Jessica Kelley, project manager for Southland Industries, says Sutter Health’s relational contract encourages team members to build mutual trust quickly because of its shared risks and rewards. Dave Kievit, an executive vice president in the Boldt Co.’s Fairfield, Calif., office, says Sutter’s integrated form of agreement seems too good to be true.

Both Kelley and Kievit should know what they are talking about. The San Jose, Calif.-based design-build mechanical contractor and Boldt are part of Sutter’s lean-plus team, finishing work on the first Sutter project to use its integrated form of agreement (IFOA) from beginning to end: the $19-million medical office building for the Sutter Regional Medical Foundation, in Fairfield.

Related Links:
  • Sutter Health Unlocks the Door to A New Process
  • Lean Gurus See Big Gains in Use of Lean Project Delivery
  • Sutter Contract Is ‘Lean’ Enabler
  • Southland is a lean construction veteran, but Kievit says he had trouble with some of the other subcontractors on the job.  “The subcontractor community says they want to get more involved and the IFOA and lean process allow that,” says Kievit. But he adds, “It can become one of those cases of ‘be careful what you ask for.’”

    His colleague’s hesitation aside, Paul Reiser, a Boldt vice president, calls Sutter’s lean crusade a cultural transformation. “The IFOA doesn’t support Lean Project Delivery as much as it requires it,” says  Reiser.

    As with most transformations, there are adjustments. In an IFOA, processes, governance, format of invoicing and time of payments are all designed by the core group rather than dictated by owner. “It’s a different process for the general contractor, the architect and the subs, but it’s a step in the right direction,” says Kievit.