Collaboration is not a revolutionary concept. A Grimm’s fairy tale describing villagers working together to produce a delicious stone soup has been teaching children the concept for centuries. Engineering solutions provider Boulting, understands the importance of collaboration and that it needs to be at the heart of every project, if it is to be successful. Here, Brian Donaldson, group business development authority at Boulting, explains the benefits integrated project delivery (IPD) and the collaborative culture it produces, can bring to engineering projects.
In recent years, traditional ways of delivering engineering projects have become less common. Instead of contractors working separately on a particular area, new, collaborative methods such as integrated project delivery are increasing in popularity.
Integrated project delivery is a collaborative alliance which aims to integrate the best aspects of people, systems, business structures and practices to optimise the results of a project.
Each collaborators interests, objectives and practices can be aligned by using the team based approach. Using this method every individual, team or business will become equally invested, sharing risk and profit in a fair and transparent manner.
The use of an integrated project delivery system means the client is also part of the team. They can ensure profit margins are determined at an early stage and understand the role and current job status of every person and company working on the project.
Target costs are often set when the project is being managed with IPD. A target cost is a realistic budget decided by everybody involved, which can take into account changes and challenges.
For the client, this often means a smoother, coherent experience. The process encourages correct behaviours and communication. The investment each contractor has in the overall project means it is delivered to meet both the business objective and the intended budget.
As every member of the project delivery group takes shared responsibility for the job, risk is also shared proportionately. Alongside transparency this means contractors, engineers and designers don’t need to worry about external services being in place on time, or about any necessary changes reducing their profit.
The culture produced by the proportional splitting of risk is one of the crucial reasons for IPD’s success. It brings about a communal atmosphere, which makes every member of the team feel secure. Instead of worrying about their individual roles and responsibilities, their primary concern becomes how to make the project the best it can be.
Where possible, the atmosphere can be enhanced by the use of communal office spaces. This is a popular option for many large projects as it can improve communication between teams, providing the perfect structure for collaboration.
When space restrictions don’t allow for the ideal situation of shared office space, another option is to provide a common space which everybody can meet in, even if they don’t work from there day to day.
Transparency can ensure the project runs smoothly and reduces the risk of going over budget. The resulting increased sense of security means every part of the project delivery group can focus on their specialism.
By giving each contractor the freedom to explore the project, they can use their specialist expertise to ensure their section of the overall project meets client expectations.
Due to IPD’s possibilities for teamwork and communal atmosphere, these specialists can also continually consult with others working on the project, ensuring each contractor is working together to maximise the potential and value of the project. In addition to this, collaboration allows for necessary changes to be made without negatively impacting other contractors.
Transparency is a major benefit of integrated project delivery. It produces a sense of security as the involved parties have access to all information concerning the job, from equipment costs, right through to budgeting.
In addition to encouraging a pleasant working atmosphere, this approach means different contractors can work efficiently, often resulting in reduced waste and increased productivity. For example, if contractors realise they are using the same material as one another, they can order enough for both parties, potentially reducing waiting time and costs.
Integrated project delivery encourages a collaborative atmosphere and harmonious working environment, among other practical benefits. Working together in this way often leads to smoother run projects, which end up closer to budget, similar to how the villagers gained a tasty soup from a stone in the Grimm’s fairy tale.