Moving from Design-Build, DB, to Integrated Project Delivery, IPD

Providing the opportunity for the kind of collaboration that the construction industry so badly needs….

Design-Build has a spectrum, ranging from almost as dysfunctional …. all the way to almost as collaborative as Integrated Project Delivery.

Shifting Design-Build toward IPD

This blog entry was co-authored by Oscia Wilson and Lisa Dal Gallo

We are big proponents of Design-Build because it places designers and builders in the same room, thus providing the opportunity for the kind of collaboration that the construction industry so badly needs.  Opportunity for collaboration, however, is not the same as a guarantee of collaboration.  Design-Build has a spectrum, ranging from almost as dysfunctional as Design-Bid-Build all the way to almost as collaborative as Integrated Project Delivery.

Design Build continuum

Figure 1: Depending on how the Design-Build structure is implemented, a project can be nearly identical to an IPD structure or very dysfunctional

On the left of this spectrum, you have those Design-Build projects that use bridging documents, lowest bidder selection, and a team that doesn’t work well together.  Although the builders are contractually combined with the architect of record, these projects are not collaborative, let alone integrated.

Owners, this is bad for you.  The biggest problem with this model is that when you have an architect prepare bridging documents, you’ve just made all the big decisions without the input of the building team.  Since 80% of the cost decisions are made during the first 20% of the design, you’ve just cheated yourself out of the biggest source of potential savings that come from collaboration between the contractors and the designers.

On top of that, now you’ve divided your design team into two groups: the architects who did the bridging documents, and the architects who finish the project.  This creates knowledge transfer loss, inefficiencies due to effort repetition, and prevents the second architect from holding a sense of ownership over the design.

In addition, if your selection is based solely on price, the Design-Build team will price exactly what is on the bridging documents; there is no incentive for the team to engage in target value design.  This situation could be improved by offering an incentive through savings participation, but that kind of aggressive innovation requires a high functioning team.  If the selection was based on lowest bid, the team may be too dysfunctional to achieve real gains because the lowest prices generally come from the least experienced and least savvy of the potential participants.  Often in these settings, cost savings are achieved at the expense of quality design, as general contractors under great pressure to achieve aggressive cost savings revert to treating architects and engineers as venders instead of partners.

For owners who want intimate involvement in the process, Design-Build based on low bidding offers another disadvantage.  In order for the Design-Build team to deliver for that low price you were so excited about, they have no choice but to ruthlessly cut you out of the process.  They are carrying so much risk that they can’t afford any of the potential interference, delay, or scope escalation that comes from involving a client in the back-room discussions.

If you have a team that works well together, you move farther to the right on the spectrum.

If you hire the design-build team based on good scoping documents instead of bridging documents, you move farther to the right on the spectrum.  (Partial bridging documents may be a good compromise for public owners whose process requires a bridging step.)

Starting somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, you start seeing successful projectsA successful, collaborative Design-Build project is light years ahead of Design-Bid-Build.

Some projects are pushing the envelope so far that their Design-Build projects look very similar to Integrated Project Delivery (IPD).  Lisa Dal Gallo, a partner at Hanson Bridgett is an expert in IPD and partially integrated projects, including how to modify a Design-Build structure to get very close to an IPD model.  She recently discussed this topic at both the San Diego and Sacramento chapters of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA). The discussion was mainly to assist public owners who have design-build capability to improve upon their delivery, but same principles apply to private owners who may not be in the position to engage in a fully integrated process through an IPD delivery method.

Several recent and current projects in California are operating on the far right side of this Design-Build collaboration spectrum, by crafting a custom version of Design-Build that uses IPD principles.  Here’s how they’re doing it:

  • Skipping the Bridging Documents. Instead of using bridging documents as the basis for bidding, owners are creating scoping criteria or partial bridging documents that provide performance and owner requirements, but allow the design team to collaborate on the design and present their own concept to achieve the owner’s goals. Under this type of scenario, the design-build teams would typically be prequalified and then no more than 3 teams would be solicited to participate in design competition.The team is usually selected based on best value.  After engagement, the owner and end users work with the team through the scoping phase and set the price.
  • Integrating the Design-Build entity internally
    • To assist in a change in behavior, the general contractor and major players like architect, engineers, MEP subs, and structural subs can pool a portion of their profit, proportionally, sharing in the gains or pains inflicted based on the project outcome.
    • Through downstream agreements, the major team players can also agree to waive certain liabilities against each other.
    • They enter into a BIM Agreement and share information freely, using BIM to facilitate target value design and a central server to allow full information transparency.
  • Partially integrating with the owner.  The owner can play an active role, participating in design and management meetings.

