Principal Designer | created by Pikisuperstar

The slow death of spreadsheets in Principal Design

There was a time when the mighty shared spreadsheet took over from paper forms, and all was good. Colour coded GANT diagrams, emailed from person to person to update, initially seemed like a great idea to keep any construction project on the straight and narrow.

But teams have got bigger as architects, contractors, principal designers, project managers and investors all want to be kept up to date and getting a giant spreadsheet with ‘Version 19’ saved into the title to make sure everyone has the most current version wasn’t uncommon, and the project is only a third of the way through!  Confusion reigns.

Cloud-based spreadsheets!  Fantastic, we can all see the most recent version!  But the design and construction industry has got more complicated in the meantime.  CDM legislation has put a greater emphasis on health and safety, Building Information Modelling introduces an additional layer to design and the shared spreadsheet is now so big that it’s in danger of taking over even the biggest screen.  All individuals are being given information in one place and in fact, is it essential everyone has all information or is it just overload?

The fact is that a lot of information really doesn’t always need to be in one place, however CDM is one such area.  The role of principal designer was created to ensure that there is a single individual wholly responsible for the health and safety of a project and as long as the outcomes are communicated in summary, a giant spreadsheet will only further confuse.

Farewell to spreadsheets in construction?

It is for this reason that specialist tools are taking over from the mighty spreadsheets.  Not only do these tools mean that information is collated away from the overall plan, making it easier to find quickly and efficiently, but it means that it is in a format that can easily demonstrate that legislation is being followed and more importantly, that everyone on site is safe from injury, or worse.

The human cost of getting CDM wrong means it really isn’t worth leaving it to chance with a blunt tool as generic as a spreadsheet.  Spreadsheets are more suited to budgets, accounts and Christmas party menu choices.  Cloud-based and app-based tech do not just record but also guide principal designers in recording information and save, rather than use up, time.

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