Promoting collaborative working within the construction industry
The need to specify in a clear, concise but comprehensive way is as relevant to smaller projects as it is to large ones. However, the time taken may be seen as disproportionately large when set against the fees for a smaller project. The result can be a widespread re-use of text from previous projects with inadequate checking for relevance, currency and accuracy. All too often no thought is given to the time required for clarification and dispute resolution during the on-site phase.
Specifiers working in larger offices are likely to have better access to information systems and the support of specialist consultants. In smaller offices, it is likely that one or two designers will be responsible for documenting the whole project, possibly with some support from other consultants. Regardless of the size of the office, the short timescales and intermittent pattern of work on small projects mean that their designers are likely to be working on several 'live' projects at the same time, making it difficult to work in a controlled and systematic way.
Until recently computer systems for schedules of work were not available, so there has been great variability of content and format, office to office. Whilst word processing is the norm, the potential for use of more sophisticated IT has not yet been exploited. A more systematic approach to scheduling and specifying for smaller projects should lead to improvements in the quality of the information provided and also in the speed of production.
The use of a schedule of work system complying with this Code is recommended, to make the preparation of good quality schedules of work easier, to increase the office's control over it's schedule of work output, and to contribute to industry standardisation. Standardisation should ultimately lead to cost and time savings for both specifier and constructor.
Although schedule of work systems will principally be concerned with scheduling, they should also cover the production of preliminaries and reference specification.
The variability of work items and constructions means that a comprehensive library of descriptions from which to select is not feasible. Schedule of work systems therefore operate by inserting items into a framework rather than deleting clauses that are not required. The structure of the schedule of work is therefore vital as a checklist to identify the main areas of work to be specified. The constructions and work items are used to define the detail within this framework.
To be effective in use a schedule of work computer system should have the following features:
There is no substitute for high quality, up to date technical and product information when preparing the documents. The recommendations of Section 4.2.4 apply, but small offices, operating on a limited budget, may need to be more selective in acquisition of reference documents and information systems.