Developing the Right Team for Success on Your Next Design-Build Project

by | Oct 4, 2021

Pursuing, winning, and successfully executing design-build projects requires having the right team in place for the project. The “right” team has the experience and diversity to foster creativity and increase the quality of solutions for the owner while identifying and addressing the unique challenges associated with the project.

Be Proactive

Developing the right team for a design-build project starts before the RFP for the project is released. Being proactive in building your project team is imperative to getting ahead of the competition and laying the foundation for project success.


It is important to allocate time and resources to internal and external strategizing. Within an organization, this means identifying the project ahead of bid solicitation and designating an internal team to take point on the design-build project with the owner and stakeholders. This team should focus on gaining a nuanced understanding of the expectations, challenges, and desired outcomes for the project.

Outside of an organization, this means having conversations with consultants to find a partnership that complements both firms, demonstrates a strong history or aptitude for collaboration, and combines strong, regional experience with the design-build owner and stakeholders.

Create a Project Pursuit Plan

Another important step in the pre-proposal process is the creation of the Project Pursuit Plan (PPP). The design-build team will develop a PPP to identify, evaluate, and track key scope elements, such as subcontractor selection and potential cost or schedule savings, to assist with project development. Understanding the project criteria “specifics” and the owner’s needs are critical to team selection since each partner will be chosen on their experience, knowledge, and proven track record for each project component.

Form Strong Partnerships

With proper advertising and a solid Project Pursuit Plan, you can begin the process of finalizing your project team, which will include design engineers and contracting partners. Knowing what to look for in design-build partners will ensure that you are prepared to successfully design, bid, and execute the project.

Partnering with a Qualified Design Consultant

Selection of the lead engineering design partners should the responsibility of the design-build manager. Selection should be driven by identifying qualified engineering partners who are experts in their field with proven experience in delivering solutions to challenging problems. Additional factors to consider are similar projects, regional experience, and a successful history of collaboration with the design-build owner and stakeholders. By teaming with design partners who are discipline experts, the design-build team demonstrates that they can deliver top-tier professional services that meet the specific requirements of the design-build project. Additionally, the team understands and is qualified to address the concerns of the owner and stakeholders. By teaming with design team members with similar project-specific experience, there is more opportunity to compare historical costs to the projected budget for greater cost certainty throughout the process.

Finding your Construction Partners

When assembling the construction team, it is important to partner with qualified trade subcontractors that have worked successfully with the owner on previous projects. Finding partners the owner recognizes and trusts is critical to providing a sense of competency beyond what can be stated within the proposal. By identifying and involving key subcontractors early in the design-build proposal, key constructability components can be highlighted to help the owner select the right team for their project.

Highlight Team Qualifications

Once the RFP has been issued, and with the right design and construction team in place, the final critical step to success is properly highlighting the team’s strengths and tying them to the owner’s needs—both those addressed in the RFP and those identified through proactive gathering of intel. Finding a way to incorporate the team selection criteria will demonstrate how and why each partner is part of the team and what value that can bring to the owner. The proposal needs to clearly identify why this team is the RIGHT  team for this design-build project and the work that is being requested. This will give the selection committee every reason to invite them to the short list or directly award.

After project award, the work that was done up front will continue to benefit all parties involved and will allow the project to move forward quickly and efficiently. Identifying, recruiting, and teaming with the right partners provides the tools to overcome any challenges that might arise during design or construction, resulting in successful project execution for the owner.

Gerry Torres, DBIA, Manager of Preconstruction & Estimating Services, PCL Construction

Gerry has 20+ years of hands-on experience in water and wastewater treatment projects, including estimating, preconstruction, and project operations on design-bid-build and collaborative delivery (design-build and CMAR) projects. He has an extensive background in cost-effective planning and has solid relationships with local and regional subcontractors and vendors. Gerry is also a certified design-build professional and has worked as the manager of preconstruction and estimating services at PCL Construction for the past three years.