Unfortunately, there has never been one ultimate way to manage an architecture firm. Like any other business, an architecture firm can also face management issues and require formal management training.
Having wonderful employees and great clients is essential. But the most important aspect is project management. Attracting the best client and hiring a team of best professionals won’t bring best to your firm and your team won’t be able to make maximum profits out of your project, unless you avoid mismanagement.
Above all, there is a chronic need to manage resources across multiple projects at the same time. A mismanaged environment can create endless challenges. Nevertheless, for every hurdle, there’s always a solution as any great architect knows.
To provide the best tips we reached out to over 30 leading architects at firms. And acquired some important management tips they have practiced over 2000 employees and have learned them over the years.
Quality should be a priority
A manager at an architect firm should be credited for that commitment to quality over profit. While estimating the cost of a project a manager should keep the capacity of its employees in mind. To ensure the quality, he should do real time monitoring and take further steps according to it.
Stay within scope
There should be crystal-clear statements about work between your firm and clients. Put everything on the table. Highlight each phase of the project. With clear deadlines explaining what will be accomplished during that time.
Staying in scope does not mean that you avoid change in orders at all costs. In fact, they are a part of life in an architecture firm. If some projects need to be altered, a manager must go through proper processes and should inform everyone of the reason behind making those changes. And of course, these changes should be made upon the agreement of both parties.
Take control over billable utilization
Taking control of billable utilization is the biggest challenge faced by service providing firms, and architecture firms are among them. Due to the creative nature of the job, it is hard to estimate the monetary value of time spent on a particular activity.
Furthermore, actual and planned time can’t be compared always, because of the lack of sufficient tools. However, this kind of information is key to running a service business, because this decides whether the project is profitable or not.
This is the main reason why some projects run out of budget, because of the poor capability to estimate cost.
Keep a check on productivity
Find a way to measure your employee’s productivity, writing down their hours and attendance won’t be productive for a manager. Find a more automated technique. Use software to track employee engagement activities. With this control, there is a win-win situation for everyone and your client is even more pleased when they realize that the office works with reliable tracking software, clarity and above all honesty.
Having this strategic awareness will certainly make the most capable staff, because the small everyday processes, added in the long run, can also generate savings of resources and time.
Document management system
Remembering where to find the right document can be quite a challenge. Particularly for the firm which spread over different locations.
The most common deliverables are often shared by different teams, but it’s not always easy to track where the latest version is located.
Attach files to the project to ensure the whole team has access to the latest version of the document. These documents can be useful even after the project is completed to keep the trace of how it went.