October 10, 2019

DPR shares these indicators with the goal of aligning project collaborators and integration in successful project delivery, and designing and building better, high-performing buildings. Photo courtesy of Rien van Rijthoven

Healthcare construction projects are inherently complex, challenging and often downright difficult. DPR Construction embraces these challenges as opportunities to advance the company’s learning and continual improvement.

DPR took an in-depth look at seven highly technical, complex hospital projects completed in California between 2011 to 2018 which, resulted in the Rx for a Successful Healthcare Project study. The goal? Identify what makes a healthcare project a success and what could be done better.

DPR engaged a third-party consultant, Site Plus, to conduct independent interviews with owners, design partners and internal DPR team members from the projects being studied. Both commonalities and diversities existed, resulting in a strong sampling of healthcare projects. Consistent patterns were found in the successful projects, including a high level of collaboration and integration, a very engaged owner, and an environment promoting continual improvement over time.

Participants of the study were asked to "define a successful project." Interestingly, answers concentrated on or included "people" rather than just project metrics as an important element. Building on the successful collaboration and integration of project teams and needs, the study suggested that the three quality pillars of budget, time and quality could all be delivered successfully, challenging an often-touted industry myth to the contrary.

Participants were also asked, "What words come to mind when you think of this project?" Responses evoked highlights—and lowlights. The most frequently mentioned words were: challenging, fun, collaborative, trust and complex. Ultimately, themes, patterns and key differentiators were identified from the interviews and consolidated into nine key indicators for project success.

When all nine key indicators are present, the study found there is much more likelihood of an aligned and resilient team who will work collaboratively to overcome challenges and be successful. DPR shares these indicators with the goal of aligning project collaborators and integration in successful project delivery, and designing and building better, high-performing buildings.

9 Key Indicators for Successful Healthcare Construction:

1. Truly Engaged Owner: More engagement leads directly to success. Successful projects have a hands-on owner present, with the ability to make timely decisions and then keep to those decisions.

2. Project Mission and Value: Establish collective goals as a project team. Develop the purpose, vision, project goals, and key performance indicators at the onset of the project. In healthcare, the vision is typically about the higher purpose of the patient and the project as a community benefit.

3. Co-Locate (The Big Room): Team member committment from the beginning. The study revealed the "Big Room" enhanced a common understanding of values and goals, a foundational culture, the tenacity to keep improving, and the ability to make definitive decisions quickly.

4. Right Team/Right Mix: Assess team dynamics and recalibrate along the way. Experience may win the project, but it's the right people on the team who will lead to the greatest success.

5. Act Swiftly When Necessary: Be ready to change and act quickly. A person may have certain attributes that contribute to one of the project goals, but if they don't embrace ALL project goals in an open and unrestricted manner, it will set up barriers.

6. Invest in the Team: Tailor team building and purpose to specific team dynamics. Ongoing team building, both formal and informal, does lead to better team dynamics. The successful projects made the time to pause and recalibrate.

7. Share Knowledge and Set Goals: Successful projects push to be better. If you aren't keeping score, it's just practice. Add the priority of continuously getting better by asking, "Is there a better way?"

8. Lean Construction Methods: Use a discipline of best practices. Tools like Pull Planning, Target Value Design and A3/Choosing by Advantages Decision Making are some of the items used in successful projects in varying degrees.

9. Authorities Having Jurisdiction: Understand, accept and work with regulations. Regardless of project location or authority having jurisdiction, inspectors are key to the process. Understand their requirements and make them a part of the team.

To read the entire study, please click here.