Is the RIBA right to overhaul its Plan of Work?
Yes, says Dale Sinclair, it is no longer tailored to the way we work today; while Mark Newall says the general membership should have been consulted
Director of Dyer and editor of RIBA Plan of Work 2013
The RIBA Plan of Work is 50 years old. It has served us well but it is no longer tailored to the modern construction industry. The UK government has many initiatives under way relating to briefing, deliverables and project outcomes. If the RIBA fails to embrace and contribute to these initiatives, the RIBA Plan of Work will, simply, be replaced by other industry documents. Updating it is an opportunity for architects to provide leadership to the industry: we need a Plan appropriate to the information age.
The current Plan of Work was developed on the basis of a traditional procure-ment model; however, the RIBA’s consultation revealed that 40% of practitioners regularly use D&B forms. The time has come to recognise this. RIBA Plan of Work 2013 is a template that allows the creation of a more specific project or practice plan of work. The generic template
is procurement-neutral; the specific plans are procurement route-focused.
Technology has changed other sectors, and design professions will not be immune to similar change. That said, new technologies are already delivering excellent, more complex designs. Clients like what they see and they want more. We need to be advocates for better information: the right information delivered at the right time, integrated on the “drawing board” rather than on site. Bim can be harnessed to our advantage.
RIBA Plan of Work 2013 is suitable for large or small projects and traditional or non-traditional procurement. It dovetails with forthcoming RIBA initiatives such as the Better Briefing: Better Buildings Guide. We simply cannot miss this opportunity.
Partner, Baart Harries Newall Architects
We are just waking up to the fact the RIBA is changing the Plan of Work, and are horrified by the proposals. I have Googled a consultation document that explains how the RIBA “has been consulting with a number of other RIBA expert member groups and a range of internal and external stakeholders”. How about consulting the general membership before taking such a radical step?
The document says the current work stages are well understood but have some weaknesses; why not update them to address these issues, without tearing them up? It is also said to be a disadvantage that the work stages have their origins in traditional procurement; 90% of our workload is constructed by traditional procurement.
Lastly, the old Stage D has been extended partly into Stage E. There is an industry-wide understanding that our earliest (and largest) stage payment is charged at completion of Stage D. This is right and proper, as the ability to imagine and design the project remains our unique skill. While the formal link with fee scales and stage payments was broken
in the 1990s, this is still widely recognised today. The abolition of Stage D would undermine this last vestigial linkage.
The work stages are embedded in our entire suite of document templates for client agreements, fee structure, cash flow, professional indemnity insurance and, worst of all, our QA Manual. As with the RIBA Form of Appointment, each successive revision complicates the document and erodes its utility.
We will continue to use SFA/99 and the work stages that are embedded in that document.
We have recently seen Arb rightly castigated for expanding their remit, but the RIBA is out there on its own — operating in complete isolation from its membership.