The extent to which the owner is integrated with the design/build team is a subtle—but crucial—point of differentiation between an extremely collaborative form of Design-Build (which I suggest we call “Integrated Design-Build”) and Integrated Project Delivery.

Here is the crux of the biscuit: Under an IPD model, the owner actually shares in the financial risks and rewards associated with meeting the budget and schedule[1].  Therefore, they are part of the team and get to fully participate in back-of-house discussions and see how the sausage is made.

Under Design-Build, even an Integrated version of Design-Build, the design-build entity is carrying all the financial risk for exceeding a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) and/or schedule, so they deserve to collect all the potential reward if they can figure out how to bring it in faster and cheaper.  Since the owner’s risk for cost and schedule is substantially reduced when the project uses a GMP, the owner doesn’t really deserve a spot at the table once they’ve finished clearly communicating their design and performance criteria (which is what the scoping documents are for).

It can be an awkward thing trying to incorporate a client who wants to be involved, while making sure that client doesn’t request anything above and beyond what is strictly communicated in the scoping documents upon which the GMP is based.

So the key differences between this Integrated Design-Build and full Integrated Project Delivery are:

  • The contract model (a multi-party agreement between Owner, Architect and Contractor vs. an agreement between owner and usually the contractor)

  • The level of owner participation in the decision making process

  • The fee structure and certain waivers of liability (shared risk) between the owner and the other key project team members.

Delivery model diagrams

Figure 2: Traditional design-build is hierarchical in nature. An integrated design-build model is collaborative in nature (but only partially integrates with the owner). An IPD model is fully collaborative with the owner and may or may not include consultants and sub-contractors inside the circle of shared risk & reward, depending on the project.

The IPD contract form of agreement is aimed at changing behaviors, and its contractual structure exists to prompt, reward, and reinforce those behavior changes.  However, full scale IPD is not right for every owner or project; it is another tool in a team’s tool box.  The owner and its consultants and counsel should determine the best delivery method for the project and proceed accordingly.  The important thing to remember is that any delivery model can be adapted to be closer to the ideal collaborative model by making certain critical changes.  What is one thing you might change on your next project to prompt better collaboration?


[1] Under IPD, a Target Cost is set early (similar to a GMP).  If costs exceed that target, it comes out of the design & construction team’s profits.  But if costs go so high that the profit pool is exhausted, the owner picks up the rest of the costs.  If costs are lower than the target, the owner and the team split the savings.


Lisa Dal Gallo

Lisa Dal Gallo is a Partner at Hanson Bridgett, LLP, specializing in assisting clients in determining the best project delivery method to achieve the teams’ goals, developing creative deal structures that encourage use of collaborative and integrated delivery processes and drafting contracts in business English.  She is the founder of California Women in Design + Construction (“CWDC”), a member of the AIA Center for Integrated Practice and the AIA California Counsel IPD Steering Committee, and a LEED AP.  Lisa can be reached at 415-995-5188 or by email at ldalgallo@hansonbridgett.com.

 

 

 

Oscia Wilson headshotOscia Wilson, AIA, MBA is the founder of Boiled Architecture.  After working on complex healthcare facility projects, she became convinced that Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) was key to optimizing construction project delivery.  She founded Boiled Architecture to practice forms of Integrated and highly collaborative project delivery.  She serves on the AIA California Council’s committee on IPD.

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Job Order Contracting – JOC – is a proven form of IPD which targets renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction, while IPD targets major new construction.

IPD - Integrated Project Delivery and JOC - Job Order Contracting
IPD – Integrated Project Delivery and JOC – Job Order Contracting
JOC Process
JOC Process

BIM graphic #6

CASE STUDY – Job Order Contracting – US Army Corps of Engineers

Download Case Study PDF

Overview – The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was approached to establish a Job Order Contracting (JOC) program to assist in construction projects associated with ongoing Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization (SRM) work. As a result, USACE awarded a JOC to an 8(a) Contractor.
Problem/Need – Approximately eighty (80) potential JOC projects were identified subsequently narrowed done to forty two (42). The problem was clear: How could the USACE estimate, negotiate, and award all of these projects, valued at approximately $3.96 million in work, before the close out of the fiscal year?

