Leader: The industry is ready for IPI, but are clients?
Elaine Knutt, editor
Integrated Project Insurance (IPI) is hardly a new idea: it was proposed in the Government Construction Strategy 2011-15, and has a pre-history that stretches back to the turn of the millennium.
In many ways, it’s the successor to well-known exemplars of collaborative procurement, such as Building Down Barriers, the MOD’s Andover project, Heathrow Terminal 5. But it combines these ideas with a critical innovation – a new type of insurance that unites the various parties to the project rather than isolating them in their liability silos.
Judging by Construction Manager’s visit to the Advance II project in Dudley, the team delivering the IPI trial is delighted to be making construction history. Overall, their chief focus seemed to be the elimination of re-design and re-work in the procurement and design development stages, and also the reduction in the defensive attitudes that underlie so many interactions on a typical project. There was a weariness of hidden waste, resentment of hours spent defending claims, and the stress of wondering who would have your back if things went wrong.
The Dudley team were also keen to highlight the improved flow of BIM data, arguing that their streamlined, integrated team had achieved genuine Level 2 BIM, and other projects they had worked on had only delivered a simulation.
So is IPI destined to take hold? At the level of the individual experience, there is certainly a case for it. But it’s clients that have to make the committed and informed decision to adopt IPI. Clients aren’t immune to the “soft” case for IPI, but they will be driven by harder factors: quality and defects, the financial outcome, reducing risk. For them, IPI would be a leap of faith.
Plus, as currently put forward by its official mentor, Martin Davis’s IP Initiatives, IPI is complex and not straightforward to implement. There has been talk of an IPI “lite”, but it remains to be seen what this would look like.
As we explore in our vox pop, the industry has just shown it is capable of behavioural and cultural change in adopting BIM. The argument is that BIM, going forward to Level 3, will in fact need IPI, to erase the legal and liability borderlines between team members. But the two aren’t inextricably linked: most people’s instinct is to modify what already exists, rather than adopt new processes and contracts wholesale.
But what will make the difference, arguably, is the economy. BIM came to the fore in 2010/11, after years on the fringes, because the downturn focused attention on the need for new approaches. On the other hand, the history of offsite housing, was that enthusiasm waned as soon as house builders hit the high-profit boom. That’s one to leave you with.
Because this, in fact, is my last issue editing Construction Manager. I’ve had a great time, writing about a huge subject, and a fantastic industry. It will be for time to tell on IPI, and for colleagues to report.
Elaine Knutt, editor