What is a design workflow?
Today I want to talk about my little secret for success, although it's really not much of a secret.
Before we get started; a quick disclaimer is that this method is not the only right answer.
However, I want to share this concept because I have found it to be extremely important in creating consistent, quality, and efficient work, as well as providing a major boost for my career personally.
Each of those components: consistency, quality, and efficiency are important to what we do.
Considering that we're in the life safety industry we need to do quality work to save lives, but we also are in a business where we need to be profitable in order to exist.
Those two things are both achievable together.
So, what is a design workflow?
A design workflow is a documented, customized checklist for how you do your work from the very beginning to the very end of a project.
A workflow must include a few specific things.
The first is identifying the tasks to be completed to do a quality job.
This is important so that items are not missed on a job.
I hate to admit this but I once left out a fire department connection on a shop drawing design.
It was a typical wet pipe sprinkler system, nothing special.
I only caught my error only very late right before the project went out for permit.
How could I forget a fire department connection?
Well if you’re in a fast paced design environment working with aggressive deadlines, something like this really isn’t that hard to miss.
Including this step in a workflow would absolutely have prevented that mistake from happening.
There are also less important items that are easy to overlook.
Have you ever gotten a plan review comment where your north arrow was wrong or you did not include a graphic scale?
I have. Both of these are required on plans under NFPA 13.
I may not be the smartest person in the world but I do have the ability to put a correct north arrow on a plan.
How long does that even take? Maybe 10 seconds? 30 seconds?
Well if it's on my checklist I'll look for it and get it right every time.
If it's not? Maybe it's something that gets overlooked once maybe every 10 jobs.
But why make work more difficult than it has to be?
Having each of these tasks in a checklist is a very easy way to make sure it gets done on a job.
The second important piece for a good workflow is correctly ordering each task.
Have you ever been drafting and realize you needed to change an area of your design? Then you had to back and redo hydraulic calculations?
What if this meant you had to re-cut couplings in the pipe?
Or redo dimensions or redo pipe tags?
I hate backtracking in design.
I really don’t ever want to have to do the same task twice when I could have just done it once correctly.
Ideally, every task that you do on a job would only have to be done once.
And that’s not an impossible goal.
There are outside forces like project managers, general contractors, plan review that will require changes to the drawings.
We can't always control that as a designer.
But what we can control is the order in which we do our own work.
And that order actually is really important.
If we're checking for the right things at the right time, then when we're ready to take the next step forward, we won't have to go back and redo old work.
The goal is not to hit perfection on your very first job.
Rather, the goal is that every job you do is a little bit better in quality than the last one, and every job that you do is a little bit more efficient than the last one.
If you improve by even just a little bit on every single job, then in time you'll be excellent at what you do and be increasingly more valuable to your organization.
So what is the design workflow?
It is a written customized sequence of tasks specific to how you operate from the very beginning to the very end of your work.
How do you build a workflow custom to you?
We’ll cover that in future videos.
I'm Joe Meyer, this is MeyerFire University.
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