One of the many overlooked benefits of collaborative delivery is the flexibility offered through the various approaches. In particular, utility and government agencies with limited resources for water infrastructure projects are finding that collaborative approaches such as progressive design-build delivery give them more flexibility to optimize not only the price, but also the overall result and experience for the owner agency and its ratepayers. In the recent article published in Water Innovations, and included in Water Online’s e-newsletter, “Collaborative Approaches that Deliver Flexibility” features a comparison of conventional delivery to various forms of collaborative delivery, with a focus on flexibility. Of the many benefits, adding more flexibility to how projects are evaluated, planned, designed, and ultimately delivered can help fill the gap between available and needed resources. Because every project or program has different drivers, stakeholder interests, and project conditions, rigidly adhering to a single approach for program or project delivery limits both the effectiveness of a solution and the value of the solution for ratepayers. Water system owners have an opportunity to become more flexible through collaborative delivery models, allowing owners to make best-value solution decisions through increased flexibility and improved information. These models offer varying degrees of flexibility and carry associated benefits as well as challenges. But in each case, flexibility is provided through collaborative behavior.
On September 20, 2017, all eyes were on Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria made its way across the island and left devastation along its path. A crippling economic crisis and population decrease already painted an uncertain future for the people of Puerto Rico. Two major back-to-back hurricanes later, questions about the future turned to questions about survival. No water. No power. No communications. Scarce supplies. While conditions are improving, there are still thousands of people without power, water, and a safe sustainable infrastructure.
There are varying definitions of a public-private partnership (P3) in the North American water sector, and each definition can impact the design-build contractor and their commercial relationships.
The power of the collaborative characteristics in design-build delivery is never more evident than during the startup and commissioning phases of a project. Raise your hand if you can share a story about a startup that went wrong in a design-bid-build (DBB) contract — I bet most of you have your hands up!
Last week I reviewed a presentation featuring design-build concepts and methodology. Actually, I had to read it twice, because most of the terms in the document are no longer being used – and I was stymied as to how to approach the author with constructive feedback. While startling coming from a government official, it is not an unfamiliar situation. I hear similar outdated language and address questions about the terms used for design-build delivery methods at WDBC’s education sessions all the time.
The Capital Regional District (CRD), located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, is currently in the process of implementing a major wastewater treatment program that includes construction of a new 108-ML/d secondary wastewater treatment plant, two major pumping stations, two large diameter force mains, a 20-km residuals pipeline, a wet weather attenuation tank, and biosolids resource recovery facility. This program culminates a five-year effort in which technical planning was completed by Stantec and district representatives.
WDBC’s 2017 research reports not only on the wider acceptance and use of collaborative project delivery methods for water and wastewater projects, but also that the driving growth in this market depends on a sustainable and concerted approach to education. It further reveals that successful design-build and construction management at-risk projects are structured to encourage improved government regulations, accessible funding, innovative solutions, and arguably the most valuable component -- industry best practices. However, attaining real success necessitates deeper commitments from all stakeholders above the status quo of traditional delivery. These committed stakeholders – defined as project “champions” – are the various organization leaders who embrace collaborative methods and make it their mission to share and promote these practices with others and persevere to improve and drive industry best practices into every project.
One of the main benefits of construction management at-risk projects is that the contractor is involved – not only in the construction phase but also the design phase. This benefit is particularly advantageous when the project’s construction budget has limitations. In addition, with the early engagement of the CMAR firm during the design phase, a value engineering (VE) process can be employed to save valuable owner resources.
Collaborative project delivery creates a terrific opportunity for all members of the project team to work together in a cooperative, trusting, and transparent environment. Unfortunately, this opportunity can be quickly squandered if project leadership loses sight of what it takes to create and maintain this collaborative environment. It is inevitable that something will go wrong at some point on the project. When that happens, the strength of the bonds among the team will be tested. Will project leadership ultimately resort to protecting their individual interests – e.g., “It’s not my fault and not my problem”? Or will project leadership find a way to rise above it, solve the issue cooperatively, and move forward?
Topics: Collaborative Project Delivery
A common misconception is that DBB is the most cost-effective approach to designing and building a public works project. A majority of this misconception comes from a comparison at a point in time on the project that may not accurately capture all aspects of the total project cost.