Collaboration from concept to construction

Collaboration should be at the heart of every engineering project. Brian Donaldson, group business development authority at Boulting Group, explains the benefits of integrated project delivery and the collaborative culture it brings to engineering projects in the life sciences sector

On complex projects, a more collaborative atmosphere can result in many benefits

In recent years, traditional engineering methods have become less common within life sciences. Instead of contractors working separately on a particular area, new collaborative methods such as integrated project delivery (IPD) are increasing in popularity. IPD is a collaborative alliance that aims to integrate the best aspects of people, systems, business structures and practices to optimise the results of a project. Each collaborators interests, objectives and practices can be aligned by using the team-based approach. Using this method every individual, team or business will become equally invested, sharing risk and profit in a fair and transparent way.

Life sciences is a large, diverse industry. From healthcare facilities to pharmaceutical labs, buildings used for life science applications often have unique requirements. This may involve meeting codes and standards, such as Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) Standards and relevant Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) regulations and standards.

These requirements often mean the construction process can become complicated and lengthy. In these situations, it is more important than ever to ensure the environment encourages and strengthens collaboration between all parties.

Client collaboration

The use of an IPD system means the client is also part of the team. They can ensure profit margins are determined at an early stage and understand the role and current job status of every person and company working on the project.

Target costs are often set when the project is being managed with IPD. A target cost is a realistic budget decided by everybody involved, which can take into account changes and challenges.

For the client, this often means a smoother, coherent experience. The process encourages correct behaviours and communication. The investment each contractor has in the overall project means it is delivered to meet both the business objective and intended budget. As every member of the project delivery group takes shared responsibility for the job, risk is also shared proportionately. Alongside transparency this means contractors, engineers and designers donít need to worry about external services being in place on time, or about any necessary changes reducing their profit.

Brian Donaldson

The culture produced by the proportional splitting of risk is one of the crucial reasons for IPDís success. It brings about a communal atmosphere, which makes every member of the team feel secure. Instead of worrying about their individual roles and responsibilities, their primary concern becomes how to make the project the best it can be.

The sharing of risk forces collaborative behaviours, which is a large benefit for those working in life sciences, who often place more importance on the value of a project rather than the total expenditure. The communal atmosphere is enhanced by the use of communal office spaces, where possible. This is a popular option as it allows for enhanced communication between teams, therefore providing the perfect structure for collaboration.

When space restrictions donít allow for the ideal shared office space, another option is to provide a common space in which everybody can meet, even if they donít work from this space day to day.

Promoting innovation

Transparency can ensure the project runs smoothly and reduces the risk of going over budget. The resulting increased sense of security means every part of the project delivery group can focus on their specialism.

By giving each contractor the freedom to explore the project, they can use their specialist expertise to ensure their section of the overall project meets client expectations. This level of freedom benefits all sectors, but particularly where the expectations and requirements may be niche, such as in the life sciences.

Due to IPDís possibilities for teamwork and communal atmosphere, these specialists can also continually consult with others working on the project, ensuring each contractor is working together to maximise the potential and value of the project. In addition to this, collaboration allows for necessary changes to be made without negatively impacting other contractors.

Transparency is a major benefit of integrated project delivery. It produces a sense of security as the involved parties have access to all information concerning the job, from equipment costs, right through to budgeting. In addition to encouraging a pleasant working atmosphere, this approach means different contractors can work efficiently, often resulting in reduced waste and increased productivity. For example, if contractors realise they are using the same material as one another, they can order enough for both parties, potentially reducing waiting time and costs.

IPD encourages a collaborative atmosphere and harmonious working environment, among other practical benefits. Working together in this way often leads to smoother run projects, which end up closer to budget.

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