The Power of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)

By Tom Leonidas, P.E.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) has become a powerful alternative to traditional design-bid-build.  IPD is all about team members collaborating on a common set of project goals; and to optimize results. IPD takes a lot of the pain associated with bid projects in terms of dealing with change orders.  The goals are typically to reduce costs and waste, increase value and bring efficiencies in design and construction.  IPD focuses on final value.

Where we see IPD be the most successful is where the process has the following qualities:

All In or All Out

If you choose to use IPD, then you must fully commit and invest in the process.  IPD relies on openness and trust so that team members are sharing and giving their best ideas; and ultimately the best value to the owner.  IPD is a journey and that journey can get rough especially when sorting through scope, budgets and pricing. The team, including the owner needs to stick together, stay committed to IPD and work through the rough spots.  Some owners start talking about ‘bidding’ out the project.  All this does is destroy trust of individual team members.  The level of development of IPD documents is not the same as required for the traditional hard bid process.  Sadly, this path usually results in high change order risk.

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

The owner must clearly define and articulate both big picture and project specific goals and objectives.  The goals should be challenging but achievable; achievable within the financial parameters of the project.  There should be ‘stretch’ goals; those goals that might not seem readily achievable but challenge the team to think outside the norm.  Take the kernels of the best ideas and integrate them into the design.

Communicate and Collaborate

Throughout my career, when I have seen problems occur in a project (no matter what the delivery method, either in design or in construction) it ultimately comes down to a failure in communication.  Somebody makes a change in their design, but doesn’t think about how it might affect others and doesn’t communicate.  People assume that others just know things or they’ll just figure it out.  Communication doesn’t happen by osmosis.  IPD team members need to proactively communicate with each other both in and outside of IPD team meetings.  They need to share ideas about each other’s design approach in order to achieve the best overall end product.  IPD is about creating the best ideas that work to optimize the project.


Communication breeds transparency; transparency breeds trust.  IPD doesn’t work very well without trust.  As both individuals and companies, it is hard for us to let our guard down and ‘trust’ others to look for our individual success.  IPD team members need to have the backs of their team members.  This doesn’t mean covering people’s mistakes and then grumbling about it.  Team members must have enough trust in each other where they can be honest with each other and help each other be accountable for their individual and mutual commitments.


A lot of the project airtime gets focused on solving problems and challenges that are a part of the IPD journey.  But it is equally important to actively and proactively celebrate the IPD team and their accomplishments at points along the journey.  Part of this celebration is taking stock of where the IPD team has been, where they have achieved success and what they could have done better, then feeding those lessons learned back into the IPD process.

There is no one specific playbook or template for an IPD project because every owner and every project has different goals.  But the core set of key values discussed herein are a common denominator of success after having observed many different IPD projects in the last 10 years.

Follow Tom on Twitter @TLeonidas_WH

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  • By When Email Attacks and How to Fight Back - Wood Harbinger on September 27, 2014 at 10:27 am

    […] The centralized database, leveraging lists and a project-based forum interface, is inherently collaborative and comprehensive and can enable true project collaboration and Integrated Project Delivery. […]

  • […] in the firm contributes to the process. We have taken the beneficial collaboration methodology of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and internalized it into our own internal team relationships and […]

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