by Paul Swaddle
It wouldn’t make sense to write all these clauses from scratch at the start of every new specification, especially if you’re beginning with a blank page for each project. Equally though, there’s risk in re-using old content from previous projects, because you need to keep that information up to date with an evolving industry and changing standards, and project-specific differences can also be significant and time-consuming to adapt for new specifications.
NBS Chorus can be described as a ‘master specification’ platform, which means that technical teams at NBS have pre-authored hundreds of master clauses – to provide repeatable, reusable templates with embedded values and common options, and associated contextual guidance to help you make decisions. This saves you time because you don’t have to write project specification clauses from scratch, it increases your efficiency within the cloud-collaboration platform by making these clauses easy to find and use, and it reduces risk, giving you confidence you’re using up-to-date standards and references. You can adapt these clauses to complete project-specific requirements, and suit how you develop specifications.New development in NBS Chorus allows you to take this approach even further, by creating your own library of Masters. Using and developing Masters in NBS Chorus can result in significant time savings compared to both self-generating specifications, or using generic or blank NBS content templates and completing the project-specific values every time.
Simply, these Masters folders work in the same way as Projects in NBS Chorus. For a while, you’ve been able to copy content from one specification to another – using ‘Copy to…’ to reuse content. Now, you can save those common systems, products and activities to a Masters folder and re-use them on future specifications.
Select the content you want to choose in the specification manager – and click Actions, then choose Copy to… and you’ll see there’s an additional option along with Projects and the clipboard, to copy your content to Masters. Select this option and you’ll see a notification that the content in your selection has been successfully copied to the new location in Masters.
- The Masters folders are permissioned like projects, so you can choose to invite other members of your organisation and control their access rights, giving them the ability to use content from Masters in their projects, but not edit or delete company-wide approved specification content.
- NBS Chorus will also check the currency of content in your Masters, and notify you of recommended updates that can be accepted or rejected by Masters administrators to keep the content up to date.
- NBS recommend not using NBS Plus manufacturers’ content in Masters – which is best added on a ‘per job’ basis, not only because it is likely to be project-specific, but also to ensure you’re accessing the manufacturers’ latest information and product data.
To make the most of Masters, consider the following questions:
- What content do you repeat on every project?
Think about what repeated content is currently written separately on every project, or copied across from a previous job. This could be specification clauses for common items, or preliminaries and contractual requirements. You could use Masters in NBS Chorus to manage a selection of this reusable content and keep it up to date through the NBS platform. At the start of a project, you can always begin by adding this information from your Masters to a new specification, giving you a head start on developing the content in parallel with model design development.
- What specification clauses don’t appear in NBS Chorus content that you tend to write yourself?
One popular use of Masters functionality is for specifiers who write their own specification content from scratch or adapt existing NBS Chorus clauses, because the item or system they wish to specify doesn’t appear in NBS standard content. It is now possible to save this user-generated or adapted content to your Masters, and re-use it again and again in future. Note that the way NBS Chorus also exposes the wider scope of Uniclass 2015 classification by providing the option to “Show template clauses” in search results should also make this task easier.
- How much adaptation will be required to the Masters?
The writing of Masters is a fine balancing act, between content which is so open and generic it could really apply to every project but requires a significant amount of adaptation and project-specific work; or the production of multiple variants of very similar Masters, which are too detailed and attempt to cover every eventuality in depth. The approach most likely to succeed will fall somewhere between the two, where the Masters are consistently useful and time-saving, but fewer Masters are required because they can each be quickly adapted to suit project-specific requirements.
- How much time can you spend managing Masters?
Time constraints and day-to-day project pressures will often limit the amount of time design teams and specifiers can spend managing a large suite of Masters content. Be realistic about the time you’ll have to manage your Masters, and start small with the most common aspects or items you specify regularly. Some organisations may have dedicated resource to develop and manage standardised content, but for most companies the task will be given to a small number of experienced individuals. Alternatively, arrange to work with other trusted specifiers in your organisation to collaborate on the development of Masters content, and remember to discuss and agree a well-communicated strategy for approaching the creation, approval and maintenance of your NBS Chorus Masters.