Advanced Integrated Practice

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Advanced Integrated Practice (AIP) in project management is a design and construction process that brings together collaborative and integrative methods for improving productivity within the industry, by utilization of an interactive, comprehensive, project-wide delivery methods and practices. This partnering process allows the team to function within an integrated environment while using advanced delivery methodologies for delivering a project by creating high-performance teams with collaborative tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), Sustainability and LEAN Construction processes. Other areas and processes that AIP addresses are as follows:

  • Integration
  • Innovation
  • Culture
  • Manufacturing / PreFab
  • Design-Assist
  • Business Model
  • Scope & Programming
  • Schedule Development
  • Cost Control
  • Quality & Safety Advancements
  • Contracts


During the last half the 19th and nearly all of the 20th centuries, there was a move to silo design and construction teams on projects, where teams experienced increased risk, lower construction productivity, lack of communication between owner and teams, and often the owner met decreased value in their projects. This move meant that teams encountered adversarial project experiences between companies, team members and the owner. This often meant that the project did not meet the owner’s vision for the project. It was noted that the construction industry suffered a decline in construction productivity since the 1960s, which was then documented in a whitepaper by Steven G. Allen.[1] During this same period, manufacturing within the U.S. also suffered a decline in manufacturing productivity capability.[2] Due to these effects, the construction industry faced increased challenges in design and construction. In a 2004 study conducted by Paul Teicholz[3] showed that the construction industry was still the only major industry that was less productive in 2004 than it was in 1964.

Getting the design professional and the general contractor to work together during the design phase of the construction process was challenging. Improvements in construction methodologies, productivity, reduced costs, and shorter schedules were becoming hallmarks of the projects that used these collaborative approaches and more of the industry began to embrace the collaborative ways. Owners, seeing the benefits, started choosing those companies that achieved superior performance using the new delivery methods. Over the past decade, significant improvements have been made to use these collaborative processes to address newly proven concepts for the construction industry, by utilizing collaborative software, technology tools and integration methods for vertical and horizontal projects within the built-environment. Industries, such as oil and gas, or microelectronics applied similar processes within their companies by using “vertical integration” as a method to integrate some or all of the specialized technology to bring improvements to their business. The construction industry is no different. There is now a move to bring integrative methods into design and construction to improve productivity. Of these, one type is identified as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) method.


AIP is a compilation of processes and tools to address the increased team collaboration effort and partnering techniques, and allows for various forms of delivery methods to be used for a project delivery, such as Construction Manager-at-Risk (CMAR), Design-Build (D/B) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), as well as the utilization of tools used in the execution of design and construction on projects. As a result of these and possible hybrid types of delivery, the Alliance for Construction Excellence (ACE), which is an educational outreach program and a part of the Del E. Webb School of Construction[4] and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering[5] at Arizona State University (ASU), coined the AIP process in 2010 for use on both public and private construction projects within the industry.

As a result of this, an effort to develop the AIP program was established in 2011 by a select group of people, consisting of owner, design and construction industry professionals, to document the process and establish guidelines to allow other teams to function within a collaborative environment, identifying the challenges faced by the team members, and then by providing solutions to deliver projects using integrative techniques within the various delivery methods listed above. The collaborative effort to identity these processes are found in "Advanced Integrated Practice",[6] published by ACE at Arizona State University in 2013.

Additionally, two other eManuals were also developed to augment the AIP program by identifying key collaborative partnering processes, which would also be used within the different forms of delivery methodologies such as CMAR, D/B and IPD. Of these, the two which ACE felt were the most effective and important to highlight were BIM&VDC and the Design-Assist process[7]

ACE developed BIM guidelines originally in 2008 for the construction industry. This began the process of identifying key software, methodologies, processes and tools to allow the use BIM on designs for building projects. ACE continued improving this program through a collaborative effort of designers, constructors and owners to produce the update on the BIM&VDC eManual in 2013. The eManual is a resource to examine the tools and process guidelines used by owners, designers and constructors on how BIM&VDC is applied at each of the building phases, from concept through turnover to the owner, along with specific suggested deliverables. It also addresses the use of BIM&VDC during the building phases for planning, phasing, contract development, detailing, cost control, scheduling and examines uses for applications and techniques.

ACE documented the Design-Assist (D-A) process originally in 2007 which was developed through a collaborative effort of construction professionals. The process would be used within the CMAR, D/B, or IPD methodologies. Design-Assist was identified early on as a collaborative team-oriented project delivery method that capitalizes on the benefits of early engagement of D-A subcontractors. Its objective is to minimize design and constructability related issues prior to construction by maximizing overall value. By 2013, ACE improved the process and included this as a part of the AIP program, in responses to owner’s needs to improve construction, reduce risk and mange cost due to challenges during construction. The eManual focuses on the benefits, challenges and leads the teams to evaluate the needs and application of Design-Assist on owner’s projects.

The role of AIP in Design and Construction[edit]

This idea of culture change puts people at the top the inverted pyramid saying that infinite potential is within the people.

Culture: Every company is defined in part by its relationship to customers. In most project management driven construction companies, the relationship to the customer is fee for service, in other words, transactional. Transactional procurement of products and services focuses on cost rather than value. This attitude, when combined with decision-making that reiterates previous solutions (i.e. D-B-B), often results in the commoditization of products and services. In this method, vertical integration is normally not accomplished between partners. Design professionals and consultant relationships are likewise contractual with a commodity’s low cost valued over service excellence. In this climate, consultant disciplines are likely to be kept in silos where cross-functional collaboration is rare.

When knowledge-based learning organizations are built between partners, teams can create more value for their customers, society and related employees. This idea of culture change puts people at the top the inverted pyramid (see Figure 1) saying that infinite potential is within the people. Organizations that recognize people as their greatest resource and only true asset create an environment that brings forth the vast creative resources and provides added value to the project.

Creation of Teams: The culture of the teams will need to change and evolve to promote the flow of trust between stakeholders and team partners. This change will require finding people willing to step forward and take that initiative and it may require the right timing where a group of people are ready for the change and ready to make it happen. This is a part of the changing paradigm of business models and redefining how teams are led and work together. It means letting go of the age-old mentality that you get the best deal by getting the best price.

Additionally, when a project requires the creation of high-performance teams, whether it is specified through the contractual form of agreement, or through a teaming and partnering effort to address a project, each team must be willing to change and perform, such that each member must be willing to use collaboration, the technology tools and processes within the team environment to deliver the project to the owner. If a team member cannot offer this service on a project, it is difficult for the entire team to carry that team member on through the completion of the project.

Technology: The technology potion of a project is ever evolving within the design and construction effort of a project. First cost, continued personnel training and operating cost is an impetus to most design construction teams from using the collaborative tools such as BIM&VDC or processes as well as LEAN and construction collaborative technology (i.e. – Adobe Acrobat, Google Apps, Heystack, WebEx, etc.)

Many owner/operators of a facility are not likely to integrate these processes on a project just yet either. That is to say, that this won’t happen, but they are less likely to request this on a new project. This is due to the perception many owners have….”they don’t want to or can’t afford to pay for this added service.” This is generally due to the project’s first cost and budget restraints (perceived cost for additional services from the design professionals or construction groups), software and hardware expenses, the lack of untrained resources on the owner’s side (i.e. - they do not have facilities or personnel that have BIM-Based knowledge), as well as the fact that most facility operating budgets do not have the operational funds allotted to continue training an resources for yearly model management of the facility. On the design or construction side, there is a continuous change in model development technology, the additional cost to upgrade equipment and the wide variety of web-based management solutions and tools to manage. This too is met with some resistance by the construction industry companies.

As for the use of technology between teams, it too offers many challenges between the companies and individual members executing the project. Not all team members are proficient in using the software or have technical; capabilities in using the collaborative tools to address the design or construction effort efficiently. Each company and each member have a varying degree of knowledge and capability.

The solutions are to embrace technology, either incrementally or in whole, for the increased benefits it provides the project and team, as well as the added value to the owner.

Evolution of the Business Model: The use of integrative collaborative processes, such as AIP can be a powerful method of delivering design and construction services on a project. It requires an increased level of upfront work and necessary cultural change to affect all the participating parties. The right team must be created and selected on the right project. Commitments between team members must be made, honored and fulfilled. Trust must be developed and nurtured between all parties. Full communication and collaboration techniques will need to be used by all members. All partners should have financial arrangements to manage risk and may share in the project’s rewards. Additionally, the owner really needs to own the process to allow a successful outcome on the project. All of this requires in-depth understanding of the business model by all participants and the right preparation work, in order to reap the many benefits of AIP.


  1. ^ ”Why Construction Industry Productivity is Declining,” by Steven G. Allen, National Bureau of Economic Research, no. 1555, Feb, 1985, retrieved 2008-11-17
  2. ^ “Regional Productivity Growth in U.S. Manufacturing: 1951-78”, by Charles R. Hulten and Robert M. Schwab, The American Economic Review, Vol. 74, No. 1 (Mar., 1984), pp. 152–162, Published by: American Economic Association
  3. ^ “Labor Productivity Declines in the Construction Industry: Causes and Remedies”, AECbytes Viewpoint #4 (April 14, 2004), by Paul Teicholz, Ph.D. Professor (Research) Emeritus, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
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  7. ^ BIM&VDC - “An ‘Update’ to the Introduction and Best Methods Approach”, May 8, 2013, published by the Alliance for Construction Excellence at Arizona State University

Selected Articles on IPD, BIM and Collaboration: