Design Managers – Your Time is Valuable!

Design Managers – Your Time is Valuable!

 28 Aug 2019

    Design Manager

In recent blogs we have discussed Main Contractors having a desire for their Design Managers to be proactive, however finding the balance to this is key and a good Design Manager will also know the importance of prioritising their time, realising that their time is valuable and knowing when to say no.

Learn when to say No!

We often hear from Design Managers how they face distractions from their core role and as such we have highlighted a few scenarios below where it’s important for even the most proactive Design Manager / Design Coordinator to say no and take a step back.


Locating Information:

A Design Manager should try not to entertain the internal team's requests to locate basic design information/to send them design information packs.

There is a fine line between being helpful and beginning to do other people's job at the expense of a Design Managers own quality.

All design information should be on the CDE (Common Data Environment) for the team to access and it will only take a few times of politely directing them to this before they get the idea that the Design Manager won't be spending their time repackaging/personally sending information to save others a few minutes.

(We have even heard extremes of this scenario where the site team start to treat the Design Manager as more of a Document Controller and even request them to print drawings to save them time).

This is not how a Design Manager is going to add best value to a project and so is a real distraction from more important Design Manager duties.


Design Flaws

Often there will be occasions when the design is flawed or not coordinated between disciplines.

Most times, a design solution must be sought. External consultants may try to pass the responsibility to another party (especially during the transition from RIBA stage 4a to 4b where specialist consultants begin to feed in their design) and often add 'we await instruction from 'insert contractor' how to proceed'.

The action then winds up with the Design Manager having to liaise with multiple companies to develop responsibility and a 'please all' solution; it's very easy to be pushed around and get caught up in this type of micro battle.

In these scenarios it's very important for the Design Manager to initially remove themselves from the detail of the issue and consult the DRM (Design Responsibility Matrix), consultant appointments and any other contractual documents to hold the consultants to fulfil their obligation to deliver a coordinated and complete design.

The alternative is the Design Manager will spend valuable time trying to unnecessarily solve problems by being the grand mediator.

When the contractual documents fail to set out clear responsibility and/or scope this becomes a necessary exercise and a good chance to prove your value as a Design Manager / Design Coordinator, but otherwise is an unplanned and unforeseen drain on a Design Managers time.


Commercial / Programme Elements

While a Design Manager has a heavy hand to play in commercial and programme elements, a Design Manager must try not to let the wider team bully them into taking frontline responsibility for these aspects when they interface with design.

Internal teams should be reviewing design information through the lense of their own specialism as an addition to a Design Managers own checks.

All too often, a Design Manager can receive backlash and subsequent actions to resolve from misses in these areas when it's clear the other teams are not as familiar with the design as they should be.

A Design Manager should defend themselves against becoming a scapegoat for all things design by setting up a thorough process to evidence design review/commenting and contribution from team members so that there is transparency and collaboration rather than finger-pointing.

This will also save a Design Manager a lot of time by spreading the workload and having valuable input from the wider team.


Using Your Own Bias Against You

In addition its easy to fall into the trap of helping out with other job roles if that’s the background / route (Architecture / Civil / Structural / Site / Commercial) you progressed from before becoming a Design Manager.

For example, we have heard of scenario’s whereby a Design Manager that has a Site Management background has even helped out with the hands on snagging of a project.

Whilst it’s a nice gesture to the team, its really not a Design Managers job and the time wasted on this could have consequences on time better spent elsewhere.



To conclude whilst its important to be proactive and helpful, it’s even more important to know where to direct your energy and prioritise your time accordingly, in particular avoiding the pitfalls and distractions highlighted above.

Also feel free to check out our blog for more Design Manager Top Tips on Managing your Time / a Busy Workload.



I’m sure there are even more scenarios where a Design Manager could save time and would be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic with any further tips or examples you can contribute that will help aspiring Design Managers and Design Coordinators to learn, progress and get noticed as top talent!

So please feel free to like our post and share your comments.


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