Design-Build Delivers

Spotlighting the Updates to DBIA's Universal Best Practices

May 17, 2023 DBIA
Spotlighting the Updates to DBIA's Universal Best Practices
Design-Build Delivers
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Design-Build Delivers
Spotlighting the Updates to DBIA's Universal Best Practices
May 17, 2023
DBIA

Since the initial release of DBIA’s Design-Build Done Right® Universal Best Practices in 2014, both design-build and the construction, architecture and engineering (AEC) industry at large have seen significant evolution. To reflect those changes and provide room for continued growth, DBIA has released an update to the Best Practices, available now in the DBIA Bookstore. 

The 2023 update was informed by extensive research and the varied perspectives of diverse stakeholders with the goal of providing guidance that greatly increases the chances of successful and truly collaborative design-build outcomes.

In this month’s Design-Build Delivers podcast, we talk about the update process and some of the bigger changes in the updated Best Practices. And we discuss the anticipated impact on design-build in light of significant growth projections in the next three years. 


Guests:
Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA
DBIA Curriculum and Resource Development Advisor


Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA
DBIA Designated Design-Build Professional 
Principal and Project Manager
Rawlins Group


Access all our free design-build resources and learn more about Design-Build Done Right® at dbia.org.

DBIA members are shaping the future, one successful collaboration at a time.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Since the initial release of DBIA’s Design-Build Done Right® Universal Best Practices in 2014, both design-build and the construction, architecture and engineering (AEC) industry at large have seen significant evolution. To reflect those changes and provide room for continued growth, DBIA has released an update to the Best Practices, available now in the DBIA Bookstore. 

The 2023 update was informed by extensive research and the varied perspectives of diverse stakeholders with the goal of providing guidance that greatly increases the chances of successful and truly collaborative design-build outcomes.

In this month’s Design-Build Delivers podcast, we talk about the update process and some of the bigger changes in the updated Best Practices. And we discuss the anticipated impact on design-build in light of significant growth projections in the next three years. 


Guests:
Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA
DBIA Curriculum and Resource Development Advisor


Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA
DBIA Designated Design-Build Professional 
Principal and Project Manager
Rawlins Group


Access all our free design-build resources and learn more about Design-Build Done Right® at dbia.org.

DBIA members are shaping the future, one successful collaboration at a time.

 May 2023 Podcast - Best Practices

SPEAKERS

Kim Wright, Erin Looney, Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA, Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA

Kim Wright 

Welcome to the Design-Build Institute of America's Design-Build Delivers Podcast. I'm Kim Wright at DBIA National Headquarters. Before we begin today's podcast, I wanted to say thank you and also goodbye to all of our podcast followers who joined us over the years. I am now officially retired. I want to introduce everyone to Erin Looney, who will be taking over as host for our Design-Build Delivers podcast, starting right now. Erin, I turn it over to you.

 

Erin Looney

Thanks, Kim. We're sorry to see you go, but we're thrilled for your upcoming adventures in relaxation. Lucky you. As Kim said, I am Erin Looney at DBIA National Headquarters, and this is the Design-Build Institute of America's Design-Build Delivers podcast. Over our 30-year history, DBIA has seen design-build grow by leaps and bounds. That kind of growth necessitated reliable guidance. And in 2014, that reliable guidance came in the form of DBIA's Universal Best Practices. The manual – informed by extensive research and consultation with a variety of stakeholders – provides guidance for good design-build and creates consistency and expectations for design-build projects. Of course, no two design-build projects are alike, but establishing best practices helps stakeholders increase the chances of a successful and truly collaborative project outcome. Fast forward to 2023. And we're seeing design-build inch closer to eclipsing half of construction spending. So it was time for an update to those best practices. That update, coming out this month, went through similar rigorous consultation and sets expectations for today's and tomorrow's design-build done right. To provide context for the updates to the new DBIA best practices, we're talking to Jim Ropelewski, DBIA curriculum and resource development advisor, and Dan Rawlins, DBIA Designated Design-Build Professional and principal and project manager with the Rawlins group. So Jim and Dan, welcome to Design-Build Delivers. Thank you for joining us and for being the first batters I face here and my debut as host. I'll try really hard not to throw too much heat. 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA

Thanks for inviting us. 

 

Erin Looney

Sure. So there is no typical design-build project. You know, what works in one project may not work in another. But you know, there are some fundamentals for good design-build, which is where DBIA's Best Practices come in. So first, let's talk about what makes DBIA's Best Practices important in the industry?

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA

Well, they're based on research, they're based on knowledge of the broad base of industry that is the membership of DBIA. So we have have the input of owners, we have the input of design-build practitioners, as lead contractors, as architects, as trade contractors, as attorneys, as suppliers. So really, the whole cornucopia of people that are involved in the design-build industry have spoken into the Best Practices. And I think something in the preamble probably says it best, that if you follow what these best practices say, the probability that you're going to have a successful project is more likely. And if you ignore them, the probability that you're going to have an unhappy project is also more likely. 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA

Yeah, I would just reinforce what Dan said. This is not something that was created in a vacuum with any sort of think tank. We gathered information from throughout industry and also industry partners such as AIA. So this is not only based on successes but also based on failure. So I think it's a very well-rounded look in regards to how do you deliver successful project? And then also, what are the pitfalls? 

 

Erin Looney

Of course, sometimes failures can teach us more than successes. Now let's try something. First, we're going to get into the specifics shortly about the Best Practices and the changes that have been made. But let's pretend you each have exactly one minute, only one minute to explain to somebody what's been updated in the new best practices. 

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA

When we wrote that the first time, the Apple iPhone was seven years old. It hadn't impacted technology, hadn't impacted our work to the extent that it has now, so there's a lot of things reflecting – the growth of BIM, the use of the Internet and other kinds of meeting tools to be working. We, we've had initiatives in DBIA, like the diversity, equity and inclusion, involvement of young professionals that have come and a number of other documents that have happened. So just– we're trying to catch up with the changes of our industry that are happening so fast every day. 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA

And Erin, from my perspective, I would say that I'm going to mention something that will seem superficial, but I think is actually going to be very impactful. And that is the way that we've organized the update to the new Universal Best Practices. It's going to be much more easy to reference; we have added more of an outline form, made sure that there was appropriate bullet points for the implementing techniques. So it's going to be much easier to find not only the best practice, but the associated implementing techniques and to be able to refer to them and have them as a document that you can easily navigate through when you're looking for a particular issue that you're dealing with on your project. 

 

Erin Looney

Hey, that was well done. They were both under a minute. In fact, I think they might have both been closer to 30 seconds. So good work. Now, I did say we're going to get into specifics. So let's do that now. The 2014 best practices document has three major sections. There's how to procure design-build services, how to contract design-build services, and how to execute design-build services. Now for 2023, how have those sections changed? 

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA

We kept those three categories. But within them, we had some changes in what the best practices are. Probably the biggest ones were in procuring design-build services, where we added three new best practices. Two of them relate just to changes in our industry, in that progressive design-build has emerged in the last decade as a more significant force in how design-build is delivered. Best value design-build still stays very important. A few years ago, we issued a position statement on the flexibility of design-build, trying to differentiate between the two. And we kind of find that in the best practices. Another thing is that we had an aha moment where we said our entire procurement section tells Owners what to do in procurement. But there's nothing in the 2014 document that tells practitioners what to do when they're pursuing a design-build project. What are the best practices for teams pursuing projects? And so we've added a new best practice section that's focused on what teams should be doing.

 

Erin Looney

Once again, that sort of choose your own adventure approach so that you can take the easy path to where you need to go. It sounds like the way it's set up now helps users find what they need without having to be inundated with information that might not apply to their project.

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA

Well, just to address things that we– we were silent on in 2014. 

 

Erin Looney

Yeah and 2014 feels like yesterday sometimes. But it isn't. It's almost 10 years ago. But let's go back even further and, you know, feel a little older – to 1993. DBIA is celebrating 30 years this year. And as an organization, you know, through that time, we've been around to support significant evolution in the industry. You know, like you said, with the iPhone being seven years old, that was almost 10 years ago. And over those years, we've seen small changes, large changes, COVID, meaningful diversity, just huge seismic shifts in some cases. So I'm sure developing this was quite the process. Why don't you talk us through how you approach the update.

