Clicking point

Stephen Hamil looks into some of the advantages of the RIBA Plan of Work website

The 2013 edition is the most comprehensive update to the RIBA Plan of Work since its first publication 50 years ago.

One significant improvement is its accompanying website, which allows users to tailor the plan to the specific needs of any practice of project. There cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ project plan that meets the needs of every organisation and all ranges of projects. Online availability addresses this need, enabling users to customise the plan by selecting and defining the procurement route, combining certain work stages and choosing the optimum time to apply for planning – although the core objectives of each stage of the plan are fixed and cannot be altered.

Browsing the plan

In paper format, a publication is static; it can only be viewed in one way. However, if the words are structured digitally and built into a web application they can be presented to the user at the most appropriate times. Examples of this are shown in figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1 shows that each task or term within the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 has a full definition. Rather than lying in the five page glossary at the end of the paper publication, in the digital version it pops up instantly as the user hovers over the task or term in bold.

Figure 2 shows that against each of the work stages the user may view either the tasks for the stage or an overview of this stage that displays technical guidance. Again, the benefit of the digital version is that the correct information is always at the user’s fingertips.

Figure 1: Glossary of terms
Figure 1: Glossary of terms
Figure 2: Stage guidance
Figure 2: Stage guidance

Customising the plan

After browsing the plan, users can create a version of it to meet their precise project or practice requirements. The user simply answers a few questions and the output is a PDF that is customised to their needs. The customisation tool is shown in Figure 3.

Customising the RIBA  Plan of Work 2013
Customising the RIBA Plan of Work 2013

The main customisation options are around the ‘three Ps’ – procurement, programme and (town) planning.  Modern construction has many different procurement options and tasks will vary depending which procurement route is chosen. A simple example is that tendering and other procurement activities occur at a different work stage depending on the procurement route. The programme bar is now based on generic stage overlaps according to the procurement route with Plan, advocating the preparation of a project programme to cover specific project details. Finally, the user can choose whether the planning application will be made at the end of stage 2 or 3.

The final customisation options are two task bars that may be switched on or off. These task bars are for sustainability checkpoints and the decision milestones for government projects.

The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 template, the overview guidance, the glossary of terms and the functionality surrounding the generation of a customised plan is all completely free. It is hoped that all of those involved in construction projects based on the Plan will find this website a valuable resource.

There’s more to come

The release of RIBA Plan of Work 2013 in May is just the start. Expect more knowledge and further functionality around the tasks in the plan in the near future.

Immediate examples of the additional knowledge around a project workflow is the content being delivered in a series of publications based on and around the Plan, including the Guide to Using the RIBA Plan of Work 2013, a new edition of the RIBA Job Book and Assembling a Collaborative Project Team. The first two will be published in May, with the launch, and the latter this autumn. 

In terms of software functionality, the research and development team at RIBA Enterprises is looking at key online work flow tools that will support assembling project teams, assigning design responsibilities and briefing. The vision is that information captured at the start of the project will flow through its lifecycle to help all those involved in the construction process.

Dr Stephen Hamil is director of design and innovation at RIBA Enterprises. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenHamilNBS