The Importance of Workflow

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a big buzz word in the Building Information Modeling (BIM) world these days.  Part of the IPD process is to have a clearly defined workflow so that all parties involved understand the role they play.  I like to think of workflow as an instruction manual.

The best time to define the workflow is as early on in the design process as possible. I can say from experience that most companies do not lack the ability to develop a workflow in terms of “how-to” documents and the like. However, most companies fall short when it comes to implementing their brilliant ideas, because the accountability factor has been overlooked.

All the steps in a defined workflow need an individual or department to be held accountable for its execution. Although this article will focus on collaboration for integrated project delivery, the same methods can be applied to anything that requires a workflow.

Workflow Example

What types of workflows can be defined for how a structural engineering firm would manage its Autodesk® Revit® model? It is essential to understanding the end deliverable and scope of work in order to make the right decisions when laying out your workflow. For example, if you know it will be a large project and will require phasing for material delivery to the job site, you will make different choices than you would for a small project. Below is a sample workflow chart that will help address the issues of a project that needs to include phasing.

Figure 1: Basic workflow for adding phases to a Revit Structure model.

Once the above workflow is agreed on, you must assign accountability for each step in the workflow to ensure the phases get applied to the project early on. By having a workflow strategy you can save hours of applying phasing early rather than waiting until a later date.

The enhanced workflow diagram below does a better job of conveying the workflow process. The project team can have an improved comfort level knowing that someone is responsible during each step of the defined workflow.

Figure 2: Assigning accountability.

Sometimes it is necessary to refer to supporting documentation in order to take this workflow to the next level. In this case, the office may have a standard document for naming phases in your Revit project. 

Figure 3: Completed workflow diagram.

Model Sharing Tip

The main purpose of IPD is that all stakeholders are involved as early on in the design process as possible. At these early meetings, it is essential that each discipline communicate its needs for linking other consultants’ models.

Workflow is a concept that requires documentation and will help eliminate communication issues that typically happen during the life cycle of a project. Most projects involve more than one model or drawing file. These files are referenced by other consultants, which creates the need for coordination views and reference views. Structural and MEP engineering firms need a clean architectural background to reference in their construction documents to ensure proper coordination.

From a structural point of view, it is a big time saver if I can adjust the visibility graphics to look at a predefined view in the architect’s model that is clean and has the level of detail I desire. As long as it is communicated up front, the architect has no problem setting up that view for our use. Below are the steps and dialog boxes involved.

Step One: Go into your visibility graphics and select “By Host View” in the Revit Links tab to change the setting to custom.

Figure 4: Visibility Graphics, display settings.

Step Two: Once you select “By Host View” you can change the linked file to “Custom,” which allows you to specify the view in the Architectural model you would like to reference.

Figure 5: Linking custom display settings.

Though this may seem trivial, it is a big time saver when coordinating construction models between disciplines.


Hopefully, with these examples, you can begin to implement workflow on your projects. I think it is true that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” A basic workflow diagram communicates to the IPD team three major points.

  1. How the project should progress through different stages
  2. Who is held accountable for each step
  3. Where supporting documents are located.

Philip Russo began with AutoCAD version 2.5 in 1986. Through the years, he has held positions in the CAD industry as CAD Draftsman, CAD Manager, Sr. Applications Engineer, and Certified Autodesk Instructor. Lately Phil’s focus has been on the implementation of standard practices for the Revit product line. He currently holds the position of Sr. Technical Application analyst at O’Brien & Gere Limited. O’Brien & Gere is an engineering firm located in Syracuse, New York. Phil can be reached at

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