Benefits of a Standards Program

Published on : October 22, 2010

Benefits of a Standards Program

Benefits of a Standards Program

Designing facilities with an aesthetic continuity not only creates a unified appearance, but also a branding identity for the owner aiding in name recognition while providing significant cost savings. Creating and maintaining a Standards Program can be valuable in many ways. A Standards Program can include finishes, furniture, equipment, signage, artwork, etc. The specification for the program should be documented in a user friendly format for access by all parties with specification or purchasing responsibility in the organization. 

Finishes: Select a palette of finishes to meet the owner’s criteria and applicable codes. Include information such as manufacturer, style, color and guidelines for application. Assign an item code to each material and instruct the architects to use this code on their finish schedule for all projects.


This can include any type of material such as flooring, wall treatments, etc… Create stocking agreements with the manufacturers for the most commonly used materials.

  • The greater the quantity means more negotiating power means lower the cost of the material.
  • More consistent dye lots.
  • Significantly shorten or eliminate the length of time the design team spends on material and finish selections, meeting, and approvals.
  • Avoid costly delays due to materials not arriving on time.

*Wall covering was selected as a standard for a multi-hospital system utilizing approximately 10,000 lineal yards of material in one calendar year yielding a 40 percent  cost savings through a stocking agreement.

Furniture: This portion of the program can be commonly used items or include a complete inventory of all items that can be ordered. You will find furniture dealers welcome the opportunity to work within a Standards Program.  Some dealers will even go one step further and assist you in creating the Standards Program. You may also arrange to stock commonly used items such as task chairs, keyboard trays or COM fabric in an effort to service the client quickly. Furniture always takes longer than expected and people are surprised to hear that it will be six to eight weeks before their task chair arrives and that is from the point that the order is actually placed. Imagine if you had a few fabrics to pick from and that was it?

  • Furniture dealers can generate their specification quickly saving time and money.
  • Furniture dealers can be your champion and negotiate discounts with the manufacturer.
  • The time spent going back and forth trying to finalize selections is eliminated.

*A task chair was selected as a standard for a multi-hospital system and the manufacturer agreed to stock the COM fabric reducing the lead time from six to eight weeks to ten days.

Equipment: This includes medical equipment and other items typically not furnished by a furniture dealer needed to meet customer needs. Work with the purchasing department to develop the equipment standards. Be sure to include a cut sheet that provides dimensions and electrical and mechanical requirements. This will help ensure that the equipment that was ordered fits into the opening the architect approved on the millwork shop drawings.

  • Cut sheet information will be useful to the design team during design development phase.
  • Standard equipment ordered directly by departments or users will fit in the space provided.

Signage: This seems like a simple one, but there are so many places that have signs that are not consistent or are hard to read. Select the colors and style, and stick with it. Set guidelines for layout and verbiage. Work with a signage vendor and develop the signage standards together, including pricing. Include images of the typical signs along with sample verbiage.

Artwork: Establish a relationship with an artwork vendor. Work with your vendor to gather images for a theme. Set a standard for the frame material, profile, and finish. Provide budget costs for pieces based on dimensions. Have them stock the frame to decrease the lead time on your order. Ask your artwork vendor to keep a database of all pieces and their location to eliminate repetition and ensure continuity.

The Standards Program can be used by all team members and should be distributed to all new parties prior to starting work on your projects to ensure continuity and, save time and money.

  • Architects will use to generate the project manual, finish schedule, and coordinate with consultants.
  • In-house groups or department can place orders directly by selecting appropriate item from program.
  • Purchasing will be able to place order quickly and offer negotiated cost savings to owner.

About the Author

Amy L. Huber, NCIDQ, IIDA is a Project Manager at Integrated Facilities Solutions, Inc. providing Owner’s Representative services including Construction Project Management, Strategic Planning and Capital Budget Preparation and Management. Her focus is on the Programming, Planning, and Coordination phases of projects.  She was instrumental in the development and maintenance of a comprehensive Standards Program for a major teaching multi-hospital system located on the North Shore. Educated as an Interior Designer, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Art in Interior Design from the International Academy of Design and Technology in Chicago. She has worked as an Interior Designer at an architectural firm in Chicago and in Healthcare Facilities Management.
Telephone: 847 980 9953, Email: [email protected]