Driving the Industry Forward: Collaborative Approaches, Innovation, and Technology

Recently, Richard Kimber, DPR managing director for Singapore and Southeast Asia, spoke during a Project Management Institute (PMI) session on the organization’s new construction initiative, the “PMI Construction Professional in Built Environment Projects” (CPBEP). As a PMI global expert panel member for the industry-driven initiative, Kimber shared, “I became involved because I wanted to help make a difference. Working with representatives from the world’s leading construction companies and institutes and being able to share my knowledge and experiences, this was that opportunity.”

The seven-course CPBEP certification is in development and aims to improve the performance of the construction industry and how projects are delivered in the future. Kimber is among several experienced practitioners helping to drive the direction and outcomes of the course, digging into industry pain points and working with the team towards finding solutions.

The PMI vision for global construction is ‘Advancing the project economy through reskilling and upskilling of project managers across the globe and addressing the key challenges faced by skill shortages. “Their vision really resonates with me, and aligns with DPR’s focus on upskilling, staff training, and continual improvement via access to learning and development platforms,” Kimber said. “At DPR we are always looking at better ways of working together as a team of teams to drive the industry forward and improve project delivery with greater efficiency and more predictability.”

Kimber shared further insight on several topics included in the CPBEP certification courses.

Construction workers on active design build project in Singapore
DPR is currently delivering a design & build facility project in Singapore deploying BIM and VDC technologies for a remote client. Courtesy of Nikki Reyes

How important is technology in helping to efficiently deliver projects, and for project managers (PMs) to know how to use it effectively?

PMs need to have an understanding of the technology that is available and should have the skills to create a technology implementation plan as part of every project execution plan. PMs also need to understand the benefits and risks of the application of technology for project delivery and particularly platforms that allow 4D and 5D.

The CPBEP expert panel agreed unanimously that PMs must learn to use the various PM software applications that are available to help manage task lists, schedules, file sharing and DWG and RFI management, communication, and reporting. For example, DPR implements CMiC software across all operations to create project workflows, track and flag changes, and communicate internally with all stakeholders. There are obvious benefits to using CMiC and other construction technology platforms, but most who use it are contracting firms, not client-appointed professionals. As an industry we need to stop overlooking opportunities for using such technologies.

Contract and risk management is a topic that has been talked about for years, but very little progress has been made to address shared risk in project delivery. How can the industry improve in this area?

There’s a mindset in the industry that risk needs to be borne by the contractor, rather than allocate the risk to the party in the best position to manage and control it. There needs to be a move away from the traditional design-bid-build delivery hard bid model that does not promote collaboration, innovation, prefab and constructability. All too often, there is a rush to build and many lump sum projects experience scope gaps, cost overruns and schedule delays.

Alternative collaborative approaches like design-build are available that engage the general contractor at the same time as the design team. The contractor is involved in constructability reviews and target value design, avoiding the ‘design, then price’ situation where it’s common to find a project over budget and in need of value engineering or project spec cutting.

Integrated project delivery (IPD), although not new, has seen increased popularity. This agreement between at least the owner, primary designer, and primary builder allows early conceptualization of the project and seek to reduce errors and waste and minimize redesign problems. Each party’s success is directly tied to the performance of other team members.

Leaning toward IPD for your next project? Read this first.

What can you share about DPR’s IPD experience?

DPR has been one of the early-adopting general contractors that has worked under an IPD agreement and our lean construction experience has helped pioneer the way for increasing their use in the industry, particularly in the US.

DPR was part of a working group to create a platform for contracting IPD projects and helped develop Consensus Docs 300 which is a standard multiparty IPD agreement. This document has been in use for approximately 10 years and was initially developed for healthcare projects.

Working collaboratively under a traditional project delivery approach becomes more difficult as uncertainty and project complexity increases, and we’ve found great success in unlocking creativity, driving reliability, successfully delivering complex capital projects, and delivering predictable outcomes using the IPD method. The lessons learned in the U.S. can absolutely be applied in markets around the world.

Learn more about our IPD and design-to-build experience.

What measures do you feel will exemplify ‘success’ in the continual improvement of the construction industry?

First, PM understanding of the different forms of contracts, risks, and opportunities, and with that they will be better equipped to make better decisions. And from a technology standpoint, reskilling and upskilling of PMs is certainly going to make an impact. Customers insisting that the PM assigned to their projects is a certified PMP will be a must if we are going to see real improvements in the construction industry.

I also hope to see more use of early contractor involvement agreements and progressive, open book design and build agreements that allow for collaboration. In Singapore we are the Design and Builder on two Biotech facilities using AIA 141 and standard forms in Singapore and SE Asia do not promote collaboration. Many owners are unaware of all their options and the background, advantages, and consequences of different delivery methods. It is a goal to see PM professionals extend their learning deeply beyond hard bid and lump sum contracting.

As an evolving industry, we should always pride ourselves on continuous learning and growth.