A comment from Sheldon Wolfe RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CSC on The Role of the Spec Writer got me thinking about how, in today’s world of design and construction, the spec writer really is an information manager. Although spec writers have always been information managers to some extent, we did not call them information managers. Now – in the Information Age – we are more likely to think of information as a commodity to be gathered, filtered, organized, arranged, manipulated, layered, and packaged to suit our purposes. Information – embedded in drawings or in models or published separately – is information, and it must be managed effectively in order for the design and construction to be coordinated and complete. Designers and drafters also rely on information (in their heads or close at hand) in preparing drawings and models.
The rub between spec writers and designers is often related to that underlying information and how it is managed. A designer may want something that is inconsistent with a spec writer’s information about given products or systems. Designers are more likely to focus on visual features and not see the rules a spec writer feels obligated to follow, based on product or system information or performance criteria considered by the spec writer. Faced with such a conflict, the spec writer may need to confirm the validity of the information and then convey it to the designer in a manner that focuses on the designer’s interests (quite possibly the initial and lasting appearance of the completed construction). The designer may need to consider design intent in abstract terms that are not tightly linked to particular products and may need to adjust the intent in order to achieve a good fit with available products. The spec writer may also consider alternatives, researching other product information that may support the designer’s intent. The goal would be to achieve a good fit between design intent and specified products in the completed construction.
Considering the role of the spec writer as an information manager may help unlock some opportunities for more effective collaboration with other members (and other information managers) of a project team.