The role and profile of a new group of industry professionals who coordinate design across projects and are key to driving forward the uptake of BIM is being brought into focus with the publication of a new book. The Design Manager’s Handbook discusses the role, processes, tools and skills that successful design managers need, and proposes a code of practice developed with the CIOB Faculty of Architecture and Surveying.
The handbook has been written by John Eynon, who chairs the CIOB’s Design Management Forum. He is hoping the book will help raise standards, create a better understanding of the role and bring a degree of uniformity of thought to the process of design management. The publication comes hot on the heels of the first CIOB conference on design management last October, and Eynon hopes to develop a learning and development framework and eventually a cross-industry special interest group.
Eynon argues that design managers are best placed to push the BIM agenda as the industry gears up to deliver all government projects using Building Information Modelling from 2016.
Design management has come to the fore on the back of the need for better co-ordination and delivery of information from design teams to main contractors, particularly on design and build contracts. The advent of design packages by specialist subcontractors has also increased the demand for the role.
The design management role can encompass overseeing internal and external design consultant teams, controlling the development of the design concept into manufacturing and managing the installation information. It’s about process and people management, requiring a blend of management, technical, people and communication skills.
“The role of design manager is a relatively new one,” said Eynon, “They might be project managers, bid managers, technical managers, design consultants. Sometimes it’s part of a site management role or package manager role. But wherever the design and delivery of a project is happening, there is design management. In its purest sense, it’s about information management.”
To Eynon, this is what anoints design managers as the natural occupiers of the BIM manager role, coordinating the creation and development of models by the rest of the project team. “Design managers are ideally placed, as one of few disciplines with a very broad and full understanding of the entire project process. When BIM is business as usual, maybe we won’t talk about design managers and BIM managers – it’ll just be a project manager or some other title that someone’s come up with.”
But with everything to play for, other disciplines could just as easily take over. “With the right skills and training it could be anybody – a project manager, surveyor, architect, contractor, the supply chain or even a client. BIM will open up the possibility of crossover between disciplines, but it will also enable other disciplines to come into our territory. We’ll see a lot of blurring of roles. Within a generation, BIM could potentially change the shape of everything.”
What that change will look like – and exactly what it will mean for design managers – is exactly the kind of discussion that Eynon hopes Design Manager’s Handbook will kick off.
All of the leading UK contractors have design management teams to some extent. Due to its position, DM sits very closely with other roles in project teams, such as bid management, estimating, pre-construction management, project planning and programming. In addition, this can include being “client facing”, for instance dealing with briefing, and managing compliance with the Employer’s Requirements.
On-site DM roles are much more construction information focused, maintaining and co-ordinating the flow of design to enable construction work to proceed efficiently, as well as facilitating cost control and buildability review processes.
People enter into this role from all sorts of backgrounds including architects, technologists, engineers, surveyors, administrators, construction managers, and site managers. Job titles are extremely variable, and so are qualifications — ranging from none, through construction and design degrees, to BTEC/ONC/HNC. There are now a few bespoke DM degree courses available in the UK.
Design Manager’s Handbook by John Eynon is published by Wiley Blackwell. It is available to download as an e-book now or in print from 22 February.