Project Management

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Topics: Construction, PMO, Procurement Management
Are You Ready for Design Build Project Delivery Method on Rail Transit Projects?
Driven by political forces, the mandate in New York State to strengthening rail transit infrastructure is “Get It Done?” As a result, the use of Design-Build (DB) project delivery method is increasingly being implemented in an environment where capital programs most frequently use Design-Bid-Build (DBB) project delivery.

After decades of planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing capital construction projects, many rail-transit Program Management Offices (PMOs) have matured and created sustained proficiency while continuously improving requirements and processes in designing and preparing a construction contract, soliciting and negotiating awards to a contractor, and managing the contractor’s progress and quality for delivery of completed construction. PMO leadership, organizational structure, culture, processes, procedures and standards are built for effective execution and realization of projects by DBB.

PMOs using DBB have refined contract documents and trained staff in managing work by leveraging the successes and failures through many years of lessons learned. As a result, Owners and PMO personnel are very familiar with the management approaches and the details in requirements throughout the contract document, including Information For Bid/Bid Requirements, General Terms and Conditions, Special Conditions, and Division 1 specifications.

As DB is introduced into construction projects and it becomes more common, PMOs must change proportionately with updating the Owner’s role and organizational assets. The benefits of DB project play well to “Get It Done” because the method has proven to:
• Reduce the time for defining DB scope and preparing a contract document
• Reduces procurement duration and post-award work submittal processes by consolidating design and construction scope into a single contract
• Improves management processes and accountability using DB best practices during contract execution
• Reduces conflicts and disputes between designer and contractor that would otherwise delay work progress.

In transitioning the PMO to DB best practices, the Owner’s entire organization needs to assure staffing, processes, procedures and standard contracting methods are adjusted accordingly. As highlighted by Design Build Institute of America (DBIA), a leading advocate and educator for design build contracting, the factors for success need to include:
• Review and update the Owner’s DBB contract documents to integrate the recommendations and best practices published by DBIA
• Ensure there is competent and accountable engineering and project management staff the Owner can dedicate to the DB project
• Select team leaders on the Owner’s staff that are most familiar with the technical requirements and execution plan and schedule for the DB project
• Allocate time and funding for training the Owner’s representatives assigned to the DB project
• Provide centralized office locations where the entire DB project staff can work, assemble for meetings and training, and where they are encouraged to work face to face with any/all project team, members
• Define milestones for completion of the DB project design and deliverables with performance dates that are vetted for reasonableness within the industry domain.

TIP: Create a Dispute Avoidance, Mediation, and Resolution committee that is chaired by the Owner’s PMO execute and includes the project’s lead sponsor, a designated leader from DB contractor, Owner’s project funding executive, and Owner’s chief of staff/CEO.

TIP: Amplify bid/proposal requirements to incorporate DB team documentation including a comprehensive project management plan; a preliminary risk register and management framework; and the resumes/statement of qualifications for key personnel from the prime contractor, engineer/designer, project controls officer, document control manager, integration manager, site operations manager and the general contractor.

TIP: Update Construction Contract - Division 1 specifications to incorporate submittal requirements for design deliverables, and to amplify requirements for a comprehensive Project Management Plan.

TIP: Train/educate/certify key leaders in the Owner’s PMO office on the DBB delivery method and the best practices, processes, procedures, document templates, and contracting standard forms. A good resource is the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA), DOT-Federal Transportation Administration and Virginia DOT.

TIP: Define DB practices that are consistent with the PMOs best practices, the Owner’s internal accounting, Email, file sharing and document retention/retrieval systems.

TIP: Require the DB contractor use computer software systems for engineering, project controls and project management systems that are used by the Owner organization and PMO staff. The DB project budget must allocate adequate funding to ensure 100% access for software licenses.
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I enjoy your series of articles on construction, risk, procurement and scheduling
Henry maybe I'm just an old doubter but after many years of varied experience - I would not recommend DB for major rail projects as there is only a handful of competent design firms capable of delivering a design - bid - construct project much less a Design Build. I have found the more complex, the more user involvement, the stakeholders involved the more risk is assumed by an Owner. I can't imagine a performance specification capable of defining a DB project with a hard bid.

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