by David Watson
1. Masters and Org Notes
The ‘Masters’ feature allows specification writers to assemble a set of master specifications that can form a central resource for colleagues to use on projects. This feature is strengthened by the ‘Org Notes’ feature, which allows technical guidance and lessons learned to be positioned against the master specifications.
This not only saves time on projects but also helps all involved in specification writing in an organization to make better decisions in order to improve project outcomes.
Figure 1.1 below shows a master specification for 07 21 16 ‘Blanket insulation’ to the left of the screen in the editor window. A number of the NBS articles have been completed to represent decisions typically made on projects. To the right of the screen are organization-wide guidance notes that assist the specifier on any project in their specification-writing process. By investing time in the creation of master specifications and associated notes, an organization can turn NBS Chorus into more than just a specification-writing platform. NBS Chorus can become a platform that captures the knowledge that exists within an organization.
Support on these features for NBS Chorus users can be found at the links below:
- Masters: https://support.thenbs.com/support/solutions/folders/7000042592
- Org Notes: https://support.thenbs.com/support/solutions/folders/7000044830
2. Collaborative specification writing
Typically, a number of construction professionals will contribute to the specification-writing process. With NBS Chorus, it is possible to invite any colleagues or external consultants to collaborate on a specification. As Chorus is a cloud-based platform, it has the benefit of being able to develop a single source of specification information as the project develops.
Figure 2.1 below shows how, on a project, it is possible to invite specification writers to collaborate and control what permissions they have on each specification. In this screenshot, it can be seen that the invited specification writer is being given contributor permissions to the main specification and reader permissions to the structural spec, but is being excluded from the civils specification.
Figure 2.2 below shows how, when two specification writers are working on the same specification, ‘software locks’ are placed on the articles being edited. It can be seen, in the window at the back, that User A is working on article 1.9, and that article 1.8 is locked to User B. The window in the foreground shows that User B is working on article 1.8, and that article 1.9 is locked to User A.
Support on collaborative working within NBS Chorus can be found below:
- Setting permissions: https://support.thenbs.com/support/solutions/folders/7000040461
- Copy between organizations: https://support.thenbs.com/support/solutions/folders/7000045374
3. Information presentation
On a construction project, specifications need to be presented in a standard, consistent way. The default presentation style when a specification is published in NBS Chorus is the CSI/CSC SectionFormat/PageFormat structure.
Presenting information in a standard format allows all involved in the project to know where to find information that is needed.
The NBS Chorus approach not only standardizes the published format but also encourages specifiers to focus on the most important aspect – the information that they are specifying – safe in the knowledge that their data will be consistently formatted when they publish it.
Figures 3.1 and 3.2 below show examples of the published output with clear table-of-content hyperlinks, header and footers, and the articles within the sections. Flexibility exists within NBS to customize format where required.
Figure 3.3 illustrates how the exact same project specification can be published in a completely different format by simply applying a new style to the example in Figure 3.2. Note the differences in header set-up, paragraph tab settings, fonts, etc. Anything you can style using Microsoft Word’s formatting tools can be incorporated into a stylesheet and applied to the published document.
Figure 3.4 below shows how, within NBS Chorus, it is also possible to lay specification requirements out in table form. Where a tabulated layout is most appropriate within a specification article, tables can be added. Cells can also be formatted to appear as column or row headers.
Support on the presentation of information within NBS Chorus can be found below:
- Publishing stylesheets: https://support.thenbs.com/support/solutions/folders/7000043430
- Specification tables: https://support.thenbs.com/support/solutions/folders/7000045107
4. Quality assurance
The sections within a specification for a large project may contain a huge amount of information. Being able to check the quality of this information prior to publication is essential. Figure 4.1 below shows an example of the cross reference report. In this screenshot, the three sections that are referenced have been checked to see (a) whether the section that they reference is in the specification and (b) if it is, whether it cross-references back to the section. This allows all cross references to be checked prior to publication.
Figures 4.2 and 4.3 below show how articles that are not required can be ‘parked’ (hidden/ excluded) and that articles, once made project-specific, can be marked as complete. The pie diagram against each section shows how many articles are complete.
Support on quality assurance within NBS Chorus can be found below:
- Reporting checks: https://support.thenbs.com/support/solutions/folders/7000045485
- Marking content as complete: https://support.thenbs.com/support/solutions/folders/7000045368
5. Summary schedules
Detailed specifications for complex projects are typically hundreds of pages in length. The ‘Summary schedule’ feature in Chorus now allows specification writers to tag articles that represent significant systems in the design so that a summary of the specification can be viewed. This allows other members of the project team, such as the client or other consultants, to understand the specification without reading pages and pages of content. Equally, it allows the specification-writing process to start earlier, where design responsibility and specifications are being first discussed.
Figure 5.1 below shows that the article 2.1 in section 07 55 22 has been flagged as being part of the Summary schedule. This may be at an early stage of the project, where the specification writer is not at a stage to complete the full technical specification, but simply wants to record design intent and indicate whether this part of the design will be completed by the design or contractor’s team.
Figure 5.2 below shows that the Summary schedule in Chorus lists a summary of each article with this flag. The article title, annotation reference, classification and brief description of each item can be seen. Selecting the article will take the user to the relevant section for further editing. Equally, project notes can be captured against these summary items if any team member wishes to make comments and influence the specification.
Working in a digital platform allows the level of information in the view to be appropriate to the user and the stage of the project. Agreeing on specification intent and responsibilities is essential, especially when collaborating with an external specification writer. This functionality has been developed in association with SCL Schuman, an organization that is part of the NBS group of companies, and works as specification consultant on complex international projects.
Further support on the Summary schedule feature is at the link below:
More and more specifiers are now using NBS Chorus in Canada and around the world. Adopting a digital platform for specification writing allows organizations to (a) lower risk of project dispute through better quality specification and (b) increase efficiencies through the use of intuitive software.
To find out more about NBS Chorus and the Canadian specification content libraries, please see: