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IPD - Integrated Project Delivery: definition, principles and relationship with BIM


BIM thwarts the classic technical schemes of building production. The approach also has economic and financial implications through the gain in value that it generates. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a tool that allows both to highlight this phenomenon and to support it, by placing oneself in a virtuous perspective beneficial to all. Like BIM, to which it is closely linked,IPD is based on a collaborative approach source of its added value.

BIM marks the building's entry into the digital world. This profound change offers unprecedented opportunities to rethink the construction process of a building, and make it more efficient. This efficiency will translate into gains, which are the basis for the arrival of BIM in the real estate industry.

The creation of this added value induces a legitimate question, that of its sharing. In other words, who should benefit from this new gain? The actor or the BIM professional, the linchpin of added value? The Client (MO) who is investing in the operation?

A first reflex leads to favor the MO. It represents the person who is at the origin of the investment, bearing the risk, without which the operation would not exist. Giving him the benefit of the gains then appears quite natural, and this is undoubtedly the most common pattern.

However, on second thought, the process is not straightforward. If the MO is legitimate to claim, because of its financial risk taking, a possible right to reward, the BIM actor also has arguments to make.

The latter supports a part of the investment necessary for the operation. First, it must invest, particularly in hardware, software and even more in its expertise and know-how, it being specified that in a rapidly developing world this effort is both continuous and essential.

Two other aspects support the attribution of a gain, at least partial, to the benefit of the BIM professional. In equity, the added value comes from the use of BIM, or the work of the BIM actor, legitimizing a right of return on this gain.

In addition, in terms of economic efficiency, we can imagine that by attributing a part of the added value to the BIM actor creating it, the latter will be motivated to create more value, giving rise to an additional reward, And so on.

Conversely, depriving the actor behind the creation of wealth is not a very attractive invitation to continue in this direction. As a result, in this logic, the gains will be low, or even non-existent, and wondering who should benefit from this gain makes little sense.

This discussion actually points to a larger question in economics. More prosaically, the construction industry in the United States is developing an approach, or, let's say a tool, which responds to the problem of creation as well as to the sharing of added value.

This is theIntegrated Project Delivery (IPD). It has many characteristics in common with BIM, and beyond that, the same philosophy. At the same time, theIntegrated Project Delivery is a tool in its own right, still relatively unknown, and it is useful to discover the main features.

How is Integrated Project Delivery defined?

The definition that we come across most often comes asIntegrated Project Delivery of the United States, and more precisely of the powerful American Institute of Architects or AIA. A literal translation of this definition would have more drawbacks than benefits, so it's best to keep it in English:

"Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures, and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all project participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste , and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, manufacture, and construction. "(AIA 2007[1])

What is the principle of this tool?

The essential principle is collaboration or the pooling of interventions, which contribute to the act of building, which is of course very close to the BIM process.

Like BIM, the pooling of human and technical resources, expertise and perspectives is at the heart of the reactor.

Each actor retains a specific function, but the idea is not, as in the classic vision, that each one limits himself to his sphere of intervention, in order to guarantee the best result in this segment, and by extension on the whole project.

With the IPD, the actors are called upon from the start, and the sooner the better, to work on the optimization of the project taken as a whole. In other words, the sectoral objectives, of the organization in silos, are replaced by a single objective, common to all.

The optimization of the operation comes precisely from this collective ambition, which arouses emulation and prevents resources from being allocated to individual objectives in conflict with each other, to the detriment of the project.

What is the interest of Integrated Project Delivery?

The interest of the IPD lies, as we have just seen, in its ability to create value, but also in the fact that it is interested in sharing this value, and that this sharing itself brings value to the table. . In this way, it answers the question we asked ourselves above to know which of the BIM actor or the MO should benefit in priority from the gains generated by BIM.

The IPD even answers this question in a global way, since it allows the actors collaborating in the realization of a project to share the risks, but also the gains.

To the question of knowing who will benefit from the optimization of the project, the answer will therefore be: everyone in predefined proportions via a compensation system. With this balanced organization of the sharing between risks and gains, the system naturally becomes more efficient and is part of a virtuous circle.

The practice has developed different methods of sharing, and studies offer detailed analyzes.[2].

What are the components of this collaborative approach?

The IPD applies to the main actors of a project, namely: the MO, the architect and the contractor, but other actors are called upon to complete this triptych. Depending on what you want to highlight, several descriptions can be given of the IPD, especially as the level of collaboration itself is variable.

Schematically, the following elements are found to varying degrees:

  • The players jointly bear the risks and together benefit from the gains
  • Risks and gains are shared equally with reference to three elements: the construction time, its cost and the quality of the project
  • The actors have an equivalent weight in the discussions (equal say) and work in complete transparency with each other (open book)
  • All decisions are made from a perspective best-for-project
  • A process of continous improvement is set up to promote optimal quality
  • The IPD is contractually formalized and is often associated with alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR)

How are BIM and Integrated Project Delivery articulated?

The joint is quite natural. BIM is in a way the means that allows the implementation of the IPD, since by its collaborative dimension it meets the need for mutualization of the IPD. To put it simply, with IPD, BIM is becoming essential.

More generally, and this has already been indicated, the similarities between the two are numerous. Moreover, in a way BIM almost intrinsically understands the issue of IPD. The M in the acronym BIM also translates to management, i.e. the management of the collaborative approach that leads to the production of the digital model.

What are the limits of Integrated Project Delivery?

Like all procedures, theIntegrated Project Delivery has limits[3]. Some evoke the size and complexity of the projects, others the need for the involvement of the contracting authority, or more simply the wish of stakeholders to be part of such an approach.

However, if the tool has limitations, it can boast some solid benefits that are widely recognized and have been financially evaluated.[4].

Last point: Can Integrated Project Delivery be translated into French?

Some speak of Integrated Project Delivery (RPI) or Integrated Project Delivery, the latter transcription appearing more accurate.

Now, the essential remains to appropriate the concept of IPD and to implement it, now if the translation of the concept can help, including adapting it to the French context, then why not!

David Richard

BIM Ambassador @ HEXABIM
Court lawyer - Doctor of Law
Lex Terra Lawyer |


[2] Lianying Zhang, Fei Li, "Risk / Reward Compensation Model for Integrated Project Delivery", Inzinerine Ekonomika-Engineering Economics, 2014, 25 (5), 558–567.

[3] What Are the Pros and Cons of Integrated Project Delivery? last accessed 22/02/2018.

[4] J. Gregerson, "Integrated project delivery saves time, cuts costs, shares rewards", Last accessed 22/02/2018.

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