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA 

The first thing that we did was we respected the very rigorous process that occurred in 2014, when the document was first created. And we replicated some of the things that had happened there because it was we felt it was a very good work and kind of felt if something found its way into a revised document, it kind of had to find its way in there, had to earn its place in the, in the document. So we first reached out to the DBIA membership and to all of our peers in industry, the whole alphabet soup of of all the other professional organizations that are supporting things from AIA to AGC to COOA, a lot of a lot of different organizations. And we got over 300 responses to that initial piece. And so we had a blue ribbon committee, the DBIA Education Committee. And the subcommittee for the update of the best practices document that that then went through a very careful four-month process of vetting those comments just to see which ones needed to find their way into the best practices. There are a lot of comments that we had that were really good suggestions but not probably at the level of best practices. So in the future, we're going to do something with them. We've kind of put them in a parking lot to deal with them later. There were a lot of them that we had to go back and clarify and just understand what the author of the comment was, was really getting at so we could, you know, look for the meat in it. And there were some comments that, that just weren't pertinent to what we're doing. So we just had to sort through them all. And and then once we did that we had to figure out how they would align with the way the best practices were being organized and then went through the process of refining and wordsmithing how each statement was made so that it was clear to our whole committee. And that was a rigorous process as well. Then finally it went from our subcommittee to the big committee, and then it went several months through board scrutiny. So it's had, I think, 300 people make comments and it feels like 400 people had input in it in the process as we went along. 

 

Erin Looney

Jim, what did you think in developing this update was the impetus for saying, "this is the time to make the update?"  

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA

Well, I would say that it probably was overdue. And I think in the future, we will be looking at trying to effectuate updates on a more regular cycle. But I do think that the pandemic certainly sped up some of the innovations that are required in all construction. And so design-build was not, was not an exception to that. So I think timing was good. From this – from that perspective. I will say that I would like to reinforce the level of rigor that Dan discussed, I think we ended up doing about 18 versions through various updates. And, you know, the iterative process is so important in design-build, we took that same mindset when we developed this latest draft of the universal, but I would say that the additional innovation, creativity that was required to maintain construction projects during the pandemic gave us some really good additional information to take into consideration for this Universal Best Practices.

 

Kim Wright

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Erin Looney

So you've hit on this just a little bit already. But let's dive deeper. Among some of the reasons for developing a Best Practices Guide in the first place for design-build is there is a fact that there's a lot of design-build being done. Projections, for instance, from FMI consulting, say 47% of construction spending by 2026 will be design-build. Now that doesn't mean every design-build project is going well. There is some design-build done wrong, as of course there is with any project delivery method. As part of DBIA's focus on education, you know, we provide resources like the best practices to help owners and industry professionals succeed. So how does following best practices make it more likely projects will be successful? 

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA

Well, I– one thing, we've tried to make the statements that are in the best practices very clear to understand and very applicable. So it's, it's not going to take a lot of deciphering of what's the intent of the statement. And so if you use that as a roadmap – and we've seen some owners who are very intent on best practices, who will have a checklist to say, as we're going out with our procurement, here's how we're using all the best practices, and then ask the responding design-builders to show how they're using, implementing best practices on their end. So they're using the document in its most rigorous form as a checklist for "are we doing this the right way?" It's also a good place just to give yourself the ability to question– whether what you're doing, what you've always been doing, because your practices are based in a different delivery method than design-build. And so the whole idea of making the mind shift to, the mental shift to think like a design-builder and act like a design-builder, it helps to reinforce those kinds of things, just codifying the right kinds of steps you ought to be taking and using the document as a tool rather than just something that you read and put on the shelf.

 

Erin Looney 

On top of the Best Practices, DBIA has primers, deep dives, market sector-specific resources, contracts. As we've talked about a little bit, it's not the only resource that exists but that also includes federal, transportation and water/wastewater best practices guides. So with the continued growth of design-build, of course, we're going to see more use in other sectors. For instance, that same FMI report says that over the next three years, education, manufacturing and healthcare sectors are going to increase their use of design-build. Are there any plans to add, or rumblings about adding, any additional sectors as they grow? And might those be areas for future best practices? 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA 

So the short answer is yes, we are certainly aware that design-build is going into other sectors and becoming more prominent. And the ones that, you know, we see are certainly in education or manufacturing or healthcare. We're starting to see an expanded use of the methodology. So we are aware and we are having discussions in regards to what additional information do those sectors need. I do want to stress that the Universal Best Practices are broadly applicable. So they are applicable to those particular sectors that we're seeing expansion of design-build. And we tend not to want to develop a specific unique best practices unless there's so much different information. Federal is a great example. There's a lot of different federal rules that are required, and therefore it necessitated an additional best practices. But for some of those sectors, they will likely just need either a primer or deeper dive or some additional information or training so that we can discuss the nuances of that particular sector. So it's a balance. Now, obviously, the best practices take longer to produce, but we can produce some of these other supplemental information much more quickly, and then benefit those sectors. 

