Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth
It is often the case that product manufacturers only perceive one specifier, the architect, when considering their specification strategy. However, in most cases there are more influencers than this. The more complex the project, the more people likely to be involved.
In this article we look at 5 of the most obvious influencers on product specification, but depending on the specialist nature of your product, there may be more.
1. Interior Designer
As the name suggests, the Interior Designer will be involved in the internal layout of a building. There is quite an overlap between this and the role of an architect. If it is one of a number of corporate buildings (e.g. hotels, retail) the interior designer will be responsible for the overall look and feel, presenting the organisation’s image and hence be very influential.
We are also seeing the growth in the adoption of the concept of health and wellbeing as part of building design. Responsibility for this and other aspects of ensuring the building is easy to use for its occupants will be coordinated by the interior designer.
Yours may not be an interior design product but it could influence how the environment of the building is seen or used. Be aware of this and make the interior designer aware of your products and the benefits they bring.
2. Quantity Surveyor
A Quantity Surveyor may be appointed as the Client’s representative, ensuring that they are getting the project they wanted at the expected price. But note that people with that qualification appear in a number of different roles in the industry. Traditionally the person who looked for cheaper products, the Quantity Surveyor is increasingly focusing on life-time value as clients start to realise that the cost of constructing a building is a fraction of its operating costs.
The Quantity Surveyor may write specifications and will want to check any product substitution to ensure it does represent value for the client. It can also be the Quantity Surveyor who is involved at the very start of the project, answering the question “how much will this building cost?” Therefore it is important to ensure they have ball park costs for your products and understand how they deliver value.
3. Specialist Consultants
There are Specialist Consultants for an array of subjects; sustainability, acoustics, fire, security to name just a few. Depending on the nature of your product they may or may not be influential. Most will not get involved in product specification, but do write the overall performance specification which indirectly influences product choice.
It is usually the architect who is responsible for interpreting these requirements, which can present conflicting demands, and the consultant may then advise on the best way to achieve a result – that is suggest products. It’s important that they know what benefits your products can deliver.
There are a variety of engineering roles; Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical. These then break down into further specialisms such as Building Services and Public Health. Depending on your product one or more of these may be involved even if it is not primarily part of an engineering discipline – and any product which uses electricity will be. Be aware of this and know what information they will require. Remember to make it easy to specify.
5. Design Manager
The Design Manager works within the Design & Build contractor. It may be a similar title, but the role will be the same across contracting organisations and it is an influential one. This person will be the contact with the potential client and have the task of interpreting their brief into a building which delivers their requirements in a cost effective manner. They will then brief the design team, often external architects, and within that brief they may define which products can, or cannot be used.
When it comes to product choice they often have the final say. Although it is where value-engineering takes place, they are looking to deliver a value-for-money building not the cheapest building, so make sure they understand your products and how they can contribute to these aspirations.
Be aware of these different roles and engage with them. They may not be responsible for selecting your product initially, but they potentially have the power to veto their use.
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Chris is a specialist in specification strategy and founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in market research and training for the construction industry. He is a member of the BIM4M2 steering group and Deputy Chair of the organising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketings Construction Industry Group.
Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth