While many hospital construction projects across the country have used an integrated approach to delivery, including early involvement of the construction manager, it’s not nearly as common for a formal integrated project delivery (IPD) contract to be in place.

And while those contracts usually outline the shared risk between partners—generally including the owner, architect, construction manager, and possibly subcontractors—it’s what isn’t in the contract that’s proven beneficial to the team building the new Lawrence + Memorial (L+M) Hospital cancer center in Waterford, Conn.

In a recent chat with the folks at L+M,  Suffolk Construction, and TRO Jung|Brannen (TROJB), the team shared some insight with me on how their project is unfolding.

With completion scheduled for July, the project and all those working on it have fallen into an IPD groove.

A commitment to tracking tasks and holding team members accountable hasn’t created a contentious environment, but instead it’s one where finger-pointing is replaced by recognizing someone might be held up by another task not being done, seeking a solution, and resolving it together.

“It’s a whole different atmosphere and environment in that respect,” notes Brenda Bullied, facilities project manager, L+M, of how the IPD project compares to those completed through a more traditional delivery process.

And working under that system has never been contractually required.

“Just having that in the contract wouldn’t have the same results, if you don’t have all three entities committed to each other in the process,” says Josh DiGloria, senior project manager for Suffolk.

And that’s precisely what is outlined in the contract.

The IPD contract for the L+M project states that team members aren’t to be chosen based upon costs alone, but rather by characteristics like their commitment to the project and openness to flexibility.

To meet that end, the team says members must be willing to collaborate and work closely together. And commitment to the process must be made by the owner, too. Bullied recognized the time involved that might not be on a traditional design-bid-build project and that an owner must be willing to not put a foot down on an issue but rather understand what’s happening at a given time and be flexible to options available.

But, she notes, “You also need people who will stand for their own agenda, too.” For example, if the designer knows that a decision the team makes isn’t prudent in the architectural world, that person needs to speak up and bring that knowledge to the table.

And while the team has achieved what may be an ideal IPD work process, they note that there are times when a member may fall behind or negatively impact the ultimate goal of the project. In that case, the project management team (PMT) steps in for what they dubbed “watchful guidance” to makes sure tasks are accomplished as needed.

Pamela Mace, senior associate/project manager, TROJB, notes that in other delivery environments, issues come to light much later and can possibly ignite a blame game. And what also shouldn’t be overlooked is that the PMT knows when something’s fallen behind, because team members feel comfortable raising their hands. And sometimes it’s to point out their own mistakes.  , , notes,

“It’s OK to question your own contribution in this environment—‘hey, I think I made a bad call here, what can we do to fix it?’” Bullied says.

To read the other blogs in this series, please see: