Making design-build project management a success

The Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) suggested that by 2021, over 40% of construction spending will be on design-build. Put simply, a design-build project is a delivery approach in which the design-build team works with the project owner from initial concept through to project completion – planning, design, and construction – under a single contract.

Inevitably, the project owner is looking for contractors who have the ability, the tools, and the experience to deliver on the project successfully. Therefore, to have confidence in the contractors they must be able to evaluate, based on time, cost and efficacy, those pitching so they can then make the best decision.

The traditional, linear approach means that engineers first develop the design separately from how the design is to be built. This precedes the (lengthy and often convoluted) tender/bid process before eventually starting construction.

However, a design-build approach is employed to reduce the time taken and costs of a project (the DBIA reported an almost 4% less cost growth and project delivery times of up to102% faster than the more traditional approach) as a shared approach allows all aspects of a project to be collaborative and unified throughout. This can save time and money as problems can be addressed prior to any actions which may then need retrospective correction, and real-time recommendations can be made to improve efficiencies.

So how do project owners ensure that potential contractors have the optimal tools and necessary experience to manage the design-build project?

For a successful design-build strategy, the contractor must demonstrate the three components of collaboration, transparency and security/access control in their offering.

Full collaboration between all stakeholders in the project is fundamental and as such, the contractor’s ability to utilise the tools and technology (cloud-storage or data visualisation tools) necessary to optimise access to critical information (risk-management, scheduling, document sharing etc.) when and where it is required, in real time, is key.

Transparency, clarity, and understanding for all stakeholders, particularly project-owners, regarding the decision-making process avoids unacceptable scenarios, surprises and costs.

This means that project management tools must be more than adequate for reporting frameworks, employer information requirements (EIRs) and fixed audit trails so that all issues and decisions are understood and addressed by both contractors and owners before they can escalate.

Likewise, it is essential that for all relevant parties, the request for information process, security, data, and access control is through a secure, single platform for frictionless access to all – safeguarded – project information. This is to ensure that the information being shared is correct and up-to-date, and that it can only be accessed by the specific contractors it concerns.

If the build team can show that their design-build strategy is proven, through benchmarking and real time reporting, they are more likely to win the trust and confidence of the client.

RB Plant | Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Consultancy | Team talking