What Challenges do Specifiers Face?

When I attended a Metro NY CSI planning meeting, we were discussing ideas for chapter programs. I was asked the question "What is the biggest problem you face as a specifier?" There was little thought needed. I hedged my bet and named two.

Realistic schedules and thoughtful, timely responses.

The explanation: if the design team and the specifier cooperate, keeping each other informed the stress of completing each project nearly disappears.

Total Team Commitment
We just completed our first two projects working with a new client. Both projects are in the same development and had many similarities. The schedule was extremely short. We jointly laid out the plan needed to complete on time. This design team was committed to meeting the schedule.

We met to review the project. The entire architectural design team for each project participated, explaining the unique features that must be specified. A single draft spec would be written for both projects. The unique aspects of each project would be individually flagged to identify the applicable project for the text.

One week later, the draft specifications were delivered for review with 10 pages of questions. Each team answered every question, coordinating their response to simplify our understanding. We had the responses by the end of the following day. We met, again with the entire team for both projects to review their responses that needed clarification.

The corrections were completed. Two project specifications were extracted automatically from the single set of draft specs using the flagging built into the documents.

Make Use of Available Tools
On another project, we worked with the firm owner before, but not with her new company. She was designing the renovation of an existing building for a new use. We began by adding the entire project team to our Basecamp web-based project management site, a tool we make available to every client. Everyone had access to all the project data and documents.

Our client began using Basecamp to an extent that none other had. We cooperatively added and edited the electronically shared data about product selections through the writeboard feature. This permitted real time interaction and provided up-to-date information to everyone. When anyone needed to see what had changed, we electronically compared any two versions.

Everyone received email notifications every time data was updated. This gave the opportunity to add comments and ask questions for clarification. The exchange was smooth and timely.

Where Was the Stress?
Our clients cooperated, fully. They met their project schedule, providing thoughtful information when needed.

Was there any stress? Of course there was, but minimal by comparison.  The stress of completing both of these projects was entirely under our control by simply managing our own work. Through the commitment and timely response of our clients plus the full use of the management resources we provided, these projects were perfect examples of cooperation and efficiency.

What About the Results?
When the process runs smoothly, the resulting quality is improved. Timely information allows the work to be completed correctly the first time. It is much easier to ensure documents are coordinated as they are initially developed.

We are confident the specifications for these projects are superior to most because the process worked. Now all we need do is continue duplicating the success.

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