Lean Thinking

Sustainable IPD Relationships: Building Certainty & Enhancing Capital Efficiency Beyond a Single Project

Author-Andrew-Rhodesby Andrew RhodesJun. 26, 2023

In today's fast-paced and ever-evolving design and construction industry, it is crucial to find ways to improve efficiency while maintaining quality standards. With teams formed and dismantled quickly as they tackle monumental challenges and deliver impressive structures, Southland has leveraged Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) as a method of collaboration to maximize value, increase efficiency, and drive innovation. 

Over the past five years, we have been working with the same owner and partners on multiple projects, resulting in decreased onboarding time, increased capital efficiency, and lasting relationships in a more enjoyable work environment. This collaborative approach maximizes value and efficiency while reducing waste and rework, laying the foundation for a more successful and sustainable construction industry. 

By implementing Lean IPD, our team has optimized five key strategies that have significantly contributed to our success in project delivery. 

Building trust
In Lean IPD, high-performing teams are built on a foundation of trust and respect, which takes deliberate time and effort to develop. Team building activities are important, but trust is ultimately built by weathering challenging projects together. When the same project team moves from one project to the next, that shared culture of trust and respect goes with them. While additional members may be added to the initial team, the process of integration is much easier because the culture already exists. This results in a noticeably reduced ramp-up time on subsequent projects, allowing teams to perform at a high level from day one. 

Leveraging transparency

In a successful Lean IPD team, transparency amongst the team drives further success. Budgets, cost projections, risks, and opportunities are openly discussed, and team members are expected to challenge each other for the benefit of the project. This level of transparency is crucial because a team cannot solve a problem it doesn't know exists. Trust is closely linked to transparency, and it is easier to be open and honest with teammates who will provide honest feedback and help to overcome challenges. Skeptics often become supporters when they see the process working effectively. As the team continues to work together, they can become even more transparent.

Aligning business practices

The use of an Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA) by the IPD team ensures a consistent financial framework across all projects, while also creating a relatively flat leadership structure, giving all partners a voice. In addition to the IFOA, the team can rely on a set of comprehensive Conditions of Satisfaction to maintain alignment, which includes both project specifics as well as overarching objectives that carry over from one project to the next. Through these aligned business practices and a culture of trust, respect, and transparency, the IPD team can operate as a unified, cohesive company rather than a collection of individual partners. This approach ultimately leads to the team's sustained success throughout its lifecycle.

Compounding success

Integrating Lean IPD techniques can result in small, incremental improvements that build upon one another from project to project. For instance, to create a baseline for success on a new project, the team can continue to leverage great ideas from previous projects, resulting in compounding success. A "best athlete" approach helps enable resource optimization, filling a role with the best person, irrespective of their company. Ultimately, these Lean IPD techniques lead to better multi-trade solutions, decreased design time, greater efficiency, and improved Lean implementation, culminating in the team's sustained success over time.

Supporting individual success  

Not only have companies part of the Lean IPD team enjoyed positive project outcomes, but individual team members have also benefited greatly. The consensus among most team members is that this approach to work is more collaborative, fulfilling, and enjoyable. Through this collaborative approach, lasting professional and personal relationships have blossomed, and a desire to work together moving forward has been ignited. More than just improved working environments for individuals, the Lean IPD approach has proven to enhance the certainty of outcomes and capital efficiency, delivering better value to owners. The compounding success of the team has also elevated industry standards, generating innovation and producing exceptional results.

Given the fast-paced and ever-changing nature of the industry, a collaborative approach to work is crucial in maintaining quality standards, improving efficiency, and propelling innovation. Lean IPD has revolutionized project delivery processes and will continue to elevate industry standards, foster innovation, and produce remarkable outcomes.