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Collaboration At the Center of Design-Build Projects

Merriam-Webster defines collaboration as “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” Sounds easy, right? So why point this out? I share this to emphasize the fact that an idea can sound very simple, but in practice be more complicated. However, when used as a positive methodology to promote success for all parties, project collaboration can work and produces tremendous results if executed properly.

In traditional design-bid-build construction, the owner and design team work together to develop the scope, program, and design of the project before it goes out to bid. Then the general contractor, subcontractors, and material suppliers build per the specified design.

There’s often a lapse in coordination between the design and construction teams due to the timing.

Design-build projects, on the other hand, are the epitome of collaboration. All team members must work in parallel together towards a common goal to meet the project objectives.

A Collaborative Approach: Design-Build

In design-build, the design and construction teams work together closely during the entire lifecycle of a project. This minimizes many of the issues around material detailing, availability, installation, and overall timing because the decisions are happening when the project is being built rather than months, or even years, down the road.

To truly be successful in this delivery method, it’s key that owners and general contractors select their team as early as possible. Imagine that when conversations start with the roofing subcontractor the masonry and glazing subcontractors are sitting around the same table, discussing project schedule and communicating on potential issues that may arise, preventing headaches down the road.

By building the team early, everyone is held accountable to work together and has a vested interest in seeing the project succeed. It encourages project team members to work together to find creative solutions, builds trust, and ultimately saves time and money on a project.

The Collaborative Process

The collaborative process of the design-build approach utilizes and encourages teamwork, develops deeper levels of cooperation, stimulates information sharing, enhances transparent communication between project members and improves the overall quality and project completion.

True collaboration occurs when a diverse group of partners work together to achieve that elusive goal: a project that meets, and even exceeds, the requirements of the scope of work. When it all comes together, all parties – the owner, design team, builders, and end users – can appreciate the benefit of the collective critical thinking.

The results of true collaboration are immediately apparent, including accelerated schedule, custom products that can be manufactured only because the team asked the right questions, an installation method that made the field work occur without typical errors or re-work. It's great for the people involved, too – a diverse team working together results in a safer work environment due to shared planning that wouldn’t have taken place without the collaborative conversations.

Anyone who has participated in a collaborative project can attest to the benefits of this approach. They realize in both a business and intrinsic relationship sense that the results far exceed normal expectations.

Work with a Business Development Representative

To get the best results from a collaborative team, it’s critical to fully utilize each person’s strengths. One key player within these teams that is often a vastly underutilized resource is a business development representative. Business development pros have a vast network of resources immediately available that extend outside of their organizations. By nature they are relaters, communicators, critical thinkers, connectors, and creatives.

Business development pros have been in the industry for a long time – call it seasoning, experience, or otherwise – they’re accustomed to the ebb and flow of value creation, so let them help! There are times when that old tried-and-true system or product just isn’t the best way to solve the challenge. With their array of relationships, business development professionals can reach out to their network to explore options and find alternate solutions you otherwise would have overlooked.

Let's Collaborate

If collaboration is approached properly, the benefits can be critical to a project. These include incurring lower project costs, running a project more efficiently, producing a building with higher overall quality, working under safer conditions, and resulting in a satisfied owner.

Seek out the business development professionals in your project team. They are an invaluable connector to the knowledge base that can push a project’s results into a higher level of success. Not sure how to get started with design-build, or ready to talk to an experienced collaborator about your next project? Schedule a consultation with us, we're here to help.

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