GIRI Design Guide Preview: planning the design work

9 Aug 22

Creating and agreeing a project-specific plan of design work and clarifying roles and responsibilities across all disciplines are vital steps. Implemented early in any project, they can help to avoid errors further down the line. GIRI’s revised Design Guide sets out a number of practical steps to assist in this process.

Misunderstandings and misaligned expectations about the scope of services can lead to shortfalls both in design and in coordination of information, GIRI’s research has shown. This can impact all phases of the project and result in re-work, waste, delays, and increased costs.

It is essential that the design team is aligned by a coordinated design responsibility matrix and project-specific plan of work, which includes scope and deliverables by specialist designers and supply-chain members and, most importantly, is agreed by all parties.

Why is it important?
Clarifying roles and responsibilities is increasingly important as the number of specialist designers and contractors taking on management roles rises, and the supply chain becomes more involved in the design process. 

Different consultants may be appointed to work on different parts of the design or at different RIBA stages (for buildings). Every part and phase should be designed to deliver the best outcome for the project as a whole.

GIRI research found that the information provided to bidding design teams varies considerably. Some project enquiries offer considerable detail, others have very little on which to base fee proposals. As priced submissions can vary significantly based on the level of service or quality/completeness of design deliverables, clarity at this stage is essential.

Create a comprehensive and project-specific plan of work 
This helps to eliminate misunderstandings, highlight interfaces, and clarify design responsibilities at all stages of the project and across all disciplines. Key consultants should be involved in developing this, and it should also set out any design responsibilities of supply-chain members.

Develop a well-defined brief
A brief that is sufficiently developed and responds to the project requirements will ensure that any project-specific conditions have been given full consideration. More information about the briefing process

Provide comprehensive and unambiguous information at an early stage
Project enquiries should provide clear, comprehensive information to ensure fee proposals from consultants are directly comparable, and that they reflect the level of service required. This should include a short description of the scheme, its objectives/purpose/use, the client outline brief, the anticipated scope based on financial viability, budget, known constraints, and anticipated procurement route. You should also include proposed appointment terms.

Define roles in a scope of services document
The scope of services document should clearly define the roles and responsibilities of all designers and contractors and should be made available at the outset. This will eliminate any duplication or omissions in the services priced for and supplied. The document should include the duties at each stage of the project for each design discipline; the expected level of design by each discipline; the deliverables and details expected at each design stage milestone; and the format of the design deliverables including CAD and BIM requirements. 

Create and agree a design responsibility matrix
This should set out the relationship between each design discipline and the responsibility of each designer, and the design interfaces between designer and specialist sub-contractor designer/installer. It will ensure all parties are clear on their responsibilities and have confirmed their understanding.

Organise pre-project commencement workshops
These should take place on site between senior representatives to identify and resolve any potential issues.

Produce an outline project programme
This helps with project resourcing and fee calculations; feedback on feasibility of timescales should be encouraged. 

Assign an individual to manage the design process
It is vital that a relevant person is assigned to manage the design process at each stage. This will ensure the process of design is monitored effectively.

A more detailed discussion of planning the design work 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.

Guiding the design process

Stakeholder management

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