Successful design-build or construction management at-risk projects begin with a well-planned and thoughtfully executed procurement process. This process should be based on the owner’s objectives, expectations and priorities that are clearly defined. Together or independently, these variables can affect the timeline and complexity of the procurement process, in addition to costs.
General guidelines for conducting an efficient, successful design-build or CMAR procurement include:
- Determining which project-delivery method to use – whether that’s fixed-price, progressive design-build or CMAR – and what project requirements will be performance-based, prescriptive or a combination of the two.
- Seeking the advice of other owners who have conducted design-build or CMAR procurements, as well as financial or legal counsel for guidance, when appropriate.
- Determining if, and to what extent, the CMAR or design-build firm will be allowed to self-perform.
- Completing any work related to permitting, environmental impacts and geotechnical investigations, and making any related knowledge or materials to respondents.
- Clearly describing the scope of services, project requirements, and desired level of involvement or control by the owner.
- Issuing a draft contract early in the procurement process. This will allow an owner to gain insight from prospective respondents.
- Assembling a reasonable draft contract that thoroughly addresses and allocates risks to the party best suited to control or absorb them.
- Including appropriate provisions in the contract, if there will be shared savings between the owner and the delivery firm or firms.
In order for a procurement process to go smoothly, owners must also have a clear understanding of state and local regulations governing the site location. Clearly conveying information regarding regulations, project requirements and draft contract terms will result in a transparent process that minimizes unnecessary expenditures of time and resources for both the project owner and any potential delivery firms.
Another best practice owners should consider is conducting a pre-submittal meeting to enable potential respondents to seek clarification on the project, the RFQ or the selection process. This type of meeting also enables the owner to gauge the level of interest in the project from potential respondents.
The key takeaway for owners is that they should put the same thought and consideration into the procurement process, as they do for the project itself. This will ensure equitable and efficient use of time and resources – both financial and otherwise – from a project’s inception to its completion.