A rendered illustration of Archigility Housing Development.

Five Quick Ways to Streamline the Planning Process

We all know how drawn out planning can be. In most projects, it’s the longest phase, often subject to delay for a host of reasons – so, any way to streamline it can be key to getting things moving and realising return on investment. And that starts with rationalising it.

What do we mean by this? First, being rational; taking an objective, pre-emptive view of planning from start to finish. Second, it means working smarter and more efficiently, mitigating sources of delay, conflict or miscommunication. Both of these definitions demand a more agile approach across planning, architecture and the built environment – something we’ve codified at Wienerberger Architectural Services in the form of Archigility. And to give you a taste of what this entails, here’s our five quick ways to start rationalising planning.

1.      Prepare your plans – and your people

It may seem obvious, but it’s all too often overlooked: being prepared and starting to plan at the earliest opportunity opens up space and contingencies for improvement, accuracy and security in the supply chain. And where many fall behind on this point isn’t simply getting these pre-planning steps in place, but making sure your people can clearly follow them.

It’s a case of owning planning – and giving your people ownership of the relevant stages. So, avoid making the already complex planning process even more complicated; keep information simple, communication flowing, and contacts clear.

One easy way to do this is by taking full advantage of BIM. Powerful and flexible modelling, rich data, and – through a Common Data Environment – convenient access to all necessary information, from planning to handover, makes BIM an invaluable tool in streamlining planning. Which brings us to our next point…

2.      Minimise your interfaces

Maintaining control and pace in planning – and the wider build process – means minimising the things that could go wrong, and the points at which this could happen. Miscommunication, duplication of effort, waste and unnecessary delays: these are all possible between interfaces – and the more interfaces there are, the more potential for them to happen.

The most efficient way to work is through a single interface: one partner that can centralise project management across design, planning and build, and maintain control over materials, quantities, local requirements and regulations.

Like BIM, a single-interface method makes communication easier, streamlines problem solving and project planning, and makes all data accessible in one place. Evidently, a smarter way to work – provided you use the right partner for that one interface…

Architectural and Urban Design Team Photos

3.      Choose partners wisely

Capability is perhaps the most commonly used metric in appointing a partner in architectural design, planning and construction. But in adopting a single-interface method, one quality is more crucial: agility.

The ability to keep multiple plates spinning, to project-manage consultants and contractors, and keep information and communication flowing freely, demands that a partner takes an agile approach to the process.

This is why our Archigility methodology is one of the driving forces behind Wienerberger Architectural Services – but it relies on having a tight team combining the broad capabilities and unified focus to keep all these plates spinning. And if you’d like to know how we do this, get in touch.

4.      Make materials matter

The UK Government’s January announcement of a new national construction products regulator has refocused the industry on the use of safe materials for homes. The responsibility spreads to everyone in the construction chain – and it’s here that creating seamless links between architects, planners and manufacturers can further rationalise the process.

Sourcing and securing building materials is one of the most common causes of delays – and, when finding alternatives becomes a necessity, these delays can easily snowball.

So, linked to our previous points about picking the right partner to minimise interfaces, working alongside a team with architectural capabilities and a seamless link to a manufacturing base can close the gap on potential delays – making materials matter not just through choice, but in speed and security of supply, and post-construction guarantees.

Mood image of bricks collection

5.      More haste, less speed

Originally, we thought to call this point ‘keep it moving’ – because, without continuous effort, the planning process can easily grind to a halt. But it’s not just about building momentum. It’s not about pace. And it’s definitely not about cutting corners. Instead, it’s about getting things right first time.

Clear communication and shared problem solving is part of it, but rationalising planning means – almost counterintuitively – adding in a phase at the outset, where an effective architectural services partner can guide all parties through the process. In other words, planning itself needs a planning phase: a step where expectations and timelines can be mapped out, efficiencies identified and contingencies established, ready for the urgent changes and issues that inevitably characterise any construction project.

Our point is this: it’s better to get things right at the outset than leave any potential for future delay. Which takes us back to where we began. Planning is about rationalising construction – but, in itself, planning needs to be rationalised to realise smarter, more efficient ways to deliver on projects and realise ROI. And there’s no better time to start than now.

What are your thoughts or experiences on streamlining the planning process? Frustrations? Stories? Ideas on how you’d make it better? Let us know by completing our contact form.