Wot I said in……..2011 – Let’s hear it for the Design Manager!

I was just nosing around as you do. I came across an article that I contributed to in 2011, written by Denise Chevin, about Design Management!

You can read the full article here:

Let’s hear it for the Design Manager

Wot I said was – 

Acting as the intermediary between construction and design teams can be an underrated role. Denise Chevin reports on a new CIOB-backed plan to raise its status.

It’s not the kind of role that is showered in glory. But projects that don’t have a good design manager soon know it. The contractor runs out of information and is left standing idle. The frame gets built to the wrong size and it doesn’t fit the cladding, or the services won’t fit in the riser. These are just some of the problems that might occur when no one is acting as a go-between, or translator, for the design and construction teams.

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. 

But while the importance of design management has grown, exactly what design managers do and their status on a project varies enormously. Quips suggesting the design manager is the site’s photocopier may be apocryphal, but it’s symptomatic of a role that can still have a bit of Cinderella feel to it.

John Eynon, chair of the CIOB’s Design Management Forum, has now instigated a new CIOB-backed initiative to raise standards, create a better understanding of the role and bring a degree of uniformity of thought to the process. The main thrust will be the production of a DM Code of Practice — The Design Manager’s Handbook — to be published in 2012.

“In the medium term we want to explore the formation of a cross-institute Special Interest Group for Design Management and to develop a learning and development framework, which recognises the rich diversity of the people that do this role, ranging from the graduate to the seasoned industry professionals who have worked their way through from the trades,” says Eynon.

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. 

Eynon, himself an architect, concedes there are cynics who question whether this is a role and ask whether it isn’t something architects or engineers should sort out for themselves. Another issue is that it furthers the trend for architects to get one step removed from putting buildings together. But as Eynon points out, whether it’s carried out by the contractor’s team or the design management team, it’s an activity that has to happen

“DM is a relatively recent role recognised in the industry. Consequently this is still developing, and the practices, tools and roles are still emerging. It is highly probable that this will flex over time, and I think the impact of technology in this area will be immense.

“Who knows? Today’s design manager could be the next generation’s BIM manager or technologist, dealing with compiling 5D BIM models that provide all design, manufacturing and construction information, as well as financial and procurement information, whilst providing an on-going vehicle for controlling carbon emissions, energy consumption and facilities management,” says Eynon.

So where we are now?
The Handbook was published in 2013, and continues to sell around the world.
The role has continued to develop and a lot of Design Managers are involved at the forefront of implementing BIM on projects.
Also hat tip to all those who do the role but have a different title , eg Coordinator, Technical Manager, please join in with us! 
Also we’ve formed the Association for Design ManagementThe ADM, you can join for free!!!!!, and we have lot’s of exciting stuff coming up. Over 200 members already. It’s all happening! Join us!

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