Our role is to properly engender a genuine spirit of ownership and cooperation and to create a collaborative working environment
The output is great design, which is central to the aspirations of the Architects and Designers that we work for, and ultimately their Clients
"What Plan A do is handle process stress and strain so architects and designers can focus on what they do best."
Editorial Director, Architects’ Journal
As industry leaders in the discipline of Design Management, Plan A Consultants provides a unique management and consultancy service so that Architects and Designers can do what they do best and focus on their core activities of design, coordination and production.
Design Management responsibilities are inherently embedded within the Lead Designer’s appointment and it is therefore an essential role, whether internal or externally sourced that is required over all design stages of a project irrespective of the scale, complexity or location.
Our team of Design Managers only carry out Design Management activities for Architects and Designers. Our team does not work for a Developer one day in a Project Management role and then for an Architect the next. We do not ‘wear two hats’ and we think this is really important. We have seen from experience the problems that can occur when the activities under a traditional Project Manager role are confused with the activities and empathy needed in our Design Management role. They are different and require different approaches.
Design Strategy and Leadership
Project Objectives must be clearly captured, justified and communicated to all those who need to be involved, whether client appointed advisers, client stakeholders or third party interests.
Plan A have significant experience in facilitating this process in order to ensure that the scene is set correctly at the outset to avoid unnecessary disruption later in the design process.
Reporting and Progress Monitoring
A monthly reporting process should be established early to ensure that all design team members understand the objectives of the reports to be prepared. Reports should be succinct but comprehensive and should provide no more information than is necessary for the project lead and client to understand the key issues arising at any given time. These reports can be collated and coordinated from all consultants by Plan A.
On larger, more complex projects, we will receive, review and prepare the executive summary, extracting the salient issues from the report to bring exceptional issues to the client’s attention without overwhelming them with the more mundane mechanics of the design development.
Understanding the objectives of the design competition is essential to ensure the competition brief is answered in a way that supports the objectives without placing inappropriate burden on the designers. For example, Architectural competitions are most suited to finding the right design team that a client is comfortable working with rather than looking for the correct design solution when there has been limited interrogation or understanding of the Project Brief and key stakeholders.
Plan A supports architects and designers during the competition stage, providing design management methodologies, programming advice, fee collation and narrative inputs in response to the management aspects of the competition requirements.
Appointments and Contracts
Plan A have demonstrable experience of helping architects pull comprehensive appointment documentation together.
Larger projects can be onerous in terms of their technical challenges, complex management procedures and high level of multidisciplinary coordination required. Significant effort is required to facilitate and navigate the process in order to allow the Lead Designer or Architect to concentrate on content and design.
Project Structure and Organisation
In collaboration with the Design Team, Plan A will produce the Design Management Plan, which describes the framework, strategies, practices and procedures for the execution and delivery of a project from the designer's perspective - this document compliments the Project Manager's Project Execution Plan. It is intended to provide relevant, up-to-date information to the client, design team and other interested parties regarding how the project is to be managed and delivered. It is a valuable orientation document for new recruits to the design team, ensuring consistency of delivery and quality.
The Design Management Plan will outline Project Objectives based on the Strategic Brief, participants, responsibilities, procedures and control processes, often using sketches, charts and diagrams to communicate key messages.
A Design Programme is often the best way to reflect the design process and key dates. However, design programmes – particularly in a gantt chart format - are often put together in the last minute, are not properly co-ordinated and do not accurately and visually reflect the design process.
Plan A hosts design programme workshops to collaboratively obtain input from all of the Design Team. Our Design Route Maps likewise reflect the design process in a more visual manner than a standard gantt chart. Our design programming service is about putting the design process first.
Brief Definition and Change Management
A common mistake for projects to avoid is the temptation for designers to plunge into detailed solutions to the requirements identified in the Business Case rather than refining these requirements to a greater level of detail to form a baseline summary of the needs as part of the Initial Project Brief.
In general terms, the Initial Project Brief needs to set the question and provide sufficient direction to the design team so that the following design process can be executed without having to revisit fundamental requirements that affect the efficient progression of a Concept Design response. Plan A will help Lead Designers explain the sequence and common content of the Initial Project Brief and the Feasibility Studies that validate it.
The key components of an Initial Project Brief for all members of the design team can be determined by Plan A in collaboration with the Lead Designer and the client.