Alright, Joe. You've droned on about workflows. Workflows. Workflows. Workflows.
It's time to show me the money. What is your workflow look like?
Here's my workflow that I use specifically for fire sprinkler system design. I use this for bid level drawings as a consultant, for shop drawing design for contractors, and for stock listing that happens after the shop drawing permit set.
This is just one example of how a workflow could look. It's not universal, because no workflow should be. these should always be customized to the person using it.
I would more than welcome you to take this and adapt it to your needs.
In the last video I talked about how you can construct your own workflow for whatever task you're looking to do. Here I'm going to break out in more detail what these actually mean when I'm looking at my own design workflow, but the most important takeaways here are there checklists of what tasks you have to get done you need to remind yourself to do, and where in the project that task should realistically be done.
As I go through this and share what my workflow looks like personally, hopefully I can share some of the perspective that made it what it is today and some of the logic I had to go through as I was developing this.
Also please don't take this to be corporate speak. The layering on more things you need to think and worry about aside from all of the deadlines and projects and things you already have going on. I know that you're busy, and if you're not busy now, then you will be at times in your role. I know there are always deadlines looming. I get it, I really do. I'm there and I've been there. this process of figuring out what your own process is for doing the kinds of projects that you do is beneficial to you. When I created this I did it for me my own benefit. I would have never guessed I would even share this with anybody else in the world. I created it because it queued up reminders for me on things I shouldn't forget, but it's also helped me speed up my own process and efficiency in how I work dramatically. And I have data that actually backs that up.
I'm not a guy that cares for corporate standards and corporate processes, that's just not me. I just think this is one method that's made a major difference for me and how I organize my own process and it's been beneficial to me once I created it and to this day. I print out this checklist and use it as a step by step on every single project I do now even though it's been over 100 projects that go that I first created it.
Today, using this workflow, I can pick up a project that's been frozen for three weeks and know exactly where I left off, and exactly how much I have left to do to get it done.
MY PERSONAL WORKFLOW
So, this is the first page in my project workflow.
Again, it looks way fancier now than when I started. When I started it was just a basic list that I printed off from Microsoft Word and added checkboxes to each line.
To create a list, just hop into Microsoft Word, start typing out your list, select the bullet point drop down and instead of using dots use checkboxes. boom, done.
Or better yet use the excel file linked below this video, use it as a starting point, and then add and change and reorganize it so that it meets your needs and helps you work.
Using this you can add rows or delete rows or do whatever you need to do to adjust this to your liking.
LONG-LEAD ITEMS FIRST
So, the first category in my workflow is gathering information.
I spoke about this a little bit in the last video but the very first item when I start a job is figuring out water supply information, or that flow test period if I need a flow test for a project, which is most projects that I work on, then I am asking for it from the very beginning.
I can make a phone call to the water department, or the fire department and see what information they have on hand or if they are the ones that conduct the test I can request it then. Otherwise, if I'm working for a contractor client then I'll confirm with them whether or not they already have flow test information. Either way I'm coordinating that at this point.
When I'm doing a renovation sometimes I don't need a fire hydrant flow test if I know that our modifications are less needy then how the system was already designed. Pretty much for any other case, I'm needing water supply information in order to do my hydraulic calculations.
It took me a while to realize that this had to be the very first thing I did, because it was the most time sensitive. Where I'm at our winters get cold enough that will stay below freezing sometimes for days sometimes for weeks during the winter. We don't run fire hydrant flow tests when the temperature is below freezing, So sometimes scheduling a flow test is weather dependent and can take weeks even if we have fitters ready to do the task.
Because it's so time sensitive and can sometimes take up to a month to get back, this is the first thing I coordinate. for project scheduling this might be a critical path item or something like that, I just considered the most time sensitive and the thing I need to knockout first.
The second item here is the code call to the AHJ. When I mean code call I mean coordinating specific details with the local jurisdiction. We've got whole training topics dedicated to code calls, but in short for most projects I need to know what type of fire department connection the department uses, whether they allow fire department connections to be on the building or whether they have to be removed camera and I coordinate safety factors that are required by the jurisdiction. there's a number of other details as well I do at this time.
The code call can be as time sensitive item, so I have that right up at the top also. If I leave a message and need a callback, doing this as the second item in my list gives me some time to allow a fire Marshall to call me back and still keep the project moving.
FOLDER SET UP
Third on my list is to set up the job folder. Set up the job folder? Third on the list? Yeah, now that I've knocked out the two most time sensitive things, or at least have those things underway, I'm now ready to kick off the job.
At this point that I'm also setting up the projects in my accounting system so I don't forget to bill it later on, and closing out any kind of sales information or sales tracking for landing the project.
I once neglected to bill for a job, completely. It wasn’t until months after the whole job was sent, completed, and closed out that I got a call from a client asking if I had ever sent the invoice. I don’t think all contractors would go out of their way to do that, it was especially courteous, and I was especially neglectful. I added the step of updating my accounting system for every project after that.
CHECK FOR INSURANCE
Also, I include a note to check for insurance requirements. It’s still early in the job, and I want to know ahead of time if something like XL GAPS or FM Global apply to my project before I really get underway. This isn’t a question I can usually answer myself, but need input from either construction documents or the building owner.
KICKOFF MEETING, TURNOVER
From here, it's a kickoff meeting or project turnover, depending on the terminology that your organization uses. If there's a project estimator or a project manager that has information I don't yet know about, this is the point I want to get it from them. That doesn't mean I take a project estimators word is gospel and I follow exactly what they intended, but at least I have an idea and can go through and verify each of those assumptions that they made when I'm laying out the actual system.
Next is a site visit, where necessary. Sometimes it's a new construction project and there's nothing to look at put a big hole in the ground. That's a easy check off the list. For renovation projects, this is the point where I want to get into site visit and take some measurements.
So, as far as collecting information goes, that’s my initial process for putting together what I need to get started on a project. In the next video we’ll breakout what project setup and initial layout entails.
I'm Joe Meyer, this is MeyerFire University.
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