Successful Design Management for the 6 Stages of Design of Infrastructure and Building Projects

Design Management

Design Management seeks to establish project management practices that are primarily focused on enhancing the design process. For Infrastructure and Building projects the successful implementation of Design Management throughout the entire Project Life Cycle can represent the difference between a superior outcome for the project in terms of Quality, Timing, Cost and Value or failure, given the complexity of Infrastructure and Building projects in today’s environment.

Design Management is however primarily focused on the Design Process within the project framework and as such is only a part of the overall Project Management of a project, albeit a critical part of the project.

If you are going to be a successful Design Manager and achieve superior outcomes for both your clients and your own business, you cannot manage design haphazardly and expect consistent results. You must manage design projects by undertaking a proven stage by stage process. This brief article outlines those stage by stage processes and gives the Design Manager a guide to successfully design managing Infrastructure and Building projects. The Design Management role is considered in this article in the context of an in-house or consultant client side Design Manager and not a Design Manager within the design team itself. It is also on the basis of a fully documented Design and Construct only contract.

Stage 1: Early Design Management Involvement-Statement of Need

The output for this stage will be a Design Report that will directly feed into the Client’s Statement of Need and overall Business Case.

Early involvement to the Project Life Cycle is important but this may need to be reinforced with the Client to appreciate and understand the benefits this will provide. There are several key tasks during this stage:

1.1 Obtaining and Assessing all the available key design Information

  • Collation of all available data and information
  • Visit the site
  • Review contract as related to design aspects
  • Review the level of the design that has been prepared to date
  • Evaluate information and highlight critical issues
  • Review findings with Client
  • Assess the team capability requirements and resourcing
  • Assess any spend on fees required at this stage
  • Engage consultant as required to provide required technical and project inputs to assist the preparation of the design report.

1.2 Design Risk Review

  • Identify design risks and create a Design Risk Register
  • Identify any Safety in Design issues
  • Analyse and provide suggestions for risk mitigation for ongoing stages
  • 1.3 Design Report Input to Statement of Need
  • Prepare draft of design report input into the Statement of Need report and review with Client
  • Prepare final Design Report component into the Statement of Need report

Stage 2: Design Management during the Outline Design Stage

With the Statement of Need or Business Case formally approved for the project to proceed, the next step is to get the Outline Design Stage going.This stage involves clearly defining the Client requirements and project needs so as to form a sound foundation for the design process to proceed and is the right time to engage consultants and set up the formal Design Management process. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

2.1 Define Client design requirements and project design needs

  • Gather all available and updated project data from the Client.
  • Identify any gaps in the information provided.
  • Meet with the Client to review the information provided and identify additional information required.
  • 2.2 Engage Design Consultants
  • Engage all the key consultants that are required to develop the Functional Design Brief. It is critical that the consultant’s scope of work is clear for the level of input required and clearly noted in their Contract.

2.3 Prepare Functional Design Brief

  • Manage and coordinate the consultant team to deliver the Functional Design Brief that will respond to and record all the client requirements and needs and form the basis to proceed for all disciplines.
  • The Functional Brief will generally be supported by Concept design sketches that provide an outline of the proposed design.

2.4 Prepare the Design Management Plan (DMP)

The DMP provides the roadmap for the way the design will be managed and needs to be prepared at this stage of the design process for best results. The DMP is a component of the Project Management Plan prepared by the Project Manager.

The key Design headings in a DMP are as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Project Overview
  • Objectives
  • Process and related procedures
  • Status
  • Documentation & Deliverables Schedule
  • Value Engineering
  • Reviews
  • Change Management
  • Independent Third Party Checks, Permits
  • Quality Management
  • Client Approvals
  • Close Out & As Built Record

2.5 Outline Cost Plan

  • Manage and coordinate the development of the Outline Cost Plan with the Quantity Surveyor, with input from all the relevant consultants.

2.6 Identify Design Risks

  • Identify Design Risks within the overall Risk Management framework.
  • Analyse and manage risks and update the Risk Register, design out risks where possible.
  • Ensure Safety in Design requirements are followed.

2.7 Value Management

  • Arrange a Value Management workshop. Value Management is a systematic review of the essential functions or performance of a project to ensure that best value for money is achieved. It takes an overall view of the function of the project as well as capital and recurrent costs.
  • Prepare a Value Management Report and implement recommendations.

2.8 Project Approvals

  • Outline and define the planning approval process and coordinate with the design process requirements.

Stage 3: Design Management during the Schematic Design Stage

With the Outline Design Stage formally approved for the project to proceed to the next stage, the next step is to get the Schematic Design Stage going. This stage involves developing the design across all the disciplines in response to the approved Functional Design Brief. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

3.1 Manage the Development of the SchematicDesign

  • Manage the team in developing the Schematic Design.
  • Monitor the compliance of the Schematic design with the Functional Design Brief.
  • Review Design Programme and coordinate with overall project programme.
  • Coordinate the development of the Schematic Design with the project procurement process.
  • Manage the preparation of the Schematic Design Report which contains drawings and outline specifications for all disciplines.

3.2 Schematic Design Cost Plan

  • Manage and coordinate the development of the Schematic Cost Plan with the Quantity Surveyor, with input from all the relevant consultants.
  • Identify any major design decisions to the Quantity Surveyor that could influence cost.

3.3 Identify Design Risks

  • Identify Design Risks within the overall Risk Management framework.
  • Analyse and manage risks and update the Risk Register, design out risks where possible.
  • Ensure Safety in Design requirements are followed.

3.4 Value Engineering

  • Arrange a Value Engineering Workshop, including external peer reviewers to negate any “built in” resistance to change and get a fresh perspective
  • Prepare a Value Engineering Report and present to the Client and implement approved Value Engineering recommendations within the Schematic Design Report or in the detailed design stage as appropriate.

3.5 Project Approvals

  • Review and update the planning approval process and coordinate with the design process requirements.
  • Manage the submission of any required Planning Approval Applications.

3.6 Update the DMP

  • Review and update the DMP as required catering for the current project circumstances.

Stage 4: Design Management during the Detailed Design Stage

With the Schematic Design Stage formally approved for the project to proceed to the next stage, the next step is to get the Detailed Design Stage going. This important stage involves developing the design to tender and construction across all the disciplines in response to the approved Schematic Design Report. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

4.1 Manage the Development of the Detailed Design

  • Manage the team in developing the Detailed Design ready for tender including as required coordination meetings between disciplines experiencing coordination difficulties and the exchange of progress design drawings and specification for proper inter-disciplinary coordination.
  • Manage changes and variations.
  • Monitor the compliance of the Detailed Design with the Schematic Design Report, Value Engineering recommendations and the Functional Design Brief.
  • Review Design Programme and coordinate with overall project programme
  • Coordinate the development of the Detailed Design with the project procurement process including early issue of documents to the Quantity Surveyor to start the Bill of Quantities. Any “shortcuts” in the deliverables to accommodate the tender programme need to be fully understood and agreed
  • Coordinate the inputs to the development of the Contract documents being prepared by the Project Manager
  • Consider the requirement for lead disciplines that are producing background and base drawings, such as architects on building projects, to complete these ahead of the supporting engineering disciplines, so as to allow the supporting disciplines adequate time to complete their dependent work. The team cannot realistically work effectively all in parallel to deliver all at the same time without some lag with the lead discipline. It also allows time for the lead consultant to review the documentation from the dependent disciplines. Allow adequate time in the design programme for this lag in completion and coordination.

4.2 Detailed Design Cost Plan and Pre Tender Estimate

  • Manage and coordinate the development of the Detailed Cost Plan with the Quantity Surveyor, with input from all the relevant consultants.
  • Identify any major decisions to the Quantity Surveyor.
  • Prepare for the Pre Tender Estimate (PTE).
  • Take any required action if the PTE is in excess of the Detailed Design Cost Plan.

