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Architectural Construction Documents Drafting in Outsourcing Model
Architectural construction documents drafting is an arduous work. However, architects have benefited from IT technology by applying both design softwares and outsourcing prodocution model.
Architects were reluctant to outsource their work, since they thought their projects would be out of control if they outsource. However, during the global financial crisis, they have to cut their cost and some architectural firms even let go their CAD departments. Architects feel obligated to complete their limited projects within more limited budget. In this circumstance, more and more architects and architectural firms try to outsource their work to lower their cost.
Some architects got a successful experience with outsourcing, however, others didn't. What makes the differences?
The first variable that makes the difference is what architects outsource. Generally, architectural design includes three phases: schematic design, design development and construction documents (or construction drawings). In term of architectural drafting workload, construction documents phase requires most architectural cad drafting work, while schematic design and development require much less. However, the early phases require more creative work, more communication work with owner and more site investigation. Those are the reasons why architects should outsource during construction documents phase instead of during schematic design or design development phase.
The second variable that makes the difference is the work procedure between architects and architectural drafting companies.
Comparing with in-house production, outsourcing production model lacks of the availability of face-to-face communication. Also, there are usually time difference between architects and architectural drafting companies. Sometimes, the time difference is 12 hours. That's to say, when architects are working, architectural drafting companies are sleeping and when architectural drafting companies are working, architects are sleeping. Thus, their communication lies in e-mail a lot and instant communication is available only if either architects or architectural drafting companies work overtime.
However, those weaknesses could be converted into strengths if the work procedure is set properly. Architects should clarify what final output should be. A go-by set is very helpful both for architects to get what they need and for architectural drafting companies to follow. Also, architects should set up several check points (submittal schedules) with architectural drafting companies before they start. For examples, if architects require three-time submittals for reviewing the progress drawings, architects should define what each submittals should include, such as, site plan, floor plans, roof plan and building sections are needed for the first-time submittal from architectural drafting companies. Once the work procedure is set well, time differences could turn into advantage of outsourcing - when architectural drafting companies could incorporate architects' comments or markups and send back the revised drawings for reviewing before architects get up the next day. In this way, drawings could proceed 24 hours per day.
The third variable in succeeding in outsourcing construction documents is response - whether the architectural drafting companies are responsive or not. Good architectural drafting companies are always responsive to architects' needs at any time. Being responsive could eliminate the geographic distances between architects and architectural drafting companies. If architects work with good architectural drafting companies, they won't feel any distance between. Even more, they feel more convenient, since they don't have to manage those draftsmen.
Architects outsource their architectural construction documents work not only because they want to lower cost, but also because sometimes, they want to catch up with submittal schedules. If they are aware of the variables above, they can both save cost and improve production obviously; however, if they are not aware of these variables, they will fail in outsourcing drafting work.
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About Blazarch: Blazarch is a leading CAD drafting and BIM services provider in Shanghai, China. Visit at http://www.blazarch.com/