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA  

And we do in-house training and, you know, agency, sector specific training. So we have, we can also put together a team of great instructors that can come in and kind of laser focus what a particular agency or a particular institution might, might need for their project, too. So that's another, another resource that DBIA has. 

 

Erin Looney  

A little bit more of a tailored approach to making sure they're doing design-build right in their sectors. Another important function of best practices is providing information that helps teams decide which project delivery method is actually best for their goal. Sometimes it's not design-build, and that's okay. So how do DBIA Best Practices acknowledge that design-build isn't the only option without then stepping on the growth of design-build?

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA  

Well, the very first best practice, first implementing technique that we lay out is that an owner do a careful assessment of their project and its needs and their own way they operate as an institution and decision-making process and a lot of the other factors that go into deciding what is the best delivery system for this project. So that's, that's right out of the box, the very first thing we think in best practices you should be doing is making a strategic, intelligent choice as to which delivery system is best. And then if, if you do that, and you decide design-build is the best, then read the rest of the best practices manual and put it to work. 

 

Erin Looney  

Sort of like choose your own adventure. And if this is your adventure, keep going. If it's not, there are other resources to take care of that. 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA 

And Erin, I can't reinforce the importance enough of the owner self-assessment. You know, we used to have discussions when we Dan and I first started teaching for DBIA, in which what projects lend themselves best to design-build, we've moved away from that because quite frankly, design-build can work with any project. The more complex the better, the larger the better. But it certainly can be well suited for any particular project that you have. But not for every owner. It's going to really be determined by their individual culture, by the buy-in from the stakeholders, by the leadership that's required. And so that's why that is best practice number one in the implementing techniques in regards to the owner self-assessment. Do you have a supportive organization? The stakeholder engagement is all going to be key to that. 

 

Erin Looney  

So looking at some of the updates specifically, one part that was really interesting was the inclusion of a series of guiding principles. There are principles on diversity, equity & inclusion, ethics, workforce sustainability and certification, for instance. Talk more about how your research led you to include these guiding principles in the best practices document. 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA  

So, Erin, we've received a lot of information in regards to those four areas, the importance of ethical conduct, demonstrated competence, professional development and capacity and supporting diversity, equity and inclusion. And we had a lot of discussions in regards to where does that fit specifically among the various best practices and implementing techniques. And we made a decision that they are so important that they need to be interwoven throughout all of the best practices and implementing techniques and that's how we came up with the idea of these guiding principles. And we are trying to drive home the importance of the fact that if you have these foundational elements as part of your design-build project, then that is going to make you very successful because you're basically leveraging all those areas that need to be brought into the process. 

 

Erin Looney 

This is an interesting piece. We had COVID, and COVID led to this massive increase in people staying home to do their jobs. The ability to collaborate across the multiverse became the standard. But you've also included co-location as a best practice, still. Talk about – in a post COVID world – how you support the assertion that co-location is the way to go. And what does that look like in 2023, versus what it looked like in 2014? 

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA  

Many of us were involved in projects that included physical co-location prior to COVID. And we also realized that one of the byproducts of COVID has been opening up this incredible opportunity for people to meet across a video platform at a greater level than they were certainly before COVID. And so the, the acceptance of working in that area, and it's great for conversations, it's not great for things like overhearing somebody and jumping into a conversation. There's something about proximity, there's something about being together in the same space, reading all the visual signals that you have in conversation, injecting yourself into something that's going on right beside you, because you have some knowledge that that will help that conversation move along. That, that can't happen virtually. So we kept it as a best practice because there is kind of a magic that happens when you take people from a variety of different companies, put them together on one big design-build team, and then put them in fairly close, uncomfortable quarters really is what you're working in. And, and the amount of integration and cohesion of the team is at a greater level than you have, if we're just meeting across the electronic platform. Both– I think what we'll see is a hybrid, that the ability for a core group of people to be co-located and then expand that group to a much, much greater degree than we could in any other ways. And then we can electronically– the ability for lots and lots of people to be in a meeting without having to travel two days to get there. We can't lose the advantage of all that. But I think the two together are going to be more powerful than an either/or situation. 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA 

