Requirements Programming

EastmanBy Robert Eastman


We all know the cliché that “You Get What You Pay For”. My questions to you are: do you know exactly what you getting? And are you getting what exactly what you need?

Requirements Programming is the method by which these questions get answered. It is a task that happens on every project and it typically takes place during the initial or schematic design (SD) phase of a project. It is a collaborative effort between all project stakeholders to identify and/or confirm project needs and goals, establish line-item budgets, set design expectations, foresee and address potential coordination hurdles, and to form an understanding of the subsequent building/system operations and maintenance conditions. Essentially, it sets the stage for the design team to be complete, accurate and efficient, and for all project stakeholders to be aligned in their efforts and understanding from the get-go.

On every project there is always a long list of potential systems to consider, and technology/low voltage systems are no exception. The decision to include certain systems in the programming will vary, based on the type of project (healthcare, office, mixed use, retail, education, residential, military, etc.), by the level of sophistication (features, functions & options) that will be relevant and beneficial to the end-users, and by the level of integration with other systems that will be required. Early coordination between the project team is a key function of requirements programming, as it provides an opportunity to integrate the most innovative strategies at the most economical time.

Technology and low voltage systems are typically grouped under the Division 27 and Divisions 28 Scopes of Work, but they often interface with Divisions 08, 25, 26 and 33 Scopes of Work, systems that are designed by one or more of the other project parties, either design team, Owner team, and/or system vendors. Some of the systems have requirements that are hard and defined, even manufacturer specific, while other systems needs are performance-based. The design and selection for all of the systems can and will be governed by financial considerations, both capital costs and operational costs.

We are advocates for early thinking, and as engineers/consultants, it is often our role (and in fact our preference) to establish, budget, coordinate, track and design the systems that make the program list. To do so, we participate in (and preferably lead) a series of Requirements Programming Sessions specific to the technology/low voltage systems scope. It is important to formulate this plan early and be comprehensive and methodical in creating it; misunderstandings or unforeseen needs, and subsequently the necessary scope of work revisions, can be disruptive and costly; having a transparent plan ensures project success from both the Owner’s and the design team’s points of view.

As we conduct our requirements programming efforts, we use a master template that maps directly into a Basis of Design (BOD) Narrative report or an Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) report that we issue at the conclusion of the schematic design phase and subsequent phases. The report becomes the documented record identifying the design decisions and the parties responsible for each element thereof.

Parallel to the efforts to establish the Basis of Design narrative are the efforts to establish budgets or opinions-of-probable-costs. The best way to identify and track the associated costs of the required systems is to make sure that all costs are included in the budget and are assigned to the appropriate pool, including construction, furniture-fixtures & equipment (FFE) and department specific capital cost (IT, security, end user, etc.).

The report is not a stagnant document. As we progress through the design we may find need to revise and re-issue it to meet changing Owner requirements, changing business conditions or changing budget logistics. In these situations, we incorporate the necessary modifications as needed after further collaboration and buyoff is obtained. In this way we ensure that the design, finished installation, and ongoing operation and maintenance needs are aligned with Owner expectations and that that the Owner’s requirements are fully realized through the design and finished installation as well. This is always a Win-Win situation.

We also all know the cliché that “Hindsight is Always 20/20”. Don’t get caught with the coulda woulda shoulda. Taking the time upfront to clearly and comprehensively define the project needs and goals, and committing to aligning efforts accordingly, is an invaluable exercise that will help keep your project on budget, on schedule, and set you up for ongoing success. Now that’s priceless.

Stay tuned for more insight on system lists and budgets in a future blog.

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    I love what you guys are up too. Such clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the very good works guys I’ve included you guys to

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