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Using FF&EZ's Specification Status Features

Posted by jimcarls on August 22, 2012

FF&EZ includes a number of features that allow a designer to manage the process of verifying and approving specification information, as well as issuing revisions of specs. This entry discusses how they are used during the life of a project.

Spec Management Tools

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The specification status fields are grouped into a section titled "Spec Status" on the Specification List screen. This section is not visible until you select the "Display spec status" option (check box) at the bottom of the screen (it shares the same space as the shipping and freight fields). Once you select that option, these fields will remain visible until you close the specification form or unselect the option.

These fields make it easier to keep track of which specs have passed specific milestones and — just as important — which ones have not. They appear on some reports and can be used in a query to print only objects and specifications that are at a specific point in the design and approval process. Note that the basic spec management fields appeared in version 3.2.8, while the vendor quote fields and "order by" calculation were added in version 3.2.25.

Approvals

These two fields, "Design approved" and "Client approved," are date fields that can be used to flag a specification for any milestone related to design completion. Don't forget that all date fields can be set by simply pressing the "+" or "-" keys (plus or minus) to increase or decrease the date (starting with setting the current date if the field was empty) and will display a calendar if you double-click them.

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When a date is entered in either of these fields, the "DA" and "CA" columns in the worksheet will display a checkmark to indicate the status. This makes it easier to see which specifications may still need attention or communication in order to be approved.

Vendor Quotes

In any project where you are entering costs, you will find it easier to manage the cost verification process if you can mark the specs that have been verified. You can do this with the Vendor Quote fields. After entering a quoted price in the "Source, Pricing" section, simply click in the the "Vndr Quote #" field and enter the quote number or ID given to you by the vendor or, alternately, the letter "V" or "C" to have the system enter "Verbal" or "Confirmed" when you leave the field. You can then enter the date in the next field and if you do, the system will allow you to enter an expiration period in days. With the date and expiration entered, the system can display an expiration date next to the cost above, as well as display a warning symbol in the "Quote" column on the right side of the screen. Entering any form of "Vndr Quote #" in the field will put a checkmark in the column to signify that the vendor price has been checked.

Submittals

If any product requires a submittal, you can flag them with the "Submittal required" check box. If you do, the submittal status fields will be enabled, allowing you to record milestone dates and basic submittal status. Since these fields can be used in queries, you can print reports that function as "to do" lists

Specification Notes

This field is used for internal notes about the product spec. Unlike the "Add'l Descr" field to the left, the notes do not print on distribution reports. You can enter notes in any fashion you want, but if you use the Add Note button, the system will add a date/time stamp and your user name (in multi-user systems) at the top of the note stack, pushing other notes down. This approach keeps the most recent notes visible at the top to make any current status notes easy to see.

Update: As of version 3.2.75, the notes area also includes a "Web link" field into which you can paste a link to the web page for the product being specified. Note that this is in addition to the existing "Web site" field on the Vendor screen.

Status Reports

There are several different ways to produce reports that help you manage the status of specifications. These include the special queries created by the Setup Check functions on the FF&E Worksheet and Object screens. However, for specifications, the Specification screen has a similar check function called Status Check, which creates a query that looks for specific conditions related to the status fields described above. In all cases, these queries can be used as a setup to print any report with only those specs that met the check conditions. Since Setup Check creates a regular query, you can edit that query and eliminate conditions you don't care about. You can also set up a new query for a specific condition, such as "Client approved is not true" or "Vendor quote # is empty" to narrow the report to just one area of interest.

Although any report can be used with a query for reporting status, the Specification screen also has the "Spec Status List" reports (one sorted by Spec ID and the other by vendor), which list all the status fields in a compact format for review:

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Organizing Revisions

The "Revision Group" field on the specification screen is used to mark specifications as part of a specific set of revisions. The code you enter is entirely up to you, but the idea is to code each specification that has been revised (and needs to be reprinted) with a code that lets you quickly query for all the specs with the same code. The code could be as simple as "A" for all specs in the first revision set, "B" for the second and so on, or it could be the date on which you intend to issue revisions or anything like that (it should stay simple, though, to minimize problems from mistyping the code).

Since the Revision Group is a field, you can query on it. This means that when you want to issue a report with just those items that were recently revised, you simply create a query with the clause "Revision Group is equal to..." and supply the code you used for the revision group you want to print. You can mark specs with multiple revision codes (so that some specs might have revision group "A" while others might have "AB" and others "BC." In that case, you can use a query like "Revision Group contains 'C' " to only print the latest revisions.

Since all presentation reports are on the FF&E worksheet, FF&EZ will return all FF&E objects that include any spec matching the revision query. You can then run any report with that query, and supply the revision date you want to associate with the revision group(s) when you print.

The Cycle Begins Again: Cloning an Existing Project

If you are in a design business that uses repeating design elements, such as the hospitality industry, or if you have clients in a brand-oriented or franchise business, FF&EZ makes it easy to organize brand-specific design work, including prototype projects that you may clone to create new ones. If so, then you will want to clear some of the status fields for the new project so that some aspects of the design review process can be done in the new project. To make this easy, FF&EZ's Clone command on the project screen gives you a tool to decide which status items to reset:

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The Cloning Options dialog give you complete control over any existing status flags when you start the new project.

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