Last edited 27 Sep 2016

Design management for construction projects


[edit] Introduction

Design is the process of creating a solution to a project brief and then preparing instructions allowing that solution to be constructed.

In order that project budgets can be satisfied, programmes achieved, and designs properly co-ordinated and communicated, the design process needs to be planned and controlled. Problems can occur where there is missing information, poorly communicated information, inconsistencies between documentation, poor resource allocation, poor decision making due to inadequate information and so on.

These difficulties have become more prevalent as buildings have become more technical, the range of products and materials has increased, standards and regulations have become more strict, and there are a greater number of specialist designers, particularly in the early stages of the design process.

For more information, see Designers for buildings and other built assets.

Design management (DM) is the process of managing design through the project lifecycle.

[edit] Client engagement and control

The client must be properly engaged in the design process with consistent and timely information delivered to and received from the design team.

At its most basic level, design can be seen as an iterative process, where, at each iteration, there are inputs, there is a design process and then there are outputs. At the end of each iteration the outputs are reviewed and then the process begins again. Typically this is structured by establishing a series of 'gateways', at which the client assesses the state of development of the project and considers; whether it satisfies their strategic objectives, that it is affordable, that value is being delivered, and that risks are acceptable. They can then decide whether to progress to the next stage.

If such a process is not introduced, there is a tendency for projects to gradually wander off course, with programme, budget and brief diverging.

For more information, see Gateways.

This control process can be refined further by processes such as building information modelling (BIM). BIM identifies explicitly the decisions and information deliverables required at each stage of the project. This ensures that appropriate information is created and shared in a suitable format at the right time so that better decisions can be made.

[edit] Organisation

It is important the scope of work for each member of the design team is clearly defined, documented and communicated to the rest of the team prior to any design work starting.

Typically, one member of the design team is appointed as 'lead designer' to direct and co-ordinate other designers in the consultant team as well as any specialist designers that are appointed. The lead designer will often be the architect, however this is not necessarily the case and appointment documents for other consultants will generally offer provision for them the be nominated lead designer.

The role of lead designer might include:

Team leadership is essential for ensuring the effective performance of the design team. Each team member will have their own strengths and weaknesses, specialist knowledge and experience. The way that the team works collaboratively and independently will influence the efficiency of the design process.

For more information, see Lead designer.

Other appointments might include:

[edit] Collaborative working

Establishing collaborative practices is of particular importance on building design and construction projects, as they are likely to involve bringing together large number of diverse disciplines, many of whom will not have worked together before. They are also likely to involve the co-ordination and integration of a great deal of complex information, procedures and systems. This has become increasingly true as project structures have evolved from straight-forward client - consultant - contractor relationships to more integrated structures with complex financing arrangements, early engagement of the supply chain and the introduction of sub-contractor and supplier design.

For more information, see Collaborative practices.

[edit] Design manager

Design managers initially emerged in contractor organisations as they started undertaking a portion of design, which involved their specialist sub-contractors.

The design manager has an enabling and co-ordinating role, but is not acting as a designer themselves. The role should not be confused with the lead designer, who heads the decision making and co-ordination of the actual design, or with the lead consultant, who directs the work of the entire consultant team.

The main tasks of the design manager are to:

  • Establish a platform for good communication and collaboration between relevant parties and thereby an effective flow of design and production information.
  • De-risk design problems by finding solutions before they materialise.
  • Contribute to planning and co-ordination in a way that adds value to the processes.
  • Prepare, manage and secure all-party ownership of an integrated design programme.

This requires a great deal of experience, and it is important that design managers are good forward planners, capable of managing project timescales, and with the requisite knowledge for ensuring the design process is in accordance with current legislation, standards and codes of practice.

For more information, see Design manager.

[edit] Design management plan

A design management plan can be used to co-ordinate design activities, and might include:

For more information, see Design management plan.

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[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references