The Advancement of Standards

This article is included in the Fall 2016 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

What it will take to move the industry ever forward and deliver better outcomes

We all desire more predictable results and outcomes.

One of DPR’s four core values is Ever Forward: “We believe in continual self-initiated change, improvement, learning and the advancement of standards for their own sake.” This core value, combined with our other core values of integrity, enjoyment and uniqueness, has served us well. It has helped sustain our desire to be a progressive and nimble learning organization, where people are empowered to drive continuous improvement for our customers and their projects.

But as we move forward and further dissect the intent of our Ever Forward core value, we must also be mindful of where standards (or the advancement of standards) fit into our entrepreneurial company culture and our customer-centric industry.


As a national provider of construction services, we conducted a survey of our top customers and asked them what was most important and of value to them. What we learned is that our customers desire more predictable outcomes around cost, schedule and quality. They also want our innovation efforts to be focused on being as efficient as possible on the delivery of their projects.

This is where the importance of standards comes into play. Well-crafted standards and proven current best practices (how we like to think of them at DPR) are the basis for improvement and can help set a strong foundation for consistency and reliability. A good example of a standard in our industry is how we measure and value the health and safety of our employees. There is a shared vocabulary around the types of incidents, and an experience modifier rate is an “apples to apples” comparison of all contractors to quantify safety performance.


To attain the types of reliable results we want and are being asked by our customers to achieve and to continue to drive improvement throughout the industry, we all need to change our way of thinking about standards. In a service-based industry such as ours, adopting standards is hard, but standards are a good thing. They can help create clarity, reduce conflict, facilitate collaboration and eliminate waste. They are established best-known methods or practices that should be followed until a better way is discovered, tested and accepted.

At DPR, we understand the challenge of balancing our customer-focused, entrepreneurial culture with standard work practices. We are identifying pockets of excellence and developing current best practices in the areas of preconstruction, cost management, scheduling, production planning and virtual building to help us provide great results on each project. When those best practices are well defined and proven, they become our standards that we scale to provide a consistent level of service to all customers. Our Technology and Innovation Group is also taking a close look at our applications. In an era when computing is cheap and there is an “App” for everything you do, we are starting with the right process and standard first and then finding the best technology solutions to harness the power of information. We are actively looking to standardize on ways we generate, use and share data between applications to provide greater insights and help our customers make better data-driven decisions.

Some will think this is a change to our culture. But DPR has always been a thinking organization, with people willing to learn, change, adapt, move and build it better.

Our customers desire more predictable outcomes. Let’s work together to set new standards and then advance them for advancement’s sake.

Ever forward.