Firm Puts Spec Software to the Test

Dec. 4, 2007

BSD SpecLink reduces spec production time at C.M. Architecture

Established in 1977, C.M. Architecture P.A. (CMA) is an established and nationally recognized retail architectural design firm providing architectural and planning services to clients throughout the United States. Its highly talented staff provides design services to numerous high-profile retailers and is involved in the planning and design of numerous commercial, governmental, telecommunications, industrial, multifamily housing, and institutional projects.

The Need
In 1996, CMA's staff was experiencing many frustrations with its spec writing system. Sam Austin, senior project architect, recalls, "With our previous commercial spec writing system, we had to wade through enormous amounts of information and then delete what we didn't want. Trying to accommodate differing client needs was also very time-consuming and frustrating. We were always experiencing out-of-date references and information." As the chief specification writer for the company, Austin decided to find a better solution. After evaluating SpecLink and using it on his first project, Austin knew he found the answer.

The Solution
Says Austin, "For many years I have written specs with most of the available systems, and I can assure you that SpecLink is the best I have used. We subscribed to SpecLink in the fall of 1996, just as I was starting work on an 185,000-square-foot distribution center, so that became our ‘test project.' On jobs of that size, we would normally have received 40 to 50 RFIs during construction. Largely due to the clarity and completeness of our specs (a two-volume project manual) using SpecLink, we had only 14 RFIs!"

Since that time, CMA has used SpecLink for every type and size of project and  developed several in-house masters for repeat clients. "Like many firms, we are involved in a very broad range of project types and sizes, and we have been able to produce unique and unusual spec sections with minimal effort using SpecLink," states Austin. "It's almost as easy as using any word processing software. With SpecLink, it is easier to select what you want. We simply make the selections for our project, and the intelligent linking power helps us do the rest. As a result, we have reduced our RFIs by 60 to 70 percent and our spec production time by 50 to 70 percent depending on the project type."

"Of course," he continues, "any spec writing system takes a great deal of knowledge and careful thought, but SpecLink provides a really powerful tool to make the job so much easier."

The Outcome
In addition to time savings, SpecLink has produced more concise, complete, and accurate specs, giving CMA better control over product quality while significantly reducing contractor questions during bidding and construction.

"Developing spec masters with SpecLink has been very easy and, with the quarterly updates, there's no worry about standards and references being out of date," says Austin. "Each update brings new sections, new features, and improvements to the overall system."

Summarizes Austin, "From the very beginning, we got to know the people at BSD by using their excellent technical support. They are very knowledgeable, accessible, and always quick with answers. Our last 8 years with the system have been very good ones, and the improvements continue to address our user requests. Spec writing is a challenging task, but SpecLink makes it a much more pleasant experience."

For more information on BSD SpecLink, contact Bryant Hendricks ([email protected]).

BSD SpecLink is a powerful specification writing, management, and production system with built-in intelligence designed to dramatically speed up editing tasks and reduce specification production time while minimizing errors and omissions. Users' project files are each maintained in a single database rather than in multiple word processing files. Several model projects are included that allow the user to start with a pre-edited set of complete specifications. Because the master data is always visible and never deleted, it is easy to review project choices or select alternatives. Users can also import their own custom sections and/or create model projects specific to company or project-related requirements.

More on CMA
CMA's offices are centrally located in Minneapolis and Fort Worth, TX. The firm's projects have been featured in Business Week magazine's "Profiles of Leading Architectural, Engineering, and Construction Management Firms," as well as many other industry publications. CMA was ranked by Display & Design Ideas magazine as one of the Top 15 Firms, when comparing the amount of retail square footage (in millions) designed. CMA was also ranked by Display & Design Ideas magazine as one of the Top 30 Firms, when comparing the amount of retail billings (in millions) in 2003.

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