to-navigate interactive matrix, the IPD Case Studies allows you, the reader, to understand a project across four major categories and also to dive deeper into a category and compare across multiple projects [Image 2]. The four major categories—Legal and Commercial Strategies, Management Strategies, Social Strategies, and Workplace and Technological Strategies—and their sub strategies were refined in a 2-day workshop led by Renée Cheng (University of Minnesota), Paolo Tombesi (University of Melbourne) and Markku Allison (AIA) to define a framework for creating an integrated and collaborative delivery culture.

Realities of integrated practice

In many areas, the IPD Case Studies confirm anecdotal evidence of IPD’s benefits; in other areas results dispel misconceptions and over-estimations. The IPD Case Studies matrix includes a colorful “National Map of IPD” which maps 73 respondents who self-reported pursuing IPD in 2010 [Image 3]. The map illustrates the adoption of IPD beyond the stereotypical California healthcare facility including geographically diverse projects of all sizes and type. In spite of limitations outlined below, a 2011 survey of teams included in the IPD Case Studies matrix reveals quantitative trend information for practitioners and Owners considering IPD.

Asked to rank how “collaborative project delivery affects project efficiency” on a seven point scale (-3 = negative, 0 = neutral, 3 = positive), all participants recognized the positive effect collaboration has on achieving project efficiency. That engineers’ perception of collaboration’s effect on efficiency was slightly less positively than contractors (1.82 and 2.79 respectively) seems to support anecdotal comments that the engineers struggled most with the transition to highly collaborative environments. When used, Lean tools and principles also positively affected project efficiency and contributed to sharing project information ideas and opinions with team members.

The apparent importance ascribed to co-location and use of facilitators in team building in team interviews did not seem to have as strong an effect in the questionnaires. Co-location and use of facilitators in team building both exhibited a positive effect in perception of effective direct communication, but co-location had neither a positive nor negative effect on indirect communication. Likewise, the use of facilitators in team building did not affect areas such as perception of respect and communication.

Understanding multiparty agreements

In projects with multiparty agreements, strong feelings of mutual trust and respect were reported. However, when asked about particular aspects present in the contracts, like liability waivers, team members demonstrated inconsistent knowledge. This suggests that certain contractual aspects considered essential to integrated practice may be more important only to a select few team members. By contrast, shared risk and reward was far more likely to be understood by participants, suggesting that it was well communicated across the team.

Defined by the AIA as “a method of project delivery distinguished by a contractual arrangement among a minimum of owner, constructor and design professional that aligns business interests of all parties,” true IPD must meet specific contractual terms and behavioral principles. The studies included in the IPD Case Studies may not explicitly be contractual IPD (rather, they may be “IPD-ish”) but most of them exhibit the behavior principles that define integrated practice.

To help sort through the differences, the IPD Case Studies includes a chart titled “Degree of IPD” that is organized around the same major categories as the matrix, but with more specific sub-categories that reflect IPD tactics adapted to real-world practice [Image 4]. Using explicit tactics provides a framework for the research team to use a graphic of a full, hollow or no circle to represent full, partial, or no implementation of that tactic respectively, by the project team.

For more complete survey information, see the survey summary and individual project survey data in the updated IPD Case Studies matrix. The survey summary focuses on five issues clearly affecting practice: 1) IPD contractual principles, 2) use of a Lean construction system, 3) co-location, 4) use of team building facilitators, and 5) collaborative project delivery. Additional articles, podcasts, and integrated project delivery resources are available through the AIA Center for Integrated Practice.

About the survey data

The survey contained 121 possible questions and was electronically distributed to 207 project team members on five teams, with 127 participants responding: Cathedral Hill Hospital (n=64), Lawrence and Schiller Remodel (n=6), SpawGlass Regional Office (n=9), Mercy Medical Center (n=12), and Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Office Modernization (n=36). There are limitations in the data since the difference in size and pace of the projects meant teams were given the questionnaire at different project phases. Despite the high response rate (averaging 50%), the sample population on certain projects was often too small to reliably draw conclusions. The survey was conducted and analyzed with the help of Caren Martin, PhD and Hye-Young Kim, PhD, from the University of Minnesota.


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