“How do you successfully effectuate a design-build project? Our city has done several design build construction projects which have resulted in delays, lawsuits, and other problems. Clearly, we are not doing something correctly!”
Questions like this one show up in our inbox with increasing frequency. One reason for these situations may be when engineering and design firms, who are not part of the Water Design-Build Council, profess to performing design-build delivery, but do not follow “best practices.” The other is the owner’s knowledge levels about design-build delivery and its variables and the best practices to employ.
WDBC’s mission is to equip owners with the correct tools so that they are prepared for the work ahead and are not subjected to these types of experiences. Another purpose of the WDBC is to establish and promote best practices among the engineering and construction industry so that design-build delivery is accomplished successfully.
However, the question presented above is fundamental to a core issue that typically plagues owner organizations. As reported in WDBC’s Research Report on “Lessons Learned,” the internal preparation process is one of the most important steps that organizations neglect.
Without this preparation, the internal procurement and the management of the design-builder often become frustrating with unforeseen incidents and unplanned situations – resulting in the above referenced delays, lawsuits, and other situations.
For example, in the early stages of a project, the typical priority of a government entity is to concentrate on getting the desired water or wastewater project approved within the capital improvement programs and supported by officials. The next step is characteristically followed by organizing internal efforts to get a consultant or contractor on board.
But in between the approval of the CIP project and the procurement of a consultant/contractor exists a series of significant activities that more clearly define the roadmap to a successful project. It is within this period that critical decisions are made about the organization’s priorities – resulting in a clear direction for the project – and what is expected of the selected contractor.
In response to owners’ requests for information on to how to address these situations, the WDBC added a new chapter to the 4th edition of the Water and Wastewater Design-Build Handbook. Chapter 1 now provides guidance for owners to establish their roadmap by addressing the internal and external factors that affect water and wastewater projects in today’s environment. It includes directions on how to build an internal understanding and consensus about a project’s goals and priorities, as well as how to use those findings to make effective decisions.
The chapter is intended to help an owner and its staff determine what information it needs for decision-making, as well as what to include in procurement documents to help proposing firms understand the owner’s expectations, project priorities, and technical requirements. The guidance in this chapter is intended to help owners accomplish their goals: an efficient procurement and a successful project— using “best practices” – so that the problems described above do not occur!
And in further response to the question above, yes -- the WDBC does have, and makes available through its education and training programs, the resources and tools to help accomplish this goal for both owners and industry practitioners.