I distinctly remember the day it dawned on me that architectural design was a PROCESS. I was still under the care of a mentor (babysitter). It suddenly dawned on me that he was trying to teach me his design process, even though he didn’t present it that way. Then the large wattage bulb went on - everyone has to have a process, or you would never pull it all together.
This episode happened pre-Internet. Trying to find information about the ideal process was a waste of time. The information was not out there. However, at about the exact same moment, 1973, the AIA was preparing their first Document D-200, Project Checklist. Finally the recipe I sought was available. Kind of.
I’ve been playing around with the idea of developing my Trello Project Management process. The concept is to set up a master checklist of tasks that every project uses. For each of your projects, copy the master, modify for unique circumstances, and use it to assign work and track progress. So far this is what it looks like. I have subdivided each phase into major tasks that parallel types of work or sheet contents, and it also follows assembly divisions (here's why).
One of the cool things that I recently discovered about the idea is that the project tasks that you are assigned can be tracked using Harvest’s integration with Trello, which adds your time to your Harvest time sheet.
Here’s what that would look like.
A year after I started my own firm, I was invited to design a hangar for my Dad's golfing buddy, who happened to have started an airline that was growing by leaps and bounds. We designed projects for his airline for about twenty years until they were bought out by one of the major airlines. One of the main skills that allowed us to keep up with their growth was my knowledge of project delivery methods - mostly book-learning, driven by interest.
That first project quickly grew into a hangar / office building to house the whole airline, then just three of the seven departments because all seven wouldn't fit - and it was taking too long to peg what they really needed. So we pre-bid the site work, which included a lot of paving for aircraft. Then we bid-out a Pre-Engineered Metal Building for the hangar shell. Finally, the construction was contracted