4 Things to Know About Revit and Project Management
Project management and using Revit® effectively come down to operational efficiency—whether that’s in the form of time, reduced stress, or improved communication. In this article we’ll talk about four things you can do to help your projects run smoothly and improve with each and every project completed. Let’s dive right in.
#1 Upgrade Your Families with Each New Release
Why do we want to upgrade our families with each new version of Revit? As engineers, we all relate to math. Numbers don’t lie and provide an easier way to show why it’s worth the time investment upfront (Figure 1).
Let’s say you have 30 families to update, and each takes two minutes to open the family in the newer version and save it to the folder, totaling one hour. Let’s also say the person doing this is a $20/hour team member. Therefore, it costs $20 to upgrade the families.
Now let’s say that you updated 10 families per project, each taking one minute. Every year you do 50 projects with an average of 10 families that you upgrade for each project. In this scenario, you are upgrading 500 families. Let’s say that across the company 3/4 ($375) of the upgrades are done by a $20/hour team member and 1/4 (125) by a $50/hour team member.
- 6.25 hours @ $20/hour = $125
- 2.08 hours @ $50/hour = $104
- Totaling $229 versus $20 (if the upgrades were done upfront)
While not a large savings, compounded year over year or from more families or projects, you can see how these seemingly little inefficiencies add up. Additionally, and possibly more important, this method took 500 minutes: 8 hours and 10 minutes! Imagine what you could have done with that extra seven hours of productive time.
#2 Keep Your Revit Templates Up To Date
Similar to the benefits of keeping families up to date, your templates should also be kept up to date. Templates should have the sheets, details, schedules, legends, and notes that are used most often in a project saved, set up and ready to use, with legends sheets that are in the most commonly used sizes: 30x42 and 24x36.
Sheets need to be populated with typically used schedules and details. These are your typical AHU schedules, lighting schedules, fan schedules, and equipment schedules. Another sheet should be set up with your 10 to 15 most commonly used details. The reason to have these populated with the most common and frequently used items on every project is that it is much easier to delete something than to add it. It’s also cheaper to have something you don’t need rather than forgetting to add it and having that end up costing additional dollars to the firm. In this case we are talking real dollars, not just labor hours.
Another timesaver is having typical notes written and the legends created. Again, we’re thinking of the things that are easier to delete than create. In Revit, using legends allows you to place these notes on multiple sheets, rather than just create them using detail views. Detail views can only be placed on one sheet at a time.
Have a few placeholder sheets created, in the right hierarchical order with legends already placed, as shown in Figure 2.
#3 Right Order
In Revit, doing things in the right order is crucial to time savings. Management isn’t just about how things are set up. It’s also about how you execute each project, and creating efficiency in how you are going about doing each step of the process. Here are a few examples to think about on your next project.
Example 1: Are you using the Tag All Function for each element type in your project? Are you laying out all the lights in your project, then using the tag all function and adjusting all of the tags at once by having them all selected for that entire floor? Or are you placing a room of lights, then tagging each one by hand and repeating room by room? Time efficiency is very important, especially when it comes to budget management for our projects. This also goes for things like circuiting—are you renaming that circuit while you circuit each and every room or are you waiting until all circuiting is done, then circuit by circuit going back through the panel schedules to rename each circuit? This comes down to understanding the workflows that Revit has innately provided and adapting to them, rather than “brute-forcing” your way through a project.
Another piece of management and time usage is in coordination. For each of your projects are you just forging ahead without input from the other disciplines or are you actively talking and meeting with them? And a bigger thought is for some of your smaller projects—under 100,000 square feet—are you combining MEP models to have more real-time coordination or are there too many trust issues?
Example 2: Do you know what type of heating and cooling system is going into the building to size the electrical service or how much space above the ceiling is needed for ducts or piping? These simple items will lead to making decisions early in the process so the building doesn’t need to be reworked multiple times, thus saving everyone time, effort, and energy that comes with going through the value engineering exercise.
Scrum project management is really the best methodology to use. For example, say that the team meets for 10 minutes every day as opposed to a one-hour meeting each week—automatically saving 10 minutes each week for the duration of the project. Information is now passed to ALL the team on a daily basis. Now you ask, what is in this 10-minute meeting? I’ll tell you: It’s the answer to three questions.
- What did you do yesterday on the project?
- What are you doing today on the project?
- What do you need?
Time cost savings: say that each team has six people. Scrum project meetings will save 10 minutes per person each week, equaling one hour per week. Fifty-two weeks in a year means saving 52 hours per year. Having 10 teams across the office is a savings of 520 hours per year. At an average employee cost of $100 per hour including overhead, this equals $52,000 per year.
#4 Constant Improvement
Management isn’t just looking at what you are doing today, it’s also figuring out what you can do better tomorrow. Are you improving your process? Are you helping to find ways of improving in Revit, in meetings, in design? This could be saving time on projects, saving energy in buildings, streamlining the flow of decision making, and ensuring that decisions are made in a timely manner. Easy opportunities to tackle include things that you keep doing repeatedly that could be templated, such as your proposal process. Do you have effective templates set up for your proposals like you do for Revit? Improvement doesn’t end, and finding new and creative ways to improve are out there—you just need to be open to them.
Management goes well beyond who is doing what and when. When it comes to Revit, it is on each of us to help improve the process because we each have something to contribute.
Dillon Mitchell is a licensed electrical engineer and has been using Revit for years. He is passionate about optimization and workflow improvement. Dillon has managed electrical departments designing close to two million square feet of educational and commercial buildings. Having designed electrical systems for 300,000 square foot buildings, he understands that process matters. Every bit of improvement, short-cut and time saver makes a big difference when working on projects at scale. Dillon founded Kowabunga Studios to create tools for engineers to improve their efficiency on Revit projects large and small. When not optimizing Revit or electrical engineering, Dillon enjoys running long-distance races (marathons and ultra-marathons) as well Ironman Triathlons. Find him out on a trail or road testing the limits of personal endurance.