Understanding the building team

Jun 22, 2009

This week’s focus is all about the new industry buzz term, “IPD.” For those who don’t know, IPD stands for “integrated project delivery.” You might wonder what that means (as I did the first time I heard it). It’s not design/build, tho I guess it could be. It’s not all about full-service from one source, tho it could be. I was told it is all about having a close-knit team, consisting of the owner, A/E, and contractor, who work together to deliver the best project. I don’t think that’s anything different from what we have all been trying to do all along. In fact, my suspicion is that the term, IPD, is really being driven more by the software providers who have products and services that improve the quality of communication between all team members more so than anyone else. That said, there’s not a darn thing wrong with trying to create a close-knit team of owner, A/E, and contractor who are all working in harmony to deliver the best end result. I don’t think that happens by accident. I do think that the success of the project— be that success be measured in terms of budget, schedule, or “best” end result, is all directly related to how well competent team members work together. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that enhance the probability of this “team” success (and resulting project success). Familiarity with each other. The more the organizations and individuals have worked together, the greater the odds of success. Desire to get along and work as a part of a team vs. need to dominate. Some organizations have a need to dominate relationships whereas others are happy to be team members. Perhaps this culture springs from the founders or principals? The important thing is that IF you want a cohesive, low-conflict team, stay away from organizations who must dominate all relationships. That includes clients who operate this way! Clear understanding of what the real goals and expectations are for the project. This takes an effort from all parties involved. Clients have to be forthright and able to reconcile different priorities emerging from inside their organizations. And A/Es and contractors have to be competent in extracting these wants and needs from clients and guiding them down the best path most likely to give them what they want in the end from the project. Mutual respect and trust. This is always crucial. If any team member feels that other members are dishonest or have selfish motivations that cloud their judgment then there will be problems with the project. There has to be trust and respect between the organizations and the people who make them up. Desire to see everyone be successful, not just yourself. See point No. 2. You will never have truly integrated project delivery if any team member feels all that matters is the success of their own organization in the end. While there doesn’t seem to be a lot new in the core tenets of IPD, there are many benefits that can come from putting the right owner and building team together in the first place. Unfortunately, desperation on the part of A/Es and contractors will undoubtedly result in more bad teaming relationships with each other and clients than we’d see in a hot market. Keep your heads cool and think long term about what kinds of teammates are likely to enhance your long-term success. Originally published 6/22/2009

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