Like anything worth working for, it doesn’t always come easy. To follow through and accomplish the objectives you’ve set out, it is important to think through and design the different avenues for success. That’s where project design comes in.
The design phase is highly indicative of how successful your project, resolution, or plan will turn out. You wouldn’t sign up for a marathon without designing a schedule and training plan to follow or start a complex renovation project without mapping out the timetable, materials, and employees needed.
There are different ways to design the way forward for a project, which is why we’re bringing you the essentials of project design before you set out on your next big project of 2023.
What is the project design phase?
Project design occurs in the beginning stages of any project and consists of planning out the ideas, schedules, processes, materials, deliverables, and KPIs that are required to achieve your project objectives and success criteria.
In this project phase, many different designs that achieve the same project result can be developed. However, only one of the project design options can be executed, and it’s important to note that the design cannot be changed once the development stage has occurred.
Why it’s important
The design stage of a project is crucial because it helps you establish objectives, visualize the different steps, materials, and services required to complete your project on time, and anticipate any delays or complications that may arise. Designs serve as a guide throughout the different phases of any project, so they are a crucial starting point for any company proposal or extensive future undertaking.
Most of the time, projects rely on more than one person, so the design phase of a project design also sets out the different tasks and responsibilities for each team member throughout the project lifecycle. It’s also important because they are a source of assurance and information for shareholders directly and indirectly involved in the project.
However, if there is one advantage worth highlighting to convince you of the importance of project design:
What must be defined at this stage?
All research necessary for the project’s successful completion must be carried out prior to the development phase. Thus, during the design stage all research must be completed and fully realized.
However, there are some other key features of any project that should be defined during this phase. This includes:
- The project’s timeline
- Defining starting dates and deadlines
- Assigning responsibilities and tasks to team members
- Establishing key performance indicators.
There are many different ways to visually present this information during the design process, but often the outputs created during this phase include GANTT charts, flow charts, dioramas, and prototypes.
However, there are a long list of other project planning tools, and with the acceleration of digital technologies, we’ve seen a recent proliferation of specifically designed project planning and management tools specific to certain industries, with construction as no exception.
Stick to the plan, steps to follow
As with any major project, campaign, or goal, having a list of steps to follow is a sure way to make sure you’re sticking to the plan and getting the right work done. Here are six important steps to keep in mind and include in the design process of your next project:
- Define your objectives – The first step to any project should be to define what the purpose of the project is. Whether you’re creating a new application to streamline an inefficient process or you need to win a bid for a new construction contract, the objectives will change according to the type of project you’re working on. Therefore, it’s important to begin by establishing the project’s goals and desired outcomes.
- Establish all project deliverables – Now that you know what your end goal is and what is considered successful to you, it’s time to be specific. What do you need to do to achieve your goals successfully? The second step in the design process is to enumerate what deliverables are required throughout each subsequent stage of the project. This allows you to simplify complex or extensive objectives into manageable tasks and assign them to different members of the team. During this step, you should also create a timeline to ensure that you and your team have planned out feasible workloads and consider deadlines.
- Research – Now it’s time to do research and make sure that any unknown variables are accounted for. During this step you should make sure you’re updated and informed about all matters related to your project. This includes understanding the risks and making a contingency plan. Research is a necessary stage to make sure you come up with the most comprehensive project design.
- Create a visual plan – Visual construction planning can increase the speed, quality, and accuracy of your project, while minimizing the possibility of misalignment with the project intent. For most stakeholders, it is clearer to comprehend information from a 3D visualization than a 2D drawing or text data, so information that is communicated visually can be shared more easily with other team members involved in the project. Moreover, in the design stage it can help bring the project to life for your clients to imagine what the completed structure will look and feel like. The type of visual planning solution used depends on your preferences, your team, and of course, the nature of the project in question.
- Brainstorm – One you have visualized your design, it is essential to trial different options, modifications, and adjustments that can be applied to the project – such as different materials, fixtures, and colors. Brainstorming and iteration is a great way to receive input from different team members who may possess different expertise and ensure the most excellent end result.
- Finalize – After brainstorming and considering all your design ideas, it’s time to finalize and decide on a plan to follow. Once you put the project into development, the design should not be altered.
- Share – Last but not least, the final step to follow in the project design phase is sharing the finalized plan with all relevant stakeholders to inform all involved members. Communication is king and this is one of the most important steps in any project design, so make sure not to forget it and simply fast forward to the execution of your design!
3 tips you should never forget
Trial and error are a large part of the beginning stages of any project, but here are three tips to keep in mind during the design phase of your next project.
- Be goal oriented – Throughout the entire project lifestyle, it’s important not to forget the reason why you started in the first point. What is the end goal and what do you need to do to achieve it? For example, you should map out the required deliverables and think about a manageable timeline that will ensure that you achieve the desired results you set out in the first place.
- Change is a good thing – Change is a necessary facet of project design; it means you’re taking in new information and improving your plan so that your results are as successful as possible. Don’t be concerned if the final design you choose to execute is completely different that where you started from! Adjusting your course of action is common during this phase and it means you end up with a comprehensive and well thought out design.
- Don’t underestimate communication – We’re not here to tell you that communication is key. You already know that! But don’t forget how important it is to bounce ideas off different relevant stakeholders and include them in the project design. Don’t shy away from consulting with experts and reliable team members as you start to shape your design.
CEMEX Ventures and project design
CEMEX Ventures has already invested in and partnered with some of the brightest startups who bring smart project design to the world of construction! Aecore, ProPlanner, Modulous, and SAALG Geomechanics are four such startups in our investment portfolio that are revolutionizing project design in the world of Contech. Although the latter two are not chiefly dedicated to project design, in their operation they work on it. Here’s a closer look:
- Aecore is a vertically integrated general contractor that combines architectural design, material procurement, and construction services to provide clients with a one-stop solution and a seamless transition from design to construction. It provides real-time pricing during the design process to reduce cost uncertainty and wasteful redesign efforts. It also standardizes material selection and works directly with suppliers to procure materials, eliminating submittals and lead-time delays.
- ProPlanner’s web-based and collaborative platform is used for building robust construction schedules and allows trade partners to create their weekly and daily activities, manage resources, and improve coordination between stakeholders through every stage of a construction project.
- For projects related to additive construction, Modulous is a modular construction solution that offers a standardized kit of parts that allows the design and delivery of healthy, sustainable, and affordable homes through a distributed network of local assembly partners. The software platform includes the use of artificial intelligence, generative design and 5D BIM modelling, providing a fully integrated supply chain solution.
- SAALG Geomechanics is an engineering firm and a software provider specialized in real time data analysis, advanced numerical solutions and soil & rock parameters characterization by back analysis. SAALG provides the first and only software that uses machine learning algorithms to empower the entire construction value chain to validate, control and optimize construction projects in real-time.
Are you a startup with a solution that’s improving the way we design projects in the industry? Contact us – we want to hear from you!