Lessons from architecture on improving creative process workflow

The underlying goal in the architecture design process is to keep workflow manageable while satisfying the customer. But without a clear design process, poor communication happens. Structuring design processes – the stages from the first meeting with the client to the final construction plan of the building – is therefore essential in the industry.

The key to a good creative process is consistency and cyclicality in the method. The company's process of design development should be consistent across all team members and tasks. Implementing a content review process that works is a central element of the creative process. 

The process of any creative workflow begins with the initial idea, and moves through to completion. Traditionally, the four phases of the workflow is marked as ideation, creation, review and approval, product launch or, as in architecture, the final delivery of the construction plan. 

Pre-design (definition)

In architecture, the pre-design phase involves meeting the client to discuss their requirements and vision for the building. This step helps to define the scope of the work, functionality and necessary features. A creative brief is born out of the discussions with the client. The overall budget and timeline, and other requirements are discussed. 

Schematic design

With all information collected, the architect will now begin to chalk out rough sketches of the building that meet all the client’s requirements. This will be the first proposal, not set in stone, but flexible to allow alternative ideas before the design is finalized. Communication and a suitable review and approval process at this stage will improve communication with the client. 

BIM software like Autodesk Revit help architects at this stage share their ideas on one collaborative platform with clients and other stakeholders, allowing for timely review and changes. 

Design development

After the initial client feedback has been worked into the building plans, the models and specs become more detailed. As ideas evolve, a more detailed 3D drawing is made of the architect’s ideas. 

BIM software allow architects to visualize and share 3D models of 2D buildings and make changes and calculations on the fly. They also generate data through the lifecycle of the project to help architects spot mistakes and make quick and across-the-board changes. Across various creative industries, using technology during the design development stage to promptly share data and analysis can speed up the process and save time and money on costly mistakes arising from human error. 

Construction drawings

In this stage, the architect makes technical drawings that building contractors will use. These drawings will be used to apply for building permits. Any stakeholders besides the client will be able to understand key information and set parameters for the project from these drawings. 

Collaboration and feedback continues to be important throughout this stage. The design will be altered as per feedback and consultation with entities like engineers, plumbers, interior designers etc. Automation largely helps to streamline this stage and make changes easier to incorporate. 

For instance, with Wood framing software for Autodesk, architects can design and troubleshoot prefabricated framing solutions in a shorter period of time than by traditional methods. They can spot mistakes in design and correct them, relying on the software to adjust the rest of the plan accordingly. This eliminates expensive re-calculations and mistakes at the construction stage. 

Overseeing the building process

The final stage is the administration of the blueprint into the construction of the building. The architect must monitor the construction throughout the process, visit sites, ensure the work is in line with the construction documents. 

The bottomline

Using a clear process such as the one above in creative companies can help make a design the best it can be. This organized way of working helps with process improvement. With collaboration and openness to feedback from the early stages, businesses are automatically ensuring improvement in work processes. In the end, regular and clear communication leads to improved customer satisfaction, and that’s what all creative companies aim for.  

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