We all know Specifiers are responsible for documenting product decisions, but who should be making the decisions? When should product decisions be made? Why do people put off making product decisions? What general principles affect product decisions?
Fifty members of the CSI Specifying Practice Group shared ideas and experiences about deciding what products to specify in construction projects.
The group overwhelmingly indicated that they frequently have trouble getting design teams to make timely product decisions that they should be making.
One in-house specifier surprised the group, saying he never has difficulty getting decisions. The Reason: He IS the design team. Most specifiers are not that lucky.
Coercing timely decisions requires tact, especially when the decision maker is your employer. Product decisions for a firm principal may not be a priority item when working to submit a proposal, making payroll, or starting monthly billings.
Project managers, project architects, and other production personnel are often at the mercy of the designers for product decisions. The production staff understands the need to decide and document the products. However the designers resist commitment, especially early in the design process.
CADD was seen as a detriment to product decisions. It is easy to copy details from past projects, even when they don't fit the current project. Having the detail gives the impression the decision is made, when in fact, it is not. Erroneous details erode confidence in the documents and require additional time to discover the correct, undocumented information.
Only 10% of the group uses Preliminary Project Descriptions (PPD). Co-leader, Louis Medcalf, and I both promote the use of PPDs as a valuable tool to collect design data and decisions throughout the design process. Tables of Contents and Spec Work Plans were also promoted as other tools to help document decisions. All the tools work as checklists to help prompt and record decisions. And when developed early, these tools add the benefit of helping coordinate terms between the drawings and specifications.