Dudley Advance II was built to house a new centre for advanced building technologies; it made perfect sense for this building to use IPI


‘Collaboration’ has been a buzzword in the construction industry for some time. We’re all being encouraged to follow an integrated approach to project delivery and, out of this movement, was borne the Integrated Project Insurance Procurement Model (IPI).

I worked in the team that delivered the £12 million Dudley Advance II building at Dudley College – the first project to use IPI to completion in the UK. I certainly learnt a lot about real collaboration and what it means to work in a fully integrated team right from the beginning of a project.

The IPI model looks to align the interests of all team members with the functional needs of the client. At its core, it aims to ensure that the execution of the project is closely coordinated with a very clear focus on delivery within budget and programme from day one. Through IPI, all parties are involved from the outset – forming a ‘virtual company’/alliance – and ensuring that solutions are ‘achievable, affordable and delivered in a culture of full collaboration’.

Also read: Building utopia? How Dudley College was built using a new form of procurement

We hear a lot about ‘integrated working’ and early subcontractor involvement, but IPI is the first model that really pushes for complete, linear collaboration from the outset. IPI presents a completely new approach and, as one would expect, it isn’t without its challenges.

From the client’s perspective, one main difference between the IPI model and a traditional model is that risk is managed and priced at a single point and is covered under one insurance policy. Traditionally, risk is priced by multiple parties and covered by multiple policies throughout the supply chain, which is fragmented and costly. The costs saved here are the biggest draw for clients – but the structure of the model means that clients have to be fully involved at every stage which is a relatively big commitment.

IPI requires the parties to look at a project from a completely different perspective and working within ‘one team’, so companies’ cultures all need to align for everyone to progress.

To ensure that the IPI model works, the participants have to embrace different ways of working. For example, in order to get suppliers and sub-contractors on board early enough to allow them to positively influence the design process, their procurement has to be based on a significantly reduced set of information. This can be a challenge to the contractor partners procurement team, who are used to much tighter cost information during procurement.

This can be alleviated by utilising the right skillsets within the alliance team and trusting to the abilities and strengths of the parties. Clear communication at the procurement stage is also vital, mitigating onsite and design issues early on. IPI utilises ‘Build in a Day’ workshops, which get the whole supply chain together in one room to discuss the journey from design to completion. This approach assists in achieving the leanest programme and best cost outcome.

The decision-making power is also a big departure from traditional models. With a completely flat structure, all decisions have to be made together by the Alliance Board – it takes collaboration and a willingness to learn and change to enable this to be done efficiently. Meetings can be lengthy until the Board Members have mastered this aspect. Undertaking focused ‘stand-up’ meetings, and utilising webex and conference calls assist in combatting this issue.

IPI requires all alliance members to be at BIM Level 2 standard, but to also utilise the skills within the team that are ‘best for project’ outcomes. This resulted in Pick Everard modelling aspects of the site that we would not have normally modelled, for example incoming below ground services. In terms of the Dudley Advance II building, I would say that the progress we made in BIM and 3D modelling was one of the biggest successes. The site team used the model for setting out, which negated the need for us to produce traditional drawings, instead providing views from the model. This meant no errors in the interpretation of drawings, and created a more efficient and sustainable process.

The team also used 5D modelling, incorporating cost and time into the BIM model, which was hugely advantageous to the project’s progression.

There are lots of benefits to IPI – from a no blame culture being established, to providing more space for innovation – but the real selling point for Dudley College was that it enabled them to get exactly the right building for their needs within the available budget.

Dudley Advance II was built to house a new centre for advanced building technologies, providing students with hands-on training, preparing them for careers in the construction industry. It made perfect sense for this building to use IPI, showcasing how it worked in practice to its students, creating an industry-leading building and acting as an exemplar project for real collaborative working.

Natalie Clemson is an associate director at Pick Everard