In coming columns, I will walk you through an actual design-build project titled Project X. Herein will be a D-B firm’s business plan and how it assists building owners with goals, expectations, activities, and deliverables when renovating their facilities. The focus here will be the business aspects leading up to the D-B process and how Project X evolves in 2000.

Late in the year, Engineered Systems will publish this case study from the project manager’s point of view. Project X involves a building located in a historic section of New England. Its owners are reinvesting in its mechanical and electrical infrastructure while improving space usage through programming changes.

Build Your Reputation

Here are some important elements of a successful plan.

  • Create a business strategy that will result in D-B opportunities. Put the plan in writing and continuously improve the document.
  • Limit D-B “requests for proposals” and focus on a network of professionals for referrals.
  • Build a reputation as a firm that solves building problems and completes major mechanical and electrical upgrades as well as system expansions.
  • Focus on facility capital projects as the first line of opportunity. Deferred maintenance is a big business.
  • Position the D-B firm to be recognized as a leader in completing capital projects efficiently, cost-effectively, on time, and in budget.
  • Establish project schedules from the start and keep them current.
  • Demonstrate the firm’s reputation as an “ahead–of-the-curve” company when presenting business credentials.
  • Monitor and measure each project to document the company’s credentials. Facts speak louder than words.
  • Build the firm’s backlog through repeat business while selectively looking for new customer opportunities. Your best customer is your existing customer.
  • Seek out creative, problem-solving professionals for your team. Look for “big picture” skills.
  • Seek out technically sound professionals to complement the creative individual(s).
  • Train the team to “keep it simple” when solving problems.
  • Get “buy-in” from all team members that they will stay on schedule and stay in budget.
  • Partner with others who are perceived as building leaders, both from a design, construction, and O&M point-of-view.
  • Don’t rule out the role of “D-B bridging professional” when the opportunity arises.
  • Don’t stop at D-B. Include O&M seamless services.

The Plan in Action

Having read the above, let’s go back and revisit the D-B business plan and how it worked for Project X.
  • The business strategy in place, the D-B firm generated a Table of Contents that “puts in writing” the “deliverable” based on standard operating procedures. For the Building & Maintenance (B&M) committee at Project X, they clearly understood what they were purchasing.
  • Project X came from a referral by one of the networking professionals. The D-B firm was chosen based on past experience and reputation as a company that solves building problems. Another piece of the business plan at work!
  • Focus of project started with a Phase A facility assessment based on the D-B deferred maintenance strategy.
  • Through the referral, the D-B firm was introduced as a leader in completing capital projects efficiently, cost-effectively, on time, and in budget.
  • The “picture is worth a 1,000-words” strategy proved to be an effective tool for this D-B firm’s presentation to the B&M committee.
  • Big-picture problem-solving professionals along with technical staff are in place to complement the creative facility assessment approach. In this case, the project manager provided the “big picture” solution to the B&M committee.
  • Continuous emphasis on “keep it simple,” problem solving was achieved through the use of checklists and digital photographs.
  • Continuous emphasis on project schedule and project budget showed the B&M committee the “windows-of-opportunity” that existed in the schedule.
  • D-B and O&M will be seamless and include pertinent extended service contracts.

Companies positioning themselves to enter the D-B arena should consider such a format and continually revisit their business plan. Monitoring and measuring why you are selected to do D-B is just as important as getting the job.