Top 6 mistakes made on IPD projects

Integrated project delivery (IPD) projects involve equal opportunity for risk and reward.


Integrated project delivery (IPD) projects involve equal opportunity for risk and reward.

The integrated project delivery (IPD) method encourages all involved trade partners to share the risk and success of a project. While this ensures that team members are entering the project with the same mentality and goals, mistakes are still likely to be made. Not all IPD projects are the same, but there are common mistakes made that can make or break a project. Being aware of the possible mistakes, and how to overcome them on your next IPD project can help to alleviate potential issues. Be on the lookout for these top six commonly made mistakes on IPD projects:

1. Lack of clear expectations set by the team

The first step to starting an IPD project is fully understanding what the owner expects from his/her team, and the conditions of satisfaction. When these expectations are not clear, the confusion continues to run downhill and begins to impact the teams at all levels. A potential solution may be something as simple as establishing the rules of engagement or as complex as mitigating conflicts. Regardless of how simple or complex it may be, it is imperative that clear expectations and directions are given. Otherwise, the project will suffer and never gain traction.

2. Poor collaboration from general contractors and trade partners

Nothing says "lack of team" like poor collaboration from the players that are supposed to be working together. This is probably one of the largest areas of waste often seen on projects. It can entail mishandled requests for information (RFI's), an unclear hand-off process, or worse, trade partners arguing in the field instead of installing scheduled work. Poor collaboration destroys morale, creates conflicts, instigates trade damage, and promotes an unhealthy “us versus them” type of environment.

3. Lack of buy-in to the IPD process

Teams that fail to buy-in or are not given the opportunity to do so can only lead to disaster. Complete buy-in requires a little more time upfront. When leadership makes every effort to obtain buy-in from the major stakeholders at every level, it allows all relevant parties to play a part in the project and feel accountable. To allow members to feel like an equal contributor, it’s important to give time to ask questions or get opinions from key project leaders with IPD experience. Taking the time to do so can be the difference between success and failure.

4. A belief that an IPD project is a magic pill or easy

Anyone that has been on an IPD project realizes that the process requires hard work, discipline, and a continuous commitment to improving. Unfortunately, if the team or any main players are not prepared for that commitment, the process will ultimately fail. The discipline needed to stay the course is often harder than returning to a traditional methodology. As the popularity and encouragement of utilizing Lean processes continues to grow, it may appear as if anyone could do it by taking a class, utilizing sheer will power, or simply hiring a consultant. This mentality can lead to many frustrating days and months if the team is not prepared to work together, engage regularly, and manage the process from start to completion. 

5. Misusing Lean tools

Being part of a traditionally ran project can be much more manageable than a project misusing tools designed to help. Misusing tools can end up hurting the team's performance due to misunderstanding their optimal purpose. Often times when Lean tools are misused, the team is left with a poor image of what Lean tools are designed to do. Nothing is ever perfect, but when the team authentically tries to implement Lean processes, it can work. Half-stepping towards the goal will prove to be a recipe for disaster and promote a disdain for the cause overall.

6. Visual aids (charts & graphs, etc.) that fail to depict the project’s real story

There have been countless discussions with Lean leaders that fight over pretty pictures and graphs instead of recognizing the actual work being performed in the field or not. Work can never be replaced with graphs or stories, especially if they do not reflect what is actually taking place on the project. Although a measure of both components play a major role in the process, the work being performed in the field should always take precedence over charts and graphs placed on the wall of the project office. While visual aids help to tell the story happening, it is just as important to ensure that what is being posted aligns with what is actually occurring.

There will always be room for improvement. It is often said, “if you’re not making mistakes you’re probably not doing anything.” In reality, the key is to not to make the same ones over and over.

IPD projects can be exciting, fun, and challenging, while simultaneously offering an opportunity for like-minded people to come together and build awesome projects. Traditional projects can stifle the diversity of thought, creative thinking, and complex ideas that bring value to customers. With all this brain power in one place, mistakes and multiple opinions are bound to happen, but more can be accomplished with a team trying to improve, rather than go solo and not accomplish as much.

Henry Nutt III is general superintendent for the northern California division at Southland Industries. This article originally appeared on Southland Industries' blog. Southland Industries is a CFE Media content partner. 

Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Exploring fire pumps and systems; Lighting energy codes; Salary survey; Changes to NFPA 20
How to use IPD; 2017 Commissioning Giants; CFDs and harmonic mitigation; Eight steps to determine plumbing system requirements
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me