The 2013 edition is the most comprehensive update to the RIBA Plan of Work since its first publication fifty years ago. In this article, Dr Stephen Hamil looks into some of the advantages of a digital plan of work.

One significant improvement to the RIBA Plan of Work is the accompanying website externallink - this provides users with the ability to tailor the plan to the specific needs of any practice of project. There cannot be a "one-size-fits-all" project plan that meets the needs of every organisation and all ranges of projects. By being available online the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 addresses this need. It allows users to customise the plan by providing the option to select and define the procurement route, combine certain work stages and choose the optimum time to go for planning application – though the Core Objectives of each Stage of the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 are fixed and cannot be altered.

Browsing the plan

In paper format, a publication is static; it can only be viewed in one way. However, if the words in a publication are structured digitally and built into a web application then these words can be presented to the user at the most appropriate times. Examples of this are shown in figures one and two below.

Figure one shows that each task or term within the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 has a full definition. In the paper version, this definition is within the five page glossary at the end of the publication. In the digital version, the user simply hovers over the task or term in bold to immediately view the full definition.

Figure two shows that against each of the work stages the user may view either the tasks for the stage or an overview of this stage that displays technical guidance. Again, the benefit of the digital version is that the correct information is at the users fingertips at the correct time.


Figure 1 – Glossary of terms


Figure 2 – Stage Guidance

Customising the plan

Following browsing the RIBA Plan of Work 2013, users can then create a version of the plan to meet their precise project or practice requirements. The user simply answers a few questions and the output is a PDF that is customised to their needs. The customisation tool is shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3 – Customizing the RIBA Plan of Work 2013

The main customisation options are around the "three Ps": procurement, programme and (town) planning. In terms of procurement, there are many different options available in modern construction and tasks will vary dependent on which procurement route is chosen. A simple example is that tendering and other procurement activities will happen at a different work stage depending on what procurement route is selected. With respect to programme, for now the programme bar is based on generic stage overlaps based on the selected procurement route with RIBA Plan of Work 2013 advocating the preparation of a project programme to cover the specific details of a project. Finally, it is possible to select whether the planning application will be made at the end of stage 2 or 3.

The final customisation options are two task bars that may be switched on or off. These task bars are for sustainability checkpoints and the decision milestones for government projects.

The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 template, the overview guidance, the glossary of terms and the functionality surrounding the generation of a customised plan is all completely free. It is hoped that all of those involved in construction projects based on the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 will appreciate this website and really find it a valued resource.

Further opportunities

The release of RIBA Plan of Work 2013 in May is just the start. Expect more knowledge and further functionality around the tasks in the plan in the near future.

Immediate examples of the additional knowledge around a project workflow is the content being delivered in a series of publications based on and around the RIBA Plan of Work 2013, including the Guide to Using the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 externallink, a new edition of the RIBA Job Book externallinkand Assembling a Collaborative Project Team externallink. The first two of which will be published in May, to accompany the launch, and the latter will be published this autumn.

In terms of software functionality, the research and development team at RIBA Enterprises are currently looking at key online work flow tools that will support assembling project teams, assigning design responsibilities and briefing. The vision is that information that is captured at the start of the project will flow through the project lifecycle to assist all those involved in the construction process.