DBB, DB or PPP? How to Pick the Best Project Delivery Method

June 1, 2017

If you build it, they will come. But how should you build it?

Some (but not all) public sector projects use the traditional construction delivery method: design-bid-build. For the private sector and those with options, including many in the public sector, there are several: DB, DBOM, CM, CMAR, PPP. These days, the world of project delivery is inundated with acronyms. How do you sort through them? Start with your priorities.

1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

Your project has its own issues, needs and constraints. Spend time up front discussing and documenting them. You don't need to worry about the exact delivery model at this point. By starting with your unique set of requirements, you define your project first then pair it with a specific delivery approach later. 

Some considerations for owners include:

  •  How much control do you want over design?
  •  Is innovation important to you? 
  •  Do you have funding or financing in place?    
  •  Do you need budget certainty?
  •  How quickly do you need your project?
  •  Will you be able to make timely decisions?    
  •  What level of contractual risk are you comfortable with?
  •  Do you have the resources to mitigate risk?
  •  Are you worried about O & M costs?

2. Pair components with your priorities

Once priorities are determined, you can begin to align them with the individual components of project delivery systems. Want to control operating costs? Look for the "O" in "operate." Need capital from the private sector? Add a "P" from "public-private partnerships." Repeat this for each of your criteria and you will end up with a project delivery system that directly interfaces with your project needs.

Acronym Image

3. Be comfortable with innovation

If the priorities of your project are lined up correctly with the diversity of options available, you will end up with a one-of-a-kind project delivery solution. It might not look exactly like what you or someone else has done before. This shouldn't give you pause. Your procurement team or consultant can put together a project delivery system that works best for you and the exact needs of your project. 

  Nuances like demands, timeline, risk, budget—and not habit—should determine the best project delivery system. Let the demands of your project sort it out for you.
Steve Peterson, SEH Design|Build President
A comparison of different project delivery methods shows the applicability of each to different circumstances.

The bottom line

Many come to projects with a pre-conceived notion of what will work best. In some instances, bias gained from past experience can get between us and the best delivery method for any given project. But when we let the project decide its delivery method, good things happen. 

About the Expert

Steve Goraczkowski

Steve Peterson is the President of SEH Design|Build, a wholly owned subsidiary of SEH providing project delivery solutions that work.

Contact Steve

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