Price and Schedule Aren’t the Owner’s Top Drivers Anymore When Choosing Collaborative Delivery

Word list, word cloud, doing a survey asking opinions. Concept image with 3D rendered typography

The Water Design-Build Council is at it again…collecting data and doing research. The latest efforts are being finalized for public release shortly.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some preliminary results that I find interesting. The Council interviewed dozens of owners across the country and asked a variety of questions. My favorite was, “What is driving or influencing project procurement decisions in the context of collaborative delivery?”

It appears that price and schedule are not the owner’s most important concerns as they once were.

Here are the top four responses (in no particular order):

  1. Complexity— Multiple federal, state, and local regulatory oversight layers are creating a more complex and complicated decision-making environment for owners. In addition to constantly emerging technologies, the types of treatment facilities required to meet the changing needs and regulations are getting more complex. And don’t forget, ratepayers’ expectations and demands are driving complexity higher as well.
  2. Risk Management—With complexity increasing, owners are focusing on how to manage new levels of risk. Responses from owners indicated that a higher level of collaboration between contractor, designer, and owner is now accepted as an important risk mitigation measure. They recognize that collaborative-delivery approaches can shift certain risks. For example, process performance risk can be shifted to the collaborative-delivery team who, in many cases, is better equipped to manage this risk.
  3. Comfort Levels—Owners we interviewed all agreed that collaborative delivery is “not so alternative” anymore. Owners rely on other owners’ experiences as a primary source of information. More and more owners have turned to collaborative-delivery procurement to meet their needs. As a result, using these procurement methods is becoming more accepted at a considerably higher rate.
  4. Progressive Design-Build—The introduction of progressive design-build, according to the owners we interviewed, is a significant development that influences their procurement decisions. Owners agreed that achieving the “level of control” that they are accustomed to with traditional procurement methods requires adopting new or different approaches to implement collaborative-delivery procurements. Developing these new techniques can prove challenging; however, owners also agreed that progressive design-build more closely aligns to their traditional procurement methods.

It’s a sign of the times that these results are what they are. As a practitioner, I’ve always known that collaborative delivery was not necessarily faster or cheaper…but it always delivers more value for every dollar and day spent. It’s gratifying to hear that owners are seeing the true benefits of collaborative-delivery procurement techniques. Stay tuned for the complete results of the Council’s latest research efforts.

About Brian Adams, PE, Director of Design-Build Projects, Tesco Controls

Brian Adams, PE, is Director of Design-Build Projects for Tesco Controls. He has practiced as a PE in various roles at several national and global consulting firms focused on water and wastewater projects, including as a key team member of the water design-build sales group for a multinational firm that designs and constructs water and wastewater treatment plants. Brian is a licensed engineer in Texas and California.
Topics: Collaborative Delivery, Research.