Combining Design & Procurement with Ease and Value
By Roger G. Hill Chief Executive Officer & Chairman, The Gettys Group Inc. | May 31, 2009
It's no secret that the most successful projects consist of teams that communicate well and work seamlessly together. Having a clear vision for a project is critical for success. It is vitally important that the design and procurement professionals work in a collaborative manner to ensure design continuity. When the design and procurement aspects of a given project are combined under one umbrella, you create a synergy in achieving the right design at the right cost.
There are many advantages to combining design and procurement for a project. A design and procurement team, working in unity, will be will be able to maintain design integrity throughout a project. Buying the project and keeping the design intent can be a great challenge. The design professionals will more clearly understand the budget parameters since the procurement professionals will be working along side them through the design process. By providing real world pricing during the design exercise, there is less redesigning to work within a budget and the team is more efficient. Work does not have to be completed and redone to meet pre-established budgets.
When design and procurement services are separated, there is often tension between the parties. Typically, once the design is complete, the procurement team starts their pricing exercise. It is not until this point that the team finds out if it is truly working within the budget parameters or if they will need to re-design or value engineer portions of the project. Often the value engineered product, or replacement product selected to save money, looses the original design intent. This can lead to a disjointed design and unhappy client.
It is also important to understand that having the design and procurement team as one does not mean that transparency to the client is compromised. It is important to ensure collaboration but not to forget the "checks and balances" of the project. Open book procurement is simply providing access to any and all design and procurement documentation to the client at any time and is vital to the relationship between the client and the team
Successful projects let the designer focus on the creative element of the project and the procurement agent on establishing and maintaining budgets. The procurement agent should, early on in the project, qualify potential manufacturers not only based on the designer's direction, but also with project location, manufacturing capabilities, quality, reliability and financial stability in mind. The design team should enlist the procurement team in specification writing. This is often a defined design task, but a procurement agent with experience and industry knowledge can be a valuable asset in writing thorough specifications.
A combined design and procurement team can be especially efficient when working on international projects whereby the extended team might be located in different parts of the world. Determining how to document units of measurement, for example metric vs. imperial, can generate differing opinions and should not be left for discussion late into the project. It is important to hold regular team and client meetings to support open communication to make sure everyone is on track or to quickly be able to change course, should it be necessary. The design team establishes tagged schematic floor plans, rooms and initial FF&E quantity matrixes. The procurement agent, while working on a preliminary budget, can help the process by acting as the quality control agent for these documents. There is no waiting for one task to be completed and sent for comment or input. All work can be done in real time greatly expediting the project.