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Design Insights to Help Minimize Risk and Accelerate Delivery of Your Next Project: Deliver and Minimize Risk in An Increasingly Complicated Technical and Regulatory Landscape

In an increasingly complex technical and regulatory landscape, it can be difficult to identify the right partners and best approach for success. To make things more challenging, procurement team incentives are often at odds with capital project performance objectives. As a result, the selection of AECPM service providers and delivery approach may be a poor fit for the project or organization and lead to a deficient outcome.   


To identify the best value proposal when bidding on your next project be sure to use the following insights to improve your business outcomes: 


Develop Evaluation Criteria for service providers focused on project performance. While price can’t be ignored, technical knowledge, quality management, (successful) experience, project management, and resource availability have a greater impact on project outcomes.

Note: Prior experience should not be seen as an indication of successful performance on your project without confirming that the same resources are allocated and that the previous projects met cost and schedule expectations. Asking for performance KPIs such as the percentage of technically similar projects delivered on time and on budget are also excellent options.  


Be sure to level-set the project management aspects of the project. We often see clients provide strong technical scope write-ups in their RFPs but miss important details, which can have a major impact on cost. For example:  

  • ​​The number of design reviews, site visits, and progress meetings desired.   

  • Who is expected to specify the process equipment - the design team or client?​ 


Be sure to use construction administration services and define the level of support expected with a quantified number of hours in the RFP. For Example:  

  • ​​Have each bidder include a budgetary T&E estimate for construction administration services equal to 25% of their design labor estimate.  

  • Ensure the desired construction administration services are clearly identified in the scope. To ensure construction quality and successful project outcome, we recommend the following CA tasks as a minimum effort: 

  • ​​Respond to Requests for Information (RFI) 

  • ​Process shop drawings and submittals 

  • ​Process Change Orders 

  • Review material test reports 

  • Provide final as-built record drawings 

  • Conduct periodic quality surveys   


Be sure the starting point, project objectives, and existing conditions are clearly defined. For Example:  

  • Describe the availability, format, and condition of the existing facility and utility drawings or BIM model. Is the information accurate, available, and in what format? 

  • Ensure all project objectives are clearly defined, including secondary objectives like LEED certification or meeting zero carbon initiatives.   

  • Don’t forget to include the adjacent spaces that share utilities with the project area in your RFP scope descriptions. For example, changes to one room may seem simple. Still, should that room share HVAC with additional classified areas, the required design effort may be orders of magnitude greater to address risk elements like continuity of operations, product contamination protection, validated space changes, and operator protection.       



Design Quality: Ensure your design partner’s quality assurance processes go beyond just code and coordination checks to critical items like:  

  • Regulatory Compliance (e.g. cGMP, Annex 1, PIC/s, etc.) 

  • Safety and Reliability 

  • Accessibility for Maintenance and Operations 

  • Constructability 

  • Energy and Water Conservation  


Design Value: Use of the Target Value Delivery (TVD) management practice when coupled with a Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) team is a fantastic way to maximize the value of both design and construction. The use of TVD ensures the stakeholders are incentivized, have an alignment of interests, and have the tools necessary to bring the expected cost down over time. Starting projects with a comprehensive IPD team, is an enabler for robust value engineering (VE) analysis and decisions in the planning and early design phase, resulting in the highest return on time invested.   


Design Cost Control: Besides typical project management monitoring and controlling practices such as earned value (EV) and change control, practical steps can be taken to mitigate potential design phase change orders (CO). One simple step is to ensure your floor plan is “locked” early in the project schedule. Floor plan changes in later design phases often result in COs to address utility distribution redesign needs.  

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