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Schematic design in the project lifecycle

At the end of the outline design stage, with the owner having formally approved the outline design for the project to proceed to the next stage, the next step is to get the schematic design stage going.

The schematic design stage involves developing the design across all the design disciplines in response to the approved outline design, which comprises the functional design brief and concept design. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

1. Manage the development of the schematic design
The design manager now needs to manage the design team in developing and delivering the schematic design for the project. S/he needs to monitor the compliance of the schematic design with the functional design brief and concept design as well as develop and review the design program and coordinate this with overall project program. S/he will also need to coordinate the development of the schematic design with the project procurement process.

The key deliverable at the end of this stage will be the schematic design report, which contains drawings and outline specifications for all design disciplines.

2. Schematic design cost plan
The design manager will need to manage and coordinate the development of the schematic design stage cost plan with the quantity surveyor, with input from all the relevant design consultants. Any major design decisions need to be identified to the quantity surveyor that could influence cost.

3. Identify design risks
The design manager needs to identify all design risks within the overall risk management framework and needs to analyse and manage design risks and update the risk register. The design team should design out risks where possible. The design manager needs to ensure safety in design requirements are followed by the design team.

4. Value engineering
This is the optimal time to arrange a value engineering workshop, including external peer reviewers to negate any ‘built in’ resistance to change and get a fresh perspective on the design.

Resulting from the workshop, the design manager should prepare a value engineering report and present this to the owner and implement any approved value engineering recommendations within the schematic design report or in the detailed design stage as appropriate.

5. Project approvals
The design manager needs to review and update the planning approval process and coordinate with the design process requirements in conjunction with the input from the design team. S/he also needs to manage the submission of any required planning approval applications by the design team.

6. Update the design management plan
The design manager needs to now review and update the design management plan as required catering for the current project circumstances.

7. Schematic design report
The design manager needs to coordinate the delivery of the schematic design report and present the report to the owner. The owner can see the design progress and provide any comments before moving onto the detailed design stage.

Once the schematic design report is approved by the owner, then the design manager can then proceed to the next stage of the project lifecycle: the detailed design stage.

Paul Sancandi is a senior design manager with InfraSol Group. He has a technical background as a structural engineer, owned an architectural and engineering practice and has worked in Australia, Asia and the Middle East on a wide range of small to mega projects over the past 32 years.
has written 25 articles for us.

Comments from the community

  • Emory Rhodes says:

    When starting a new project, a manager needs a list of diverse components that should lead him and his team to success. These components include personnel, resources, data, personal leadership characteristics, and many more.