The JOC process is a high performance delivery system for facility SRM work. The process is more efficient and timely than conventional construction and acquisition methods.
To increase the level of the District’s JOC performance and teamwork, the JOC program must have a dedicated Project Delivery Team (PDT), clear lines of communication, and provide adequate training to personnel involved.
A seasoned JOC contractor coupled with efficient and effective JOC delivery process and PDT will provide complete customer satisfaction, quality construction, and timely execution.
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BIM Evolution

In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
– Charles Darwin

BIM, the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology, requires a fundamental change in how the construction (Architects, Contractors, Engineers) and facility management (Owners, Service Providers, Building Product Manufactures, Oversight Groups, Building Users) sectors operate on a day-to-day basis.  

BIM, combined and  Cloud Computing are game changers.  They are disruptive technologies with integral business processes/practices that demand collaboration, transparency, and accurate/current information displayed via common terminology.

The traditional ad-hoc and adversarial business practices commonly associated with Construction and Facility Management are changing as we speak.    Design-bid-build and even Design-Build will rapidly go by the wayside in favor of the far more efficient processes of Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and Job Order Contracting – JOC, and similar collaborative programs.  (JOC is a form of integrated project delivery specifically targeting facility renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction).

There is no escaping the change.   Standardized data architectures (Ominclass, COBie, Uniformat, Masterformat) and cost databases (i.e. RSMeans), accesses an localized via cloud computing are even now beginning to be available.   While historically, the construction and facility management sectors have lagged their counterparts (automotive, aerospace, medical, …)  relative to technology and LEAN business practices, environmental and economic market drivers and government mandates are closing the gap.

The construction and life-cycle management of the built environment requires the integration off several knowledge domains, business “best-practices”, and technologies as portrayed below.   The efficient use of this BIG DATA is enabled by the BIM, Cloud Computing, and Integrated Project Delivery methods.

Image

The greatest challenges to these positive changes are  the CULTURE of the Construction and the Facility Management Sectors.  Also, an embedded first-cost vs. life-cycle or total cost of ownership perspective.  An the unfortunate marketing spotlight upon the technology of 3D visualization vs. BIM.   Emphasis MUST be place upon the methods of how we work on a daily basis…locally and globally  − strategic planning, capitial reinvestment planning, designing collaborating, procuring, constructing, managing and operating.  All of these business processes have different impacts upon the “facility” infrastructure and  construction supply chain, building Owners, Stakeholders, etc., yet communication terms, definitions, must be transparent and consistently applied in order to gain  greater efficiencies.

Some facility life-cycle management are already in place for the federal government facility portfolio and its only a matter of time before these are expanded and extended into all other sectors.

BIM, not 3D visualization, but true BIM or Big BIM,  and Cloud Computing will connect information from every discipline together.  It will not necessarily be a single combined model.  In fact the latter has significant drawbacks.    Each knowledge domain has independent areas of expertise and requisite process that would be diluted and marginalized if managed within one model.   That said, appropriate “roll-up” information will be available to a higher level model.   (The issue of capability and productivity marginalization can be proven by looking a ERP and IWMS systems.  Integration of best-in-class technology and business practices is always support to systems that attempt to do everything, yet do not single thing well.)

Fundamental Changes to Project Delivery for Repair, Renovation, Sustainability, and New Construction Projects MUST include:

  • Qualifications Based or Best Value Selection
  • Some form of pricing transparency and standardization
  • Early and ongoing information-sharing among project stakeholders
  • Appropriate distribution of risk
  • Some form of financial incentive to drive performance / performance-based relationships

BIM vs Information Silos

 BIM is not about software or technology but about CULTURE CHANGE and CHANGE MANAGEMENT.

BIM is about simplifying and adding visibility to the life-cycle management of the built environment.  You are either “on-board” or “not”.  It’s up to you.

BIM and FM are synonymous.  Unfortunately there are very few instances of BIM.

The biggest mistake made by most people new to BIM is to assume that BIM is all about technology, and so focus all their efforts on mastering the technology rather than considering the impact that the application of this technology will have on the processes among Owners, AEs, Contractors, Subs, Business Product and Service Providers.

