Integrated Project Delivery (What Is It and When to Use It)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 19, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Completing construction projects on time and on budget might involve a method like integrated project delivery (IPD). Depending on what project owners, designers, and construction teams contractually agree to complete, IPD might optimize communication, reduce costs, and ease tasks overall. If you're interested in using IPD for your next construction project, learning how to assess a project for its viability with this method might help you start.

In this article, we define what integrated project delivery is, describe the components of it, list several pros and cons of using it, and determine when to consider it.

What is integrated project delivery?

Integrated project delivery is a method of project efficiency with the involvement of all participants as its central principle. It brings together professionals, business structures, practices, and resources into an approach for project completion. When properly overseen, it accounts for factors like risk management, waste reduction, and productivity. It's used for completing construction projects and relies primarily on communication and technology to leverage the available aspects of a project. Once assembled, teams can identify their diverse talents, qualifications, knowledge, and skill backgrounds to approach construction in a collective way.

IPD is in contrast to methods for project delivery that rely on specialized teams and discrete development stages. Fragmented project delivery methods may end in failure due to poor management of budget, resources, time, or personnel. A more traditional method might involve an owner only working with a design team or leaving instructions for engineers to modify or stress-test for builders. IPD is an invitation for all teams, including owners, to collaborate on each aspect.

Related: How to Become a Construction Manager in 7 Steps

Components IPD

Relying on the professionals with specialized expertise to flexibly and consistently react to problems during development and construction phases is one of the strengths of this model. While there are many members with a variety of specializations who come together to contribute under an IPD model, they likely fit into one of three key areas, including:

Project owners

Project owners are a diverse group. Privately owned companies, municipal organizations, and non-profit organizations all have reasons for commissioning construction projects. They often have vested interest in the project, either because they are investing financially in it or because they own the property. They produce solutions for types of structures or land uses, including initial design proposals for other teams to consider .

Design teams

Under the IPD model, design teams benefit a project by using their experience and judgement in combination with the vision of project owners and the resources of construction teams. Design teams might consist of architects, engineers, and a variety of other designers. City planners and ecologists may also involve themselves if the project requires comprehensive approvals. The backgrounds of accomplished design teams or individuals are relevant factors in construction projects.

Related: How to Become an Architect

Construction teams

Construction teams comprise contractors and sub-contractors. They may include brick-layers, roofers, heavy equipment operators, electricians, or a variety of artisan craftspeople. On-site project managers and forepersons carry out the plans of a collaborative process with owners and designers. They also have strategic input informed by their backgrounds, resources, and industry connections. Other construction team members often include technicians, painters, safety inspectors, and delivery teams.

Related: Understanding Industrial vs. Commercial Construction

Pros and cons of IPD

There are many benefits to using IPD. Knowing what some of them are and understanding the drawbacks can help in applying this method effectively. To maximize the pros, it's worthwhile to know some of the cons. A well-executed project involves compromise and knowing when to commit to unforeseen opportunities. For this reason, planning may involve a review of these pros and cons. Here are some of the pros and cons that may help you decide if IPD is right for your project:

Pros

Here's a list of pros to consider when construction projects require careful thought and planning:

  • Cross-departmental collaboration: Collaboration across all project departments can encourage fast replies to questions and requests. It may also produce unexpected answers from teams with unique experiences.

  • Technical accuracy: When construction teams work directly with design teams, inconsistencies between materials and blueprints are less frequent.

  • Maximize productivity: The factors of a project include time, quality, cost, and resources. Understanding all four and balancing them appropriately can maximize productivity.

  • Faster project turnaround: IPD features close decisive collaboration between diverse teams so that they utilize their strengths in a mutually supportive way. This might produce realistic timelines that don't need extensions.

  • Fewer project costs: Last-minute changes are costly and so are fixes or repairs. For this reason, fewer changes may mean lower costs.

  • Improved project outcomes: The controlled execution of a construction project may end in a high-quality outcome simply because sound methods lead to sound results.

  • Fewer requests, changes, and project claims: When a project has clarity from the beginning, teams don't conflict over differing project-related beliefs.

  • Team engagement through incentive pools: In IPD, an excellent project might entitle extra profits to all teams involved. These collective goals and incentives create mutual understanding and shared purpose in a project.

Cons

Recognizing potential challenges that result from IPD can help you predict the consequences of this method in your own construction projects. Here's a list of challenges that may result from the IPD method:

  • Overcommitment: Project teams and departments may take on more than others. This can cause slower execution and add difficulties to coordination.

  • Slow startup: IPD can start slow because it's plan-intensive. As a strategy to minimize this risk, you can learn more about the startup process so that a project is more likely to finish when expected.

  • Inexperienced team members: Teams with new members may lack the backgrounds and job-site experience needed to begin and finish projects at the standard of the collective. Knowing ahead of time who's new may help distribute support where it's needed most.

Related: Understanding Project Management Methodology (With Examples)

When to consider IPD

Some construction project teams work well with other models, while some might benefit greatly from IPD. Understanding when IPD is the right strategy depends on key factors that support its strengths and depend on participation of the teams involved. There are possible challenges with the IPD model, but its emphasis on a diversity of approaches and open channels of communication makes it suitable for many projects. Here are some key factors to look for if you're deciding to assess the risks involved with using IPD for your construction project:

  • Complexity: Complex construction projects that rely on experts in multiple fields might find IPD's tendency to encourage overlapping strategies useful. If the completion of a project depends on raw materials from various manufacturing sectors, the measure of a project's success might depend on IPD.

  • Right project: One construction project might be straight-forward while another might have a team with a method already in place.

  • Availability: If teams benefit from cross-team communication, project owners may consider the way IPD projects make all documentation, specifications, and essential data that can support the collaborative process available to all teams.

  • Networks: If you're the sort of construction specialist or project organizer with access to a large, diverse network of colleagues, locating the human resources aspect of a delivery model isn't a large challenge. IPD requires a wide variety of experts, and the faster a functional team comes together, the sooner collaborative planning can begin.

  • Scale: The smaller a project is, the more easily individuals might manage it without a comprehensive method. IPD may slow down or overwhelm teams that aren't at risk of overload.

  • Training: IPD training can prepare teams for leveraging the opportunities IPD creates. If your teams are knowledgeable, or have time to train in IPD methods, it might be the smart decision.

  • Trust: Those who know they work well with others and have trusting bonds resulting from shared professional experiences already use the core principle of IPD.

  • Resources: Excess of resources is useful if you want to want to use an integrated, wholistic contracting method. Knowing what you have and when you have it means not having to guess when a project stops and starts.

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