When it comes to integrated project delivery (IPD), the very nature of the contract the involved parties sign means, for better or worse, they’re in it together.

And the challenges that once burdened a particular member of that team—whether the owner, designer, or construction manager—is now a shared burden.

The team building the new Lawrence + Memorial (L+M) Hospital cancer center in Waterford, Conn., which includes Suffolk Construction and TRO Jung|Brannen (TROJB), found this out through something as simple as insulation behind the building’s masonry wall.

The design team decided to increase the R-value of the insulation—but it wasn’t a change that could simply be implemented; it had to be discussed. However, that discussion—between immediate project management team (PMT) members as well as subcontractors and manufacturers—paid off.

The team was able to identify a product with a higher R-value, as originally intended, but also realized the insulation support system originally specified could be reduced.

In the end, the team got a little better insulation with a little less support. “The building gets the benefit,” noted Pamela Mace, senior associate/project manager, TROJB, in a recent call to update me on the project’s progress. “The best part is that whole idea was free,” added Joshua DiGloria, senior project manager for Suffolk.

But not entirely free—bringing the team members together to weigh the options and make a thoughtful decision took three to four days. So I couldn’t help but ask how adding time to the schedule is a good thing.

DiGloria says that’s just one of the learned practices of working with IPD—taking the time to discuss what needs discussed, but doing so without putting off what needs to happen next. For example, if windows need installed on a certain day, then whatever related decision needs made has to happen before then.

However, the team has realized another nuance of IPD—that perhaps the installation of those windows is delayed because a team member has fallen behind. It’s something the team has deemed an “ah-ha moment” in recognizing its own weakness: They’ve developed such a strong working relationship with one another that it isn’t always easy to point out each other's failures.

“We have a hard time calling each other to task and being mad at each other,” DiGloria said. “That can be a negative to the great teamwork, is you want to look out for your teammates.”

And, likewise, the teammates don’t want to let each other down.

So far, Mace said, the solution has been for the PMT members to step up their oversight, identify potential issues, and help each party figure out what needs to be done to make it right. The PMT is also tracking planned percent complete points, making sure what needs to be done by “X” date has actually happened, or is about to.

It might still be a work in progress, but it beats the alternative that more traditional projects might have—simply delaying the schedule or increasing the budget. “That’s the end goal. Normally people might think, ‘Oh, let’s just push the schedule’ or ‘Here’s a money issue.’ We’re taking it on ourselves and owning that we don’t want either of those things to happen,” DiGloria said.

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