Is Your Organization Considering Using Collaborative Delivery?

If your organization is considering using collaborative delivery, it’s likely you’re thinking about critical issues, such as permitting, design, stakeholder input, risk management and your construction deadline. If you are new to design-build, you’re probably also considering whether you should use a progressive or lump-sum model, as well as how you might spur innovation by balancing prescriptive- and performance-based requirements. You might also be worried about developing an RFQ and an RFP to effectively evaluate practitioners and their ideas.

Addressing all of these issues will be critical to your success. Or, these issues won’t matter at all because your organization is not ready.

We frequently talk to municipal agency staff at all levels about a collaborative delivery culture and we consistently hear that organizational resistance is one of the greatest challenges to using design-build. This insight is confirmed by many former public utility executives in our own companies: organizational preparedness is the critical factor to successfully adopting collaborative delivery.

Here are three things that need to occur to overcome challenges and to be a successful design-build owner:

  1. Empower an advocate. 
    Integrating design-build into an existing organization requires leadership. Successful utitlities identify a design-build champion, promote his or her education in best-practices, and empower them to lead an internal, core team through the inevitable learning curve. And, when it comes time to adjust organizational approaches, your design-build champion will need support from senior management.
  2. Learn from others. 
    Design-build done right is based on the work of generations. The hard work – and missteps — by those coming before you can be leveraged to your benefit. Veterans of successful collaborative projects are always willing to share their insights and organizations such as the Water Design-Build Council and DBIA provide the platform for you to benefit from proven, practical approaches to the challenges you are facing. Get involved and seek out your peers for advice (and we can help you make personal connections – just ask!).
  3. Hug the elephant.
    Ever heard of the “elephant in the room?” Most people naturally run from elephants, but successfully integrating design-build into your organization means embracing the changes required to leverage the schedule, innovation and quality benefits of collaborative delivery. So, talk to your procurement team now about the policies the need to be revised. Tackle the politics early. Understand how your operators may be impacted and seek their engagement. Educate your engineering and permitting teams about the opportunities for engagement in a collaborative design process. 

Final Thought

Many current and former owners have told us that design-build was labor- and resource-intensive, especially on their early projects. Be prepared for a short-term budget impact in return for longer-term benefits. However, you can gain some efficiency by using the education and resource materials developed by your peers with support from many of the industry’s most proven practitioners.

For example, did you know that we have a full set of procurement documents written and available for you to customize at no charge? You can get started by clicking below.

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About Leofwin Clark, WDBC President and Brown and Caldwell Vice President

As a vice president at Brown and Caldwell, Mr. Clark develops market strategy and leads at-risk (construction management at-risk, design-build, design-build-operate, P3, and program management at-risk) pursuits from identification and positioning through the proposal and negotiations processes. In addition to many years of membership on the DBIA Water/Wastewater Committee and as a DBIA Conference Co-Chair, Mr. Clark has served in several officer and board roles for the Water Design-Build Council, most recently as the Education Committee Chair.
Topics: Collaborative Project Delivery.

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