Based in London, Mulroy Architects is an award-winning, RIBA-Chartered Practice. They are a small team of nine staff that works mostly on residential projects and projects such as Radley College's rowing centre and a hostel for backpackers in Tower Bridge.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mulroy Architects acted early and started working from home within 24 hours. With respect to writing project specifications, Director Andrew Mulroy said that the transition was ‘“seamless’” thanks to NBS Chorus. 12 months on, the team is still working from home, and all specification writing now takes place collaboratively using Chorus.  

Moving to Chorus

The practice had been using NBS Scheduler since 2009, but with the move to home-working and most of their other software becoming cloud-based, it made sense to move to NBS Chorus. 

‘We had a demonstration of Chorus when the pandemic hit, and we were impressed with its feature set and how intuitive it was compared to NBS Scheduler. We also knew that Scheduler would be retiring later in 2021, so we wanted to make sure we were well prepared. With the help of our account manager and the NBS support and training, we were able to switch over Chorus quickly’, Andrew said. 

'We realised that by moving to Chorus, we could reduce our hardware costs and switch to writing specifications on Apple Macs rather than on PC – this was not possible with the older NBS software. With the software being cloud-based, we can now work anywhere with it – another key benefit.'

Figure 1  - Specification within NBS Chorus

One of the other advantages of using a cloud-based specification platform is that it allows greater collaboration. Chorus enables internal and external collaboration by allowing specifiers to invite other team members into the project environment. This is one of the main features that Mulroy Architects has been utilizing. 

‘Even though we’re a small practice, the way we run the office is by having teams of four working on a project; that way, everybody works on everything’, Andrew said. 

'We’ve recently started on a project where we’re all collaborating on the same specification as a team. It’s great to be able to see changes that the team are making in real-time and be able to leave notes directly on the spec – it speeds up decision making and how long it takes to complete a project.'  

A range of benefits 

Greater collaboration also means a greater level of risk management – something that Andrew says the practice has ‘without a doubt’ benefitted from with NBS Chorus due to the latest industry standards always being up-to-date and available at the user’s fingertips. 

As well as the overall impact on the business, Chorus has also helped to build the business’ level of specification knowledge and skills internally. ‘The guidance and notes on Chorus are brilliant for updates’, he said. 

'Standards are automatically updated within Chorus, and reading what's changed helps to improve your knowledge. The product information from NBS Source, that’s available in Chorus, is also useful - knowing which products have third party certification is essential to us when creating a specification, so having that information available saves everybody a lot of time at the design stage.'
Figure 2 - A selection of Mulroy Architects' projects

Andrew also believes that Chorus is helping the practice to specify sustainably.

'If you’re working on a project which is BREEAM rated, some of the clauses start to address that. Throughout the guidance notes and product literature, the sustainability information is embedded, which is good.'

 ‘The industry’s shift to digital is a mammoth task and what NBS is doing is great. Cloud-based systems are the way forward’.

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