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Processing detailed design for project managers

Paul Sancandi
June 20, 2012

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

This important design stage involves developing the design to tender and construction across all the design disciplines in response to the approved schematic design report. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

1. Manage the development of the detailed design
The design manager now needs to manage the design team in developing the detailed design ready for tender, including facilitating coordination meetings between disciplines experiencing any coordination difficulties and ensuring timely exchange of progress design drawings and specifications for proper inter-disciplinary coordination as required.

Other key tasks now include:

  • Manage design 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 program and coordinate with overall project program.
  • 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 design deliverables to accommodate the tender program need to be fully understood and agreed with the design manager.
  • Coordinate the design 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 dependant work. The design team cannot realistically work effectively all in parallel to deliver all at the same time without some time lag with the lead discipline. It also allows time for the lead consultant to review the design from the dependent design disciplines. Allow adequate time in the design program for this time lag in design completion and coordination.

2. Detailed design cost plan and pre-tender estimate
The design manager needs to manage and coordinate the development of the detailed design 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.

The quantity surveyor around this time will prepare the pre-tender estimate. The design manager needs to take any required action if the pre-tender estimate is in excess of the detailed design cost plan.

3. Management of design risks

The design manager needs to identify and manage any additional design risks within the overall risk management framework. S/he needs to analyse and manage any remaining design risks and update the risk register with the design team designing out risks where possible and ensuring safety in design requirements are followed by the design team.

4. Peer review and value engineering
The design manager needs to arrange for the drawings and specifications that are being prepared for bill of quantities or that are at or near 90% completion, to be issued for external peer reviewers to review the ‘tender readiness’ of the design 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 design possible.
Management the peer review responses and issue to the design team to respond to the comments and incorporate the recommended and agreed comments or mark ups will be required. Allow adequate time in the design program for this important process.

5. Project approvals
In conjunction with the design team, the design manager needs to review and update the planning approval process and coordinate with the design process requirements. S/he needs to carefully manage the submission of any required planning approval applications and obtain any required certification of design from the design consultants. S/he also needs to manage any required inputs to obtain the planning and building approvals.

6. Update the design management plan

Review and update the design management plan as required catering for the current project circumstances.

7. Tender readiness report
The design manager needs to now prepare the tender readiness report to the owner, recommending issue of the design to tender including any project issues or risks and the pre-tender estimate.

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

Paul Sancandi
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.
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