Constructability Implementation (Best Practice)

RT-034 Topic Summary
RT 034


CII defines constructability as “the optimal use of construction knowledge and experience in planning, design, procurement, and field operations to achieve overall project objectives.”

The benefits of an effective constructability program include:

  • Reduces overall project cost by 4.3% on average
  • Reduces overall project schedule by 7.5% on average
  • Improves project quality (maintainability, reliability, and operability)
  • Improves project safety, security, and environmental impact
  • Minimizes rework and rescheduling on the project

Companies with formal constructability programs will likely have cost effective construction on their projects due in part to greater teamwork and communications. To achieve maximum benefit from the constructability program, it should be introduced early in the project and continued throughout the design and construction phases.

Commitment to constructability is the responsibility of the entire team; however, the owner is the driving force behind the success of the program. Companies should assess their current constructability program, identify the barriers, eliminate the barriers, and propose methods for overcoming barriers to constructability and evaluate preferable barrier breakers.

Most knowledgeable industry professionals agree that constructability is key to project success. Savings associated with effective constructability programs represent a 10:1 return on the owner’s investment in the constructability effort.

The CII 2003 BM&M Value of Best Practices Report states that from the contractors’ perspective, Constructability Implementation ranks:

  • Second in schedule reduction impact – Thus, project managers should aggressively implement Constructability on schedule-driven and schedule-critical projects.
  • Third in cost savings impact – The message is clear: If cost performance success is an objective, don't neglect constructability.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Constructability Implementation Roadmap

This roadmap presents the recommended comprehensive approach to implementing constructability by identifying 20 steps within these six milestones:

  • Commit to implementing constructability – 4 steps
  • Establish corporate constructability program – 3 steps
  • Obtain constructability capabilities – 4 steps
  • Plan constructability implementation – 4 steps
  • Implement constructability – 3 steps
  • Update corporate program – 2 steps

Milestones 1 and 2 outline the Corporate Program, Milestones 3, 4, and 5 outline the Project Program, and Milestone 6 outlines the Updating Program process. The Constructability Implementation Roadmap also provides details for each of the 20 steps in the research. (RS34-2, p. 6)

Reference: (RS34-2)

2 : Barriers to Constructability

A “barrier” to constructability is any significant inhibitor that prevents the effective implementation of the constructability program. Barriers exist among owners, designers, and constructors, and can be broken into four categories: cultural barriers, procedural barriers, awareness barriers, and incentive barriers. Once barriers are identified, they may be mitigated or overcome. Tactics recommended to remove these common barriers are included in the research. Researchers have identified the 18 most common barriers to constructability, including the five most common barriers shown below as an example. (SP34-1, Second Edition, p. 17)

  • Complacency with status quo
  • Reluctance to invest additional money and effort in early project stages
  • Limitations of lump-sum competitive contracting
  • Lack of construction experience in design organization
  • Designers’ perception that “we do it”

Barrier assessment checklist tools are included as part of the Constructability Implementation Guide, which is described later under the section on Implementation Tools.

Reference: (SP34-1)

3 : Construction Costs Influence

The ability to influence construction costs over the life of the project is greatest when constructability is introduced early in the project. The influence of constructibility implemented during the construction phase is less significant than when implemented during conceptual design, procurement, or design phases. (SD-82, p. 10) 

Constructability can still influence final project cost during field operations. “Innovative construction method” is a term used when referring to construction methods that are not common practice across the industry but can influence costs or schedule. Two examples of the many innovative construction methods found in the research are: 

  • Innovative sequencing of field tasks
  • Innovative temporary facilities supportive of field methods
Reference: (SD-82)

4 : Lessons Learned Database

The research recommends that a Lessons Learned database be developed and maintained as part of a Constructability Implementation Program. Feedback on the constructability programs should occur during construction and at the conclusion of the project. An LLP database related to field constructability is necessary to improve on constructability. The database should be updated with the developments from each project. Organizations may elect to establish a highly visible award/recognition system in support of their LLP. (SP34-1, Second Edition, p. 29)
Reference: (SP34-1)

5 : Constructability Program Maturity

The research identified these five levels of program maturity. Levels 3, 4, and 5 all characterize varied degrees of successful constructability results. Level 5 is obviously the preferred and recommended level of constructability implementation and may be viewed as a benchmark or “best in class.” Only at this Level 5 stage of effort may the full benefits of constructability be realized. (SP34-1, Second Edition, p. 1)

  • Level 1 – No Program
  • Level 2 – Application of Selected Supports
  • Level 3 – Informal Program
  • Level 4 – Formal Program
  • Level 5 – Comprehensive Formal Program

To find where an organization fits in the constructability implementation program, the organization should perform a corporate self-assessment and identify the objectives of their constructability program and the objectives of the project. The assessment will identify or clarify the objectives of the constructability program, identify the benefits of the current program and the program in the future, define areas of improvement, as well as identify the current level of the organization’s constructability program.

Reference: (SP34-1)

6 : Implementation Tool #1

 SP34-1, Constructability Implementation Guide, Second Edition

This Guide is structured in four parts. The Guide offers a complete set of 17 tools that address both corporate- and project-level constructability programs.

  • Part I – A Corporate-Level Constructability Program
  • Part II – A Project-Level Constructability Program 
  • Part III – Constructability Implementation Tools 
  • Part IV – Case Studies
Reference: (SP34-1)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved quality (reduced errors & omissions), Reduced change, Reduced/improved Risk, Improved safety, Improved predictability

Research Publications

Constructability Implementation Guide, Second Edition - SP34-1

Publication Date: 12/2006 Type: Special Publication Pages: 154 Status: Tool

Preview of Constructability Implementation - RS34-2

Publication Date: 02/1993 Type: Research Summary Pages: 26 Status: Archived Supporting Product

Constructability: Program Assessment and Barriers to Implementation - SD-85

Publication Date: 01/1993 Type: Source Document Pages: 179 Status: Reference

Project-Level Model and Approaches to Implement Constructability - SD-82

Publication Date: 10/1992 Type: Source Document Pages: 224 Status: Reference

Presentations from CII Events

Session - Constructability

Publication Date: Presenter: Number of Slides: 68 Event Code: PIW907