Understanding Design-Build. Pt. 2 - The Procurement Process
Following our initial discussion of the Design-Build methodology in Part 1, this segment focuses on understanding the stages and aspects of the Design-Build procurement cycle.
Design-build procurement is a strategic process beginning with pre-positioning ahead of project announcements and extending through detailed proposal development. Teams must demonstrate technical aptitude and creative problem-solving from the Request for Qualifications to the interactive Request for Proposals stage. Success hinges on presenting a compelling narrative highlighting the team's unique strengths and innovative approaches beyond cost considerations.
When a Design-Build project is announced, it culminates years of preparation by the owner. Firms sometimes scramble to react when projects "hit the streets," but strategic positioning starts long before this point. Successful engagement involves early interaction with the client or agency, identifying partnerships and solidifying teaming agreements, and onboarding an Alternative Delivery Specialist like Mission Critical. Our firm excels in these early stages, leveraging our experience to assist our clients in gaining early and strong traction on logistics, teaming, and knowledge building. As a result, our clients are better prepared to focus on the technical aspects of the upcoming pursuit.
Step 1 - Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and Shortlisting
In the past decade, RFQs have expanded to incorporate requests for preliminary project solutions in addition to outlining the strengths and experience of the team. This shift means proposer teams must demonstrate their collective intelligence and creative approach, not just their qualifications. In our role as Pursuit Managers, Mission Critical ensures the final SOQ meets the requirements and captivates the reviewer's interest and attention.
The RFQ phase is a critical juncture where reliance on "boilerplate" narratives and standard resumes can undermine even the most competent team's efforts. At Mission Critical, we excel in delving into your team's distinct experiences and innovative strengths. Our approach involves translating these unique attributes into compelling, high-impact content that meets scoring criteria and distinguishes your team as the foremost contender in the competitive Design-Build landscape.
Step 2 - Request for Proposals (RFP)
The RFP phase is more interactive, often requiring proposers to seek client approvals for innovative designs, construction sequencing, or alternate materials. Developing Alternative Technical Concepts (ATCs) and confidential meetings with the agency or private entity are common and align the proposer's ideas with the client's expectations. With designs often required to be 60% complete, the emphasis on innovation is paramount.
The RFP stage includes the integration of specialized subconsultants and subcontractors, enhancing the team's overall expertise. Our role as pursuit managers is crucial here, converting the team's technical knowledge and innovative approaches into persuasive proposal content. We focus on creating a strategic narrative that translates the team's ideas and approaches into a clear, concise, and compelling explanation of how we meet the technical demands of the project while ensuring compliance with regulations and limiting impacts to people and communities.
The RFQ and RFP phases frequently incorporate team interviews within the scored criteria for selection. Mission Critical's Peak Preparation program, tailored for construction and engineering professionals, emphasizes moving beyond standard PowerPoint deliveries. We use our dual expertise as technical writers and presentation coaches to help teams and individuals actively engage with review committees, showcasing their expertise instead of leaning on scripted dialogues.
Proposal Evaluations and Scoring
While the price proposal is important, a well-written proposal demonstrating the team's ability to minimize project risks, positively engage with stakeholders and the public, and manage environmental standards and other regulatory requirements can heavily impact point allocations, even if the team's price proposal is not the lowest. We've seen instances where the strength of the technical recommendation, the team's experience, and the innovative approaches outlined have outweighed cost considerations. For Mission Critical, this starts with articulating a compelling story, underlining why our client's proposal provides the best value to the client overall.
Selection and Contracting
The project owner selects the contractor that presents the proposal best aligned with the project's goals, and they enter into a single contract for both design and construction services. This phase often involves negotiations to fine-tune project specifics.
The Design-Build methodology offers owners streamlined project delivery, cost savings through integrated design and construction phases, enhanced communication with a single point of contact, and reduced risks due to shared responsibilities, leading to faster project completion and potentially higher quality outcomes. Navigating its procurement process, however, requires a depth of understanding and strong best practices to be successful.
As strategic allies through the process, Mission Critical's team helps you to navigate the intricate procurement phases with expertise, transform technical depth into compelling proposals, and articulate your unique strengths confidently—positioning your team not just as participants, but as frontrunners in the competitive Design-Build environment.
For firms new to the Design-Build landscape or those aiming to enhance their current practices, don't hesitate to get in touch with RoAnn Thorne to discuss upcoming opportunities.