As the final segment of this series, the topic of collaboration as it pertains to Lean will be explored. Looking at the principles of Lean which are: Identify Value, Map the Value Stream, Create Flow, Establish Pull and Seek Perfection, these are closely linked to the role an architect plays in the project as a coordinator. Architects coordinate teams of consultants to ensure that the correct project specifications and requirements are met while staying on schedule and on budget.

Looking at the Lean principles and through collaboration, we as architect begin this cycle by working with the client to identify value. From this, the project team, inclusive of the consultants and client, identify the steps in the value stream, and eliminating any waste identified – reflect back to article one in this series where we identified the types of waste. After this is done, we create flow in order to have a tight sequence in order for the project to run smoothly. This is where the collaboration and coordination is key. Think back to article two in this series, where we gave the example of not engaging security consultants (or civil and mechanical engineers) until later in the design process. The implications from this lack of collaboration can be quite costly. When this flow is well established, this allows you to establish pull, where the client can pull value for future activities such as obtaining the necessary permits and finetuning their construction budget for the project. Because the team is well coordinated and collaborates regularly this can be done fairly quickly and easily. The final principle of seek perfection, comes with the number of times this process is repeated. Fortunately, APD has done a number of projects in this industry already, and have gotten to a point where we are efficient with our space planning in order to reduce waste, which in turn generates more value for the client. Reflect on article three, where we looked at how space planning reduces waste.

A Lean approach would enable teams to work more closely together, strengthening their relationships and sharing knowledge to achieve the common goal of the project. Potential design solutions or proposals can be explored collectively from the standpoint of this shared knowledge, instead of having each consultant trying to tackle the challenges within their own silo. Don’t just take our word for it – a recent study by Dodge Data and Analytics in conjunction with the Lean Construction Institute showed a statistically significant correlation between projects that implemented Lean methods and the likelihood for better client outcomes and design excellence.

The cost benefit of bringing all relevant consultants on board early in the design phase can be extremely high. To do this, we recommend engaging in an IPD (or Integrated Project Delivery) partnership, similar to a ‘Design-Build’ agreement. This allows the general contractor (and other consultants) to be a part of the team early on, meaning that they can give more accurate pricing estimates from the schematic design phase of the job, and allowing the design team to make more educated decisions regarding materials and constructability which will impact budget and schedule.

We would love to talk with you about how we can contribute our Lean knowledge and expertise to your team, and how implementing Lean design and construction processes can help bring your project in on time and on budget. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.