GIRI Design Guide Preview: Information

12 Aug 22

Coherent and well-communicated design information is an integral part of any successful project. GIRI’s revised Design Guide makes recommendations for how to prevent incorrect, irrelevant, or poorly communicated design information leading to errors, including practical guidance on how to establish and implement a rigorous process for the production and communication of design information.

Every construction project needs reliable and timely access to accurate design information. Simple errors such as a hidden drawing layer, a mis-typed number in a spreadsheet, or an ambiguous email can have a disproportionate impact later down the line. Good quality design information is essential, as is effective communication of this information between all parties. 

Ensuring all design information is correct and clear is a considerable challenge. Drawings and models may be the standard method of communicating design intent or documenting a design, but the many other ways in which information is conveyed are just as important. The compilation and distribution of reports, specifications, notes, emails, text messages, and software for managing programmes must all be accurately executed and controlled.

Where the size and complexity of a project merits it, consider mandating the use of a digital environment. Every party involved in the design process should be appointed on this basis and the digital environment must meet industry standards. 

As a design evolves, multiple updates or revisions will be issued. A rigorous approach to the planning, production and checking of this information is required, which should be agreed at the outset of the project.  

Make a plan at the outset
Implement a four-step plan – agree, communicate, produce and check – to maximise the opportunity to spot design errors before they become construction errors. Designers should seek feedback from clients and construction teams about what works well and adapt accordingly.

Agree what information is necessary and when it is required
Identify the audience for the information, confirm why they need it, when it is needed, and when it will be issued, as well as where and how the audience will view and interpret the information. This will ensure that the right information is issued to the right people at the right time.

Establish a protocol for sharing design information
Design information will be shared for different purposes at different stages. Establish a protocol for issuing information and checking that the recipient understands it. This will ensure that information is communicated clearly and without the risk of misinterpretation.

Update design information at key stages
Update information as the design develops and ensure it is coordinated and correct at the end of each stage and other agreed milestones. A record should be made of any outstanding issues and when amendments are made, all related information should be reviewed and revised accordingly. 

Communicate the correct information clearly 
Design information should be communicated so it is easy to understand, easy to check, and hard to misinterpret. Feedback should be sought from those receiving design information to check its clarity. Refer to ‘benchmark’ drawings, for example those produced by BSRIA or previous projects to ensure there is a consensus about the ‘right’ level of information at each stage.

Produce the outputs 
The process of producing design outputs provides an opportunity to refine the design and spot potential errors. When designers produce their own drawings, there is likely to be a deeper understanding of the design intent. When technicians perform this role, it is important that they are part of the team rather than a resource shared between projects and they should be carefully briefed.  

Sufficient fee must be budgeted for designers to undertake full checks covering coordination, interfaces, annotation and so on.

Review outputs
All design team members should agree a checking process to ensure the information produced matches what was agreed and has been communicated effectively. Check that outputs follow these agreed processes before sending them. This provides an opportunity for picking up potential errors and/or to refine the design.

The implementation of digital engineering should make it easier to detect some potential errors, although it is unlikely to be effective at the early stages when the design is not as well-resolved. Finally, the team should agree a definition of ‘complete’ and ensure everyone understands it.

A more detailed discussion of design information is available in the revised GIRI Design Guide, which will be published later this year. Sign up to our newsletter to be notified once the guide is published.


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