IFMA BIM Lifecycle Operations Community of Practice (BIMLO COP) Kickoff Meeting Video – http://www.gosee.tv/bimlco/

BIM requirements:

  1. Organizational Commitment
  2. Collaborative, Efficient Project Delivery Methods (IPD- Integrated Project Delivery, JOC – Job Order Contracting …)
  3. Standards (OMNICLASS, COBie, IFC), Common Terms, Definitions, Metrics, Cost Data (Standardized Cost Data, example-RSMeans)
  4.  Life-cycle Information
  5.  Open digital technology supporting the above
  6.  Continuous Training and Improvement

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BIG DATA, BIM, Life-cycle Management of the Built Environment

Dos and Don’ts for your Job Order Contracting Consultant RFP

(reprinted from http://lisacooleyassociates.com/job-order-contract-consulting-rfp-dos-and-donts/)

Dos and Don’ts for your Job Order Contracting Consultant RFP

I’ve had lots of inquiries about my last blog post, and lots of owners have asked specifically what provisions they should avoid to ensure healthy competition on their JOC Consultant RFPs. So, inspired by the Do and Don’t section of a popular fashion magazine, here’s my version for the Job Order Contracting world. All of these contract provisions come from actual RFPs in my files. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Unit Price Book: Don’t

“Contractor must prepare a Unit Price Book containing unit prices covering material, equipment and labor costs for various units of construction, and adjusting these costs to current market conditions. The use of generic factors to localize prices is not acceptable. Unit prices for demolition shall be provided for each construction task. “

Unit Price Book: Do

“Bidders may propose their own unit price books, propose to create their own books, or propose the use of unit price books from a third party source, or combination of any of the foregoing. Tasks and prices in unit price book(s) must reflect the local prevailing and other wage requirements of applicable local laws. Books must be updated at least annually. Premiums for restricted area (e.g. prison, airport, courthouse) work and after-hours work will need to be included in the books, or otherwise provided for. The Unit Price Book must contain material, equipment and labor costs for various units of construction, and a mechanism for adjusting these costs to current market conditions.

Describe the research approach of the unit price book, including:

  • Number and qualifications of personnel conducting pricing research;
  • Anticipated number of material, labor, and equipment line items to be researched and included;
  • Price collection methodology;
  • Approach to localizing prices;
  • Other factors (quantity, conditions, etc.) that are used to modify unit prices;
  • Organization of the UPB in both print and electronic form, including demolition tasks; and
  • Frequency and methodology for updating unit prices through the life of the contract.”

 

How to determine JOC consulting and implementation contract provisions

Why: Because there are a limited number of Unit Price Books, this is the place where constrictive language can literally result in NO competition. Price books have in recent years come in two versions—a national pricing book that uses a researched city cost index to adjust costs for a local market, and customized books which assimilate localized research into the deliverable, physical price book. The lines are blurring since current software products automatically apply the city cost index, and line item customization has been introduced to national pricing books to meet specialized client needs. But language barring the use of factors to localize prices can still limit responses to your RFP. A much better approach is to request information in the RFP that helps you understand the methodology and research that goes into creating the UPB, and then evaluating the merits of the deliverable based on that information.

Pricing: Don’t

“The JOC Contract Implementation Services agreement will be a performance-based contract with no fees are paid up-front to the consultant, but a percentage fee is paid for successful issuance of construction task orders resulting from the consultant’s preparation of unit price books and contract bid documents.”

or

“Consultant’s Annual Fee: For the satisfactory performance of all required services hereunder, the Consultant shall be paid an Annual Fee, the amount of which shall be calculated as a percentage of the dollar amount of task orders which are (a) issued to construction contractors utilizing the JOC System, and (b) registered by the Comptroller during the specified year.”

Pricing: Do

The Contract will be set up on a task order basis, using the prices, licensing fees, and rates established in the Pricing Response Form. Individual tasks will be authorized in advance by [owner] along with an agreed upon scope of work, budget, and schedule. Pricing flexibility to accommodate the possible desire on the part of [owner] to perform some services more economically with agency in-house staff or other Consultants will also be weighed. [Owner] may request clarifying pricing information after the proposals have been submitted in order to make fair comparisons between the proposals.

Why: This is another place where the options tend to be mutually exclusive, so if you want to evaluate multiple options, you need to build some flexibility into your pricing portion of the RFP. Pricing goes to the heart of strategic planning for your JOC, and what level of outsourcing vs. internal management and control you desire. You may not have full clarity on those decisions until you have your consultant on board so a menu of pricing options can be appealing.

