Friday, December 6, 2019
Kowabunga Studios

3 Steps to Project Improvement

Welcome back! I’m glad that you’ve decided to create your own Revit content. It is really the way to go, it will fit you, the way you work and your needs. Think of custom Revit content like a well fitted suit/dress. You look sharp, feel good and want to conquer the world. Where to start? Let’s start with the framework. Having a framework and process will apply to any future project too. In future posts we will have more content to provide around single performance upgrades.

Step 1 – Analyze the workflow

What does the current workflow look like? How many times is this task done on each project? What is the scale impact? Is this for workflow (speed) or quality? Could this be handled by a template fix or should this be a family upgrade?

Let us break each of these down further.

Analyze the current workflow. How are projects currently put together? We all start with details and annotated sections right? Wrong. It is prevalent to skip steps, whether in design or in other aspects of the project life. However a lot of these are important to do in order. First program is examined to determine need and space requirements which informs the massing, scope and scale of the building. Once massing is well determined then we can zoom in on where program goes within the building and how that informs the design.

Now how does this transfer in Revit? Are your initial massing designs done in Revit or in another program? How are these being brought into the Revit model? Does everything need to be redrawn? All of these points need to be analyzed to determine if this portion of the workflow can be simplified to bring everything into a single platform.

Let’s say that everything is in Revit to make it easy for the sake of this conversation. Where does everything go from here? Is it a random workflow depending on who is screaming the loudest? Do you just work on the easy part of the plan? The hard part? Where is your attention?

All of these questions lead to something that I have never seen anyone address. What is the priority for the project? Where should I start first and what is needed most for the whole team and in priority order for the team? Engineering has different priorities than the Architectural team which is different than Structural or Site. Yet, if portions of the massing or program aren’t right that will affect everyone else. All decisions inform each other and leads us to the overall design of the building.

Having a list of priorities for the team will let each and every person know what is most important for the project. Then each discipline can have their own internal set of priorities based on the project priorities. From here each discipline can perform in the best interest of the team and the project, not just each individual.

Each step of the work flow should then be analyzed to put together who needs what from whom, when. This is no small task and many don’t take it on. Yet, think as a project manager, especially in a full service firm how this would help you to manage your team and help each team member be focused and know who they are holding up. We see these types of charts and schedules all the time in construction, but never on the design side. Let’s change this.

Now you are still asking how does this apply for Revit. For your specific project and workload this applies in how the project comes together. You have all the pieces you know every sheet that needs to be included in the set. Setting priorities for each sheet series and discipline now allows us to inform the design at the right times with the minimal amount of rework for the overall project.

As design professionals we have no real incremental costs to what we do. Everything is tracked in hours, time. How long does it take to do something, but our time is our currency. Typically there isn’t additional cash outlay for additional time. This just means we can’t get to all of the projects or complete design on time.

There is a lot of leg work here, but in the end, if used is worth the effort. Now we can move onto the next step and that is once you have identified the Revit family and portion of the workflow that needs the most attention.

Step 2: Modifying the Template or Family

When to modify the template or a Revit Family? This is a question that should always be asked. What criteria needs to be used in this analysis? There are a few always add to template items such as schedules, notes, legends, and I would go as far to say details. Typically details get left out that should be used. It is much easier to delete a detail view from a sheet rather than remember to put it on the sheet when in the thongs of a project.

Editing families and what modifications should be made. A common mistake I see placed into families is for that single instance that in reality is a rare occurrence. We as designers in the A/E profession need to think in terms of scale. We do a lot of large projects and a lot of manual process, not thinking about scale or when things change down the road. It is all in the here and now, not always thinking of the ramifications.

Let’s take wall types. For a given project what if instead of creating a 6″ wall and using that everywhere you have a 6″ wall no matter if they go to deck, just above ceiling or are a knee wall all of those instances are using the same type. What is you knew that the walls of a given space would go to deck for sound or fire rating and created a type called 6″-sound or 6″-90 minute. Now let’s say for the sound walls that they go away and become 6″ above ceiling instead of deck. You can now right click in Revit, select all instances in entire project and change the height to ceiling height +6″.

In the past you would have either just changed the plan note, which doesn’t help the model or any coordination that is needed with any other discipline above ceiling. Now within 3 clicks, setting up the types correctly from the beginning of the project you can make global changes that would have taken hours and now take minutes. Thought process and making decisions up front to save time on the backside will save you hours and late nights that you may or may not be getting paid for.

This is all in the theme of working smarter and not harder. Setting these families up from the beginning to succeed will be so worth it in the future of the project. Just take a breath and think about the changes or improvements to the project. So often there are dominos that we might not be thinking about or aware of within our Revit family setup. It is also best to consult others within the firm to see where your thinking might be flawed when editing families because it will change how things are done.

Step 3 – Rinse and Repeat

It is pretty simple in the macro. It is the details that become tough and making those individual decisions that affect your workflow. Yet having a map to look at where you are going will help determine the micro. These tiny decisions that have a huge impact on the project and the time of designers and the health of the project.

Taking a step back and really analyzing and spending the time to really look at what is happening needs to happen more. The ROI for these analysis will be apparent and making many 5% improvements build on themselves to where productivity can double and more projects can be done in a shorter time frame.

Easy from a high level, hard when on the ground and making these decisions. Good luck, you now have the map to improve your practice and make work life a little easier.

-Kowabunga Dudes!

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