Collaborative Design: Sprinting Ahead

Thanks to internet commerce and massive logistics firms, most people can order nearly anything and see it arrive on their doorstep the next day. Red-label shipping for spare parts, arc flash tags, or permit drawings often help projects recover from a last-minute surprise.

So, we asked these questions: What would it look like to “red label” a design package? How could we accelerate the timeline of design and turn out a deliverable or set in hours instead of days or in days instead of weeks?

Building on success and lessons learned from trial runs, labelled as “Apollo” projects within Interstates, the “sprint” has become a powerful tool for completing design and coordination efforts in less calendar time than a traditional staged delivery method. We have found the sprint comes with additional benefits such as:

  • Cross-training opportunity where new team members can be trained by more experienced leaders
  • Relationship building among team members who would not normally work together in their primary roles
  • Serving as a platform to experiment with alternate methods and new tools

A sprint can be used any time there is an opportunity where a group of people come together around a specific problem and work collaboratively to create a solution. For example:

  • Pulling a group of leaders together to generate and agree to strategy in a two-day intensive session
  • Assembling a multi-discipline team of designers to complete detailed coordination of a project
  • Setting a recurring sprint session for group review of shop drawings and submittals

Some lessons learned from using sprints at Interstates include:

  • Preparations for the sprint are critical. The team must know why they are doing the work, what their definition of “done” is, and have all the information required to complete the work.
  • Start the sprint each day by clearly articulating the overall goal.
  • The sprint team should set intermediate goals and review them regularly to track progress.
  • Plan for reviews that will be needed and ensure the necessary leaders and technical experts will be available even if they are not full participants in the sprint.
  • Be prepared in the event that some work does not get completed during the sprint by having a plan to finish the work afterwards or add resources while the sprint is in progress.

So, what does “red label” design look like? Recently, a client contacted us and needed urgent help on a permit package. A team was assembled for a sprint and they worked together to assemble and send a stamped drawing package less than 36 hours after starting with blank paper. The client was able to obtain its permit on time and the project proceeded on schedule.

If you are interested in learning more about leveraging sprints to accelerate your project, please contact Interstates at 712-722-1662.

Sam Fopma, Electrical Engineer


Note: Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Interstates has decided not to print our Spring 2020 Current Connections publication.