Technology Design-Build
Technology Design-Build
Technology Design-Build
3 minute read

Airport technology projects implemented through design-build delivery offer attractive rewards, including predictable and controlled costs, a compressed delivery schedule, integration with construction, and reduced system obsolescence.

Airport technology projects implemented through design-build delivery offer attractive rewards, including predictable and controlled costs, a compressed delivery schedule, integration with construction, and reduced system obsolescence.

Burns & McDonnell began assisting clients with integrated technology project delivery (ITPD) more than 18 months ago. In that time, several clients have tested the waters of technology design-build. Early adopters see the benefits but are having difficulty with implementation. Past experience with design-bid-build, low bid or lowest responsive bid does not directly translate to an integrated delivery approach.

The fundamental difference between conventional roles of technology consultant or system integrator is that an ITPD partner performs all phases of the project, from initial design through installation, integration and test. Obviously the experience, skill set and financial strength of the partner is both broad and deep.

Rather than selecting from supplier offerings of design, price and terms, selection is made based on a supplier’s ability to collaborate with the owner to achieve the optimum balance of design and price in the final project. This selection must be made before any significant design work is done.

Consequently, the selection must be made using a qualification-based selection (QBS) process. The relationship between the owner and the ITPD partner is a marriage commitment of two to three years, and the QBS process is a courtship on a schedule.

Before starting the QBS process, the owner must prepare. First, set clear business objectives to define project success. Prioritize these objectives. Determine the maximum funds available — the budget — and the minimum return on investment (ROI) that is acceptable. These boundaries will guide the decision process. For example, if cost starts to exceed available funds or violates ROI, then the project scope must be adjusted by sacrificing lower-ranked objectives.

The cost is estimated based on current industry norms and comparables for the owner objectives. This becomes the target cost. The target cost is set below budget to drive innovation in solution and design. The difference between budget and target becomes the project contingency.

The target cost must be accurate. If it is unrealistically low, ITPD firms will be reluctant to respond; if the target cost is too high, you leave money on the table. Airports can perform this work themselves or obtain assistance from one of the many consulting companies offering information technology master planning and concept design. If the ITPD partner has the experience, they might also assist with the QBS process and serve as extension of owner staff during the construction phase.

Variations on the ITPD Theme

The level of design detail to initiate a technology design-build project can vary. The more initial detail the owner provides, the less the opportunity for innovation in function and cost.

Good: Owner provides design greater than 35 percent – progressive approach

  • Liability concerns because the ITPD partner is asked to take risk for owner work
  • Least opportunity for cost control
  • Limited innovation by product specialists
  • Owner perceives they have more control

Better: Owner provides some design – prescriptive approach

  • Allows owner preferences on approach, technology and function
  • Somewhat reduced innovation and cost control
  • More accurate target cost

Best: Owner states objectives only – performance-based

  • Does not dictate how to meet objectives
  • Provides ITPD team with most flexibility
  • Innovative and cost-effective solutions
  • Least accurate target cost but greatest cost control

ITPD offers a new tool to airports for procuring and deploying all manner of technology and special systems. Like most tools, success depends on the skill of the person or organization using the tool. ITPD demands partnership between the owner and delivery contractor. The rewards of mastering the process are compressed schedule, controlled cost and technology better suited to the owner’s business.

What Is Qualifications-Based Selection?

Qualifications-based selection (QBS) is an objective, flexible procedure for obtaining architectural, engineering, surveying and other related professional services on public projects.

Public Law 92-582 (Brooks Bill) was passed in 1972 and establishes a federal policy to select architects and engineers on competence and qualifications. Based on this federal initiative, local and state governments are adopting ordinances and procedures to permit QBS as an alternative selection process.

How It Works

  1. The owner or their planner defines the project scope of work.
  2. A selection schedule is established.
  3. A list of design/construction professionals is compiled or the project is advertised.
  4. Qualifications documents are requested and evaluated.
  5. A short list of qualified firms is developed.
  6. Short-listed firms are thoroughly briefed on interview procedures.
  7. Interviews are conducted.
  8. Firms are scored and ranked for selection.
  9. Detailed scope of work is negotiated with a top-ranked firm.
  10. ?A contract is negotiated with the top-ranked firm. If an agreement cannot be reached, negotiations begin with the second-ranked firm and so on.
  11. All firms are advised of the final selection.

Prerequisites for Technology Design-Build Projects

For success:

  • Local laws and ordinances must allow QBS
  • Set clearly defined objectives, including target cost
  • Establish a precise selection process
  • Interview candidates carefully and in detail
  • Engage the ITPD firm early
  • Understand the differences in risk from consultant/integrator approach
  • Initial owner design should be less than 30 percent
  • Collaborate freely but limit formal design reviews
  • Focus on total cost of ownership over five to seven years
  • Use performance-based requirements
  • If contractually possible, share the financial pain and gain between the owner and delivery contractor.

For failure:

  • Change the scope during the selection process
  • Force teaming relationships
  • Expect low initial prices
  • Request best and final prices
  • Insist on submittals and shop drawings
  • Hold numerous status meetings and design reviews
  • Select a firm with insufficient financial strength or construction experience
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