4.3 Identify Design Risks

  • Identify any additional Design Risks within the overall Risk Management framework.
  • Analyse and manage any remaining risks and update the Risk Register, design out risks where possible
  • Ensure Safety in Design requirements are followed

4.4 Peer Review and Value Engineering

  • Arrange for the drawings and specifications that are being prepared for Bill of Quantities or that are at 90% completion to be issued for external Peer Review to review the “tender readiness” of the tender documents for each of the disciplines. This is also the time to review the consistency of the presentation of the documents across all disciplines and the adherences to project protocols such as title sheet formats, sheet sizes, drawing extents and overlaps, drawing scales, document numbering and revision notation.
  • As part of the Peer Review, Value Engineering of the detailing within the tender documentation should be undertaken at the same time to ensure the detailed design is the most efficient possible.
  • Manage the peer review responses and issue to the team to respond to the comments and incorporate the recommended and agreed comments or mark ups. Allow adequate time in the design programme for this important process.

4.5 Project Approvals

  • Review and update the planning approval process and coordinate with the design process requirements.
  • Manage the submission of any required Planning Approval Applications.
  • Obtain any required certification from the consultants.
  • Manage any required inputs to obtain the required Planning and Building approvals.

4.6 Update the DMP

  • Review and update the DMP as required to cater for the current project circumstances
  • 4.7 Tender Readiness Report
  • Prepare Tender Readiness report to the Client recommending issue to tender including any project issues or risks and the PTE.

Stage 5: Design Management during the Tender Stage

With the Detailed Design Stage Tender Readiness Report formally approved for the project to proceed to Tender, the next step is to arrange the design documents to be issued for tender. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

5.1 Prepare Design Documentation for Tender

  • Manage the team in delivering the documents as per the DMP at the required time in the required hardcopy and soft copy formats to the required locations.
  • Collate the required document transmittals.

5.2 Housekeeping

  • Take the opportunity to catch up with housekeeping of files on the server, in local drives and hardcopies.

5.3 Tender Technical Queries and Clarifications

  • Manage all incoming tender technical queries and clarifications during the tender period and arrange responses from any of the team where required.
  • Participate in any Tender clarification meetings with the contractor as requested by the Project Manager.

5.4 Addendums

  • Manage any design and documentation requirement for addendums that are required due to omissions from the Tender due to time constraints or from new Client requirements.

5.5 Tender Evaluation

  • Manage all required technical tender review and evaluation inputs from the team to allow the tender to be evaluated from a technical perspective.
  • Where required prepare a technical evaluation report and deliver to the Project Manager.
  • Participate in any negotiation meetings where technical matters require further clarification and arrange appropriate technical inputs from team.

5.6 Manage Consultants

  • Manage the finalisation of design related fees and any outstanding variations and claims.

Stage 6: Design Management during the Construction Stage

With the Tender formally awarded and on the assumption that the Project Manager will typically manage the construction phase delivery of the project, then the role of Design Manger will generally be reduced during this stage to a support role only or where required due to incomplete or ongoing design development resulting from client variations or changes made during tender negotiations. The following are some of the key tasks in this stage:

6.1 Issue Approved For Construction(AFC) documents

  • Manage the team in delivering the AFC documents as per the DMP at the required time in the required hardcopy and soft copy formats to the required locations.
  • Collate the required document transmittals

6.2 Housekeeping

  • Take the opportunity to complete the housekeeping of files on the server, in local drives and hardcopies

6.3 Outstanding Design

  • Manage the team in delivering any outstanding design due to client changes or changes resulting from tender negotiations

6.4 Manage Contractor Design Submissions

  • Subject to the complexity of the design, assist the Project Manager to manage the team in reviewing and responding to any contractor designs.

Design Management in Action

The above methodology represents a general approach for Design Managing Infrastructure and Building Project. This methodology has been applied successfully to numerous projects undetaken by the author, however as any Design Manager will know, every project is different and every design and project team is generally comprised of different team members.

The key to making the above methodology work is studying, applying and start implementing it to suit your particular project. It offers focus and a clear direction for any design for an Infrastructure or Building project to achieve a superior outcome for your Client and your own business.