And I think that's a really key point, we have to understand that we will likely not go back to the pre-pandemic model. But we also have to recognize that we don't have robots building these projects. Right, right. So there are going to be folks that are on site. And so the co-location is going to be vital, we also have to recognize that there will be people working remotely. It just is that this teamwork, this collaboration is not going to happen organically. It has to be intentional. So if we're going to have people that are going to be involved in the project that are going to be stakeholders that are not going to be co-located, then the project has to have the technology to make it seamless, so that everybody can have those interactions. And make sure that everybody is staying in the loop because communication continues to be one of the core elements of the successful design-build project. 

 

Erin Looney  

So it's not about huddling everyone in a yurt and saying, "fight this out." It's about, as you said, being more intentional about what expenses are being taken on to get people to the same location when there might be technology that could be more cost effective. 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA  

Yes, we're really hoping for holograms at some point, Erin. 

 

Erin Looney  

Of course!

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA

But until we do so, we're going to have to put a lot of effort and a lot of deliberation in regards to how we do this. 

 

Erin Looney 

Well, I will be first in line to help you with those holograms. So speaking of the future, what are the next steps at this point for this best practices update? 

 

Jim Ropelewski, JD, DBIA

Well, first and foremost, I think we've been teasing people enough saying that the universal are going to come out? Well, we are we're finally going to get there. So in early May. So next month, we will be publishing the Universal Best Practices. And we will also concurrently be publishing the progressive design-build deeper dive that is a significant update to the Universal Best Practices. And we wanted to also provide some of that additional detailed information. So that'll be coming after currently in May. And then as you mentioned before, we need to look to the market sectors. So the market sectors also need to be updated from a best practices standpoint. So we're currently working on the federal, and we anticipate having that completed by the end of this year. We also need to take a look at the transportation, the water/wastewater Best Practices sectors and get additional information to see what updates are required for the publication of the Universal Best Practices. Then going to start another process, which is looking at our core certification classes and seeing what needs to be updated. Is there anything in conflict with the new revision? Are there new types of best practices or implementing techniques that need to be incorporated in that training? And then from there, we do the test, the certification test. So those are the upcoming in the next couple of years.

 

Erin Looney 

Okay, so that's immediate. Now let's look further, let's look toward the distant future. We know this isn't going to be the only time this is updated. It might be another 10 years, or there might be some seismic shift that necessitates an update long before then. So little exercise in prognostication here, what do you see on the horizon that might inform the next best practices refresh? 

 

Dan Rawlins, RA, DBIA  

Well, constant change is here to stay. And, you know, if you were to ask me a year before COVID what my world would look like a year after COVID, I would never have been able to have guessed what, you know what some of those those changes were. And I think that's a little bit of what we just have to be open to is to understand and look for the look for that that pink edge of the sunrise on the horizon – what's coming, what's new, but it was, it was a rigorous effort. Took two years of committee work to get this document to publication. So a formal revision of it every 10 years is, is probably a good healthy thing to be planning on. And, and if there are things that that are needed to supplement the industry, we have other ways to respond more rapidly. Position statements is probably the quickest way to address an emerging issue, and then let it catch up to best practices as it comes along.

 

Erin Looney 

And there you have it. The updated best practices will be out in the coming weeks. You can find the Universal Best Practices as well as the other documents we talked about today at store.dbia.org. And thank you to USCAD for their support of the Design-Build Delivers podcast. Learn more at uscad.com/dbia

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Highlighting what’s changed in the 2023 Best Practices
Industry stakeholders offer perspective on Best Practices
Best Practices promote Design-Build Done Right
The Universal Best Practices guide is just one of many tools
Best Practices inform choice of project delivery method
Guiding Principles added to 2023 Best Practices
Co-location still the way to go? DBIA Best Practices guide says, “absolutely!”
Looking to the future of Best Practices