Summary of Research Findings
This two-year study was funded by the Charles Pankow Foundation and the Construction Industry Institute. The resulting process is based upon an empirical study of more than 200 completed building projects. Using several rigorous statistical methods to gain a full understanding of the projects and relationships contained therein, the main finding of the research was that project delivery decisions could not be made independently from one another. The organizational structure, procurement processes, and contractual terms need to be designed in concert, as a strategy. In particular, the research found that those strategies that aligned the project team, through both integrated processes and development of a cohesive group, were the only means for achieving project success – cost, quality, and schedule performance.
While the development of the team is likely not a surprising insight for many who have experience within the construction industry, the challenge of designing team performance into the delivery process may seem more daunting or random. However, the data from this research show that certain strategies can produce repeatable outcomes. Three critical elements emerged for enabling more effective integration and cohesion. Developing a team able to deliver the desired project results was best enabled through: early involvement of the core team, qualification based selection of team members, and cost transparency in accounting.
Early involvement, not only of the builder but of critical design-build or design-assist specialty contractors as participants in the design process, is an essential element to delivery of integrated project requirements. Engagement in the process was critical before the development of the schematic design to garner the full value from this approach. Early involvement is necessary to enable their participation in key collaborative processes, such as the development of project goals, participation in design charrettes, and the development of a building information model execution plan.
To enable the early and high quality interactions to take place amongst project team members, the means of assembling the team by engaging the builder and specialty trades for the project is essential. Projects with the most cohesive teams relied primarily on qualifications submissions and interview processes to assess the quality of the team members. The shift away from selection based on the cost of the construction scope, toward the qualifications and team chemistry of potential collaborators, is an essential first step to breaking down the barriers to developing an effective team.
Finally, the contractual terminology used by the project team needs to reinforce the approach and strategy in aligning the interests of the team. The use of open book accounting processes during the design proved critical in the development of trust amongst the project team. Contracts, which brought the team together through shared risk and reward, were also common in the delivery of successful projects.
These themes--early involvement, qualification driven selection, and cost transparency--may be incorporated into a variety of delivery strategies. The key to the process lies in designing a strategy that enables the team processes best suited an owner’s project needs.
Contact the Authors:
Robert Leicht, Ph.D.
The Pennsylvania State University
Keith Molenaar, Ph.D.
University of Colorado Boulder
John Messner, Ph.D.
The Pennsylvania State University
Bryan Franz, Ph.D.
University of Florida
Behzad Esmaelli, Ph.D.
University of Nebrask-Lincoln
This research was conducted as a collaboration between the University of Colorado Boulder and the Pennsylvania State University.