15 July 2021

NBS has been placing manufacturer’s products, systems and materials in front of specifiers since the 1970s. The past 5 decades has seen continual evolution of our platforms which most notably transitioned from paper documents, through to the RIBA Product Selector, The National BIM Library and today our latest evolution NBS Source. NBS Source is a fully cloud based solution which allows specifiers to search and select the components that they need to include within their designs in one single place.

NBS’ specification software has also undergone the same digital transition as the directories. NBS Chorus our latest cloud based specification tool is used by thousands of specifiers on projects of every size and sector to generate structured and high quality specifications, it even connects to the BIM model. There are many advantages to Chorus for specifiers, however a clear benefit to both specifiers and manufacturers is that any manufacturer product, system or material listed in NBS Source is also available within NBS Chorus to simply add direct to the specification. In this article we will look at how the two NBS platforms, Source and Chorus, provide one fully interconnected solution to help you meet the needs of both your business and your clients.

1. Research on what specifiers want

At NBS, we receive customer feedback daily through conversations with our specifier and manufacturer customers. In addition to this, we typically host a number of focus groups before embarking on large development projects. Through recent discussions, many themes became clear: our specifiers had been using RIBA Product Selector, NBS Plus and the National BIM Library for many years, and were clear on how they wanted us to enhance the offering in our next development. Figure 1.1 below highlights some of the requests that we received. Clearer supporting information around third-party certification and guidance on the suitability of products was a clear theme. For example, knowing that a manufacturer system or product had been tested to achieve a particular performance – but only if installed in a particular system. This could be a doorset in a particular partition build-up, or a metal tile in a particular cladding system construction. Other themes were the ability to use digital technology to better collaborate with manufacturers’ technical support teams – whether this is getting advice on a web call or working collaboratively on specifications together.

Figure 1.1 – Customer focus groups prior to starting out on the NBS Source development

Figure 1.2 attempts to group the many requirements into a list of ten for simplicity. Unsurprisingly, based on the make-up of the focus groups, specification was an absolutely key topic. We were asked to build a system in which manufacturer specifications matched the generic NBS specification structure. This would allow for better integration with the specification-writing process, and also give consistency so that all products could be filtered and compared. Technical characteristics around fire safety and sustainability were understandably raised as a priority.

Figure 1.2 – What specifiers want from manufacturers

It also became clear that NBS users didn’t want three separate websites for this content: they wanted a single platform with a great user experience on any device.

We took this feedback back to the office, where we developed wireframes, and presented these back to our customers. Once we knew that we were on the right track, we developed and then launched NBS Source.

2. Structuring manufacturer product information

Now that NBS Source has been launched, and thousands of products have been enhanced to our new data structures, the best way to demonstrate its functionality is by going through content examples.

The video below shows a number of examples of manufacturer products that illustrate how we have responded to the customer requirements outlined in section 1 of this article. Each product example demonstrated in the video is also listed in the following blog post: https://constructioncode.blogspot.com/2021/06/examples-of-new-content-structures-in.html

Video – NBS Source – examples of well-structured manufacturer product information (1 of 3)

3. Integration into the design and specification process

What makes NBS different is how our platforms integrate. Developing a platform with well-structured information from the leading UK construction manufacturers is a useful exercise. But integrating the information within this platform with the NBS Chorus specification platform is what makes the NBS offering unique.

In the video below, a number of working methods are shown. Firstly, the way that products may be added to a specification within NBS Chorus in one click. Secondly, the way that products may be researched in NBS Source using comparison and filtering to find the right one, before copying and pasting it into the specification. Finally, the way that the specification and design process can be coordinated by working with Chorus and Source inside leading design tools such as Autodesk Revit.

Video – NBS Source – using manufacturer product information in design and specification workflows (2 of 3)

4. How specifiers are using NBS Source and Chorus

The final video to accompany this webinar looks at how a typical architectural practice is using Source and Chorus. Nick Greenwood from Maber Architects took the time to walk through an example using NBS Source to research the roof openings available on the market that satisfied the design. Once he has selected one, he adds it to the specification and configures it for the project. Finally, Nick links the object in the design to the specification using the NBS plug-in for Archicad to produce a fully coordinated design and specification.

Video – NBS Source – how architectural practices are using manufacturer product information (3 of 3)


We believe that these latest enhancements to our integrated platforms Source and Chorus are great news for both manufacturers and specifiers alike. NBS Source is the only platform that can get you seen and connects you directly to our specification platform NBS Chorus getting you in front of decision makers whilst they are working on the project specification.. For more information on all of the subjects covered in this article, please see the links below:

This article has a corresponding on-demand webinar ‘Making the most of NBS Source’.

Find out more about how you can get your company’s products listed on NBS Source.

And more information on NBS Chorus for Manufacturers.