Standards, Mud, and the Middle Ground


Over at the ever excellent Revit OpEd blog, Steve Stafford recently posted a response to a Quick Tip I, uh, recently posted. His post does a great job of thoroughly explaining the issue I hinted at (and frankly, makes me a little ashamed that I didn’t go into much detail.)

My initial response was, “Holy crap! Steve Stafford reads my blog!” After that, my brain, in its never ending quest to not let me fall asleep at night, went down a rabbit hole of standards, procedures, and users.

Steve lays out a procedure to follow that filters all content loading on a project through a single user to help avoid issue like this. And while this is a great ideal solution to aim for, I tend to offer my tips and advice in more of a triage functionality. I do love standards and aiming for the ideal, but I also have seen many projects and many users panic at the eleventh hour and simply need to get the job out the door. I want to make sure their panicked clicking does as little damage to the model as possible. Sometimes this leads to conversations with owners, sometimes it leads to more education for users, sometimes it leads to tweaking of content and procedures to help users from shooting themselves in the foot.

This roundabout finally gets me to the point on this post: standards and procedures and users.

Right off the bat, I don’t have a great answer here, but this is a discussion that has been going on for decades and will continue to go on for decades more. Your firm is going to have standards, and the industry and technology has best practices that everyone should aim for. As a BIM (or even IT) manager, your job is to push people in the direction of best practices, but you also need to balance that push with the culture and specific needs of your company. Somewhere in the middle are your standards.

You working on your standards
You working on your standards

I’ve always said that standards are set in mud; they need to be solid enough so everyone can see them and follow them, but malleable enough to update as needs arise. One set of standards and procedures is not going to be ideal for two different firms, there is a delicate balancing act that support staff needs to maintain, and knowing the users and how they work is critical to that. The users may not be advanced enough for a tricky technical procedure, the staffing levels might not be high enough to support having a dedicated model manager, the owner of the company might REALLY LOVE that font that is a pain to make work in the annotation families. As a support person, you need to know where to draw the line, and where that line needs to get erased from time to time.

Just try to make that line a Detail Line and not a Model Line. That Model Line shows up in everybody’s views.


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