One effective approach I have seen recently is to carefully outline all acceptable pricing structures and populate the pricing form with all of them. Then, an offeror can fill out the pricing structure they desire, and zero out the others. Such a flexible pricing form might include a % of volume, burdened hourly rates with estimated hours, or lump sum figures for scope of services. We’ll play with some possible structures in a future posting. While evaluating mutiple RFPs with different pricing structures can be challenging, as owners develop lifecycle costing capabilities these can be applied to JOC programs.

Software: Don’t

“There shall be no limit on the number of installations of the software. Software must be accompanied by the following: (i) documentation demonstrating that the Consultant either owns or has a perpetual license to use, and to license others to use, the software, and (ii) a written, non-exclusive license granting [owner] and the JOC contractors unlimited use of the software, including all upgrades thereto, throughout the term of the Contract. Such software must be internet based.”

Software: Do

“Detail the pricing structure and options for the electronic support systems, including licensing agreements, volume discounts, and additional services including technical support and recommended training.”

Why: The former provision is not a typical pricing scenario in the software industry. Typically software is paid for as a perpetual license with additional fees for maintenance, support, upgrades, etc., or on an annual subscription basis which includes the above ongoing services. Most software is priced on a per-user or per concurrent-user basis. To have the maximum number of options presented in the RFP process, an owner really needs to allow the most common software pricing structures. Microsoft Excel wouldn’t be a viable competitor if you wrote the first clause into an RFP for spreadsheet software! Regarding internet access, virtually any software can be hosted in the cloud to provide internet-based service, but there may be advantages to having software installed on your own servers and network. The more open-ended language on requirements for a JOC electronic support system will allow you to consider a variety of licensing and pricing approaches.

Subcontracting: Don’t

“The Consultant is not permitted to enter into any subcontract(s) for consulting services for the JOC System.”

Subcontracting: Do

“The Proposer shall clearly indicate what portions of the scope of work will be subcontracted. Provide an organizational chart of prime and subcontractors to illustration contractual relationships, and clearly indicate in proposal response which entity is responsible for which portions of work.”

Why: Just as you would not prohibit a general contractor from subcontracting specialty work if it was more effective or efficient, you don’t want to constrain a consultant’s means and methods. You want the most knowledgeable, efficient and professional resources working on your project. Some providers do everything in house, some work with partners to provide domain expertise for the full scope of services. You do want to have a clear idea of how the work will be accomplished, who is doing what, and how quality control will be managed, but don’t prohibit partnering approaches that may meet your needs without having a clear reason for doing so.

Are there any other JOC Consultant or JOC System provisions that have tripped you up or led to lack of competition?

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What is Job Order Contracting? What is IDIQ?

What is an IDIQ?

Indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts has been a useful tool in federal government acquisition for many years.

IDIQ contracts had historically been used only as single award contracts to procure services or supplies until the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) of 1994, noting the value of multiple award contracts.   Additionally the court system determined that IDIQ contracts were applicable to construction and architect-engineering services, provided the selection of contractors and placement of orders are consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 36.

Multiple forms of both multiple and single award construction IDIQ contracts are available as well as software to enable rapid implementation and consistent deployment.  Examples of multiple awards are multiple award construction contracts (MACC) and multiple award task order contracts (MATOC). Single awards include job order contracts / job order contracting (JOC) and simplified acquisition of base engineer requirements (SABER). SABER is the US Air Force implementation of JOC.

Multiple awards result in individual job tasks for which all awardees compete and are negotiated and priced per the specific requirement. Single awards and multiple awards are typically priced using detailed line item cost estimating provided specific to the IDIQ.  Commercial, industry standard unit price books may be use, such as RSMeans Cost Books or  “custom” IDIQ price books.  Both may be referred to a Unit Price Book (UPB), or an IDIQ price book/guide.   It is important that both the Owner and the Contractor have unit line item cost estimating capability. It is generally regarded as “best practice” and may even be a regulatory requirement that the Owner does their own internal estimate (sometimes referred to as an Independent Government Estimate – IGE).  Some Owners for specific forms of IDIQ, such as JOC for example,  may elect to “outsource” or subcontract the JOC program to a third party for a fee (typically a percentage of the overall JOC program annually).  In this instance the third party acts as an “owner’s agent” and works with the Contractors directly, vs. Owner “hands-on”  participation. The latter is not recommend, nor consistent with “pure” JOC program implementation. It may however be the only option for Owners with limited technical estimating and/or project/program management capabilities.

Additionally, multiple awards are forms of design-build for complex projects, typically $750,000 to $5 million. Single awards involve minimum design for non-complex projects that typically range from $2,000 to $750,000. However multi-year JOC/SABER programs can easily exceed $300 million.  Many JOC/SABER and IDIQ contacts involve a base year and three or four year options. This means that the owner/contractor relationship is long term, with no need to re-solicit for five years, a potential benefit for all parties.

Construction IDIQ contracts provide a streamlined means to complete projects with benefits for both the government ‘/ public agency (DOD, non-DOD Federal Government, State/County/Local Government, Airports, Education, Healthcare, and the commercial business (Contractor/AE).

National Construction Contracts and Law Survey – UK – 2012

NBS National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012

by Adrian Malleson
Research and Analysis Manager, RIBA Enterprises (Source: http://www.thenbs.com/topics/ContractsLaw/articles/nbsNationalConstructionContractsLawSurvey2012.asp?utm_source=eNews-Weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2012-07-09)

From March to April 2012,  NBS a survey about contracts and legal issues within the UK construction industry.  to understand, among other things:

  • The different contracts and procurement methods being used
  • At what point in the process contracts are signed
  • The number and kinds of disputes taking place
  • How frequently partnering or collaborative working are used in construction projects.

To help the survey get industry wide representation more than 20 industry bodies, including the RIBA, assisted by getting their members to take part. Over 1,000 responses from across the industry were received.  This cross industry participation has meant that, for the first time, the UK now has had a broad based, independent survey of these areas. The responses weren’t just from architects and other consultants: clients and contractors took part too and the report breaks down responses by each group.
The findings give a full and at times startling picture of the UK construction industry’s relationship with contract and law.

In some ways, the industry remains rather traditional.  Collaboration, team integration and partnering have, at best, only been partially realised.

When we look at the contracts the industry uses, we see that traditional forms of contract still dominate. Sixty per cent of respondents tell us that the JCT Contracts are the ones they use most often, and 72 per cent of people used JCT Contracts at least once in the last year. That said, the NEC Contracts, associated more with non-traditional, collaborative working and procurement, have a firm place in the industry. Sixteen per cent tell us they use them most often and 29 per cent have used them at least once in the last year. For standard forms of contract, JCT and NEC dominate; together they are used more than all other standard contract types combined.

That said, “bespoke” contracts are widely used too; almost one quarter of respondents had used them in at least one project in the last year. Twenty years ago, the Latham Report concluded: “Endlessly refining existing conditions of contract will not solve adversarial problems. Public and private sector clients should begin to phase out bespoke documents“. That “phasing out” is turning out to be a long process – but one we’ll be able to track with subsequent surveys.

The adoption of electronic working also shows the traditional ways of working still remain. While we continue to envisage an electronic future of BIM orientated, collaborative working, more than 40 per cent of consultants and clients are still not using electronic tendering at all. There’s work to be done.

The report also gives an understanding of the number of disputes: both the perceived trend in the number of disputes in the industry and the number of disputes actually gone into by respondents.

Ninety-two per cent of the respondents agreed that the number of disputes in the sectors had either increased or stayed at the same level, with the current state of the economy being most often described as the cause. This somewhat dark assessment is borne out by almost one quarter of those taking part in the survey having been involved in a dispute during 2011.

It’s significant that 49 per cent of contractors who completed the survey tell us that “poor specification” is a “most difficult or recurrent issue” leading to dispute.

Together, the issues people gave as the causes of dispute make clear the need for jointly owned, standardized information. A clear information model including tight specification and variance tracking can help prevent legal action later.

So, the overall picture that emerges is one of an industry that still makes use of traditional methods but which sees the place for more innovation.

In many of the comments people made when completing the survey we could see a real desire for construction to be a collaborative, team-based enterprise where extra value is generated through cooperation. We hope to be moving towards a more collaborative industry. This move towards collaboration goes hand in hand with the move towards shared, co-owned information as well as in the choices of contracts and working methods.

One of the most, if not the most, significant impediments to true team working and collaboration is legal dispute whether actual, threatened or envisaged. The survey uncovered these disputes are disruptive, expensive and not uncommon. That’s why from the outset, projects need standardized, shared information models that are easy to update, maintain and act upon. These need to clearly delineate where risk and responsibility lie. That’s not to say the solution is just a technical one, or one of keeping records, though doing these things well can only help. Any information model, any discharge of a contract, can only be as successful as the team that creates and uses it.

National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012

Hope you enjoy reading the full report.

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A Framework for Efficient Life-cycle Management of Facilities