Practices for Designing Cross-Functional Teams for Integrated Project Delivery

Jean Laurent, Robert M. Leicht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

For many years, project delivery methods have been studied in the construction industry to assess their impact on project performance, but few extend that focus to the effect of team composition and organization. However, many factors influence the need for integrated teams, as project needs change and new participants are added to the project. The objective of this study is to identify key organizational practices for the use of cross-functional teams in construction. Using a combination of expert interviews and case study observations, this paper presents the practices captured regarding the design of cross-functional teams and demonstrates how the case study project addressed each of the identified practices. Despite the limitations of generalizing findings inherent to a case study approach, it was necessary due to the limited opportunities to study integrated project delivery (IPD) projects. Cross-functional team performance in the case study has been assessed primarily by the capacity to meet commitments, both schedule and financial. The discussion reviews both the potential and the challenges for cross-functional team application outside of IPD contracts. This study finds that project teams should form cross-functional teams at the very early stages of the design in conjunction with a target value design approach. The cross-functional teams should engage interdisciplinary teams that focus on the main building or facility systems. While the number of teams varies with the project complexity, scope, and scale, the number is typically four to eight on most projects, and rarely more than 10. The suggested cross-functional team size is four to six people, with some variance based on the objectives and tasks they undertake. Leadership that brings a combination of cross-disciplinary knowledge to communicate effectively and strong facilitation skills, as well as the ability to coordinate with other cross-functional teams, is needed. Finally, the cross-functional organization combined with the IPD contract structure creates flexible capacity to allow the teams to evolve with the project needs, and to leverage the full potential of individuals to best suit the changing project dynamics with little administrative burden from contractual constraints inherent in other contractual arrangements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number05019001
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Volume145
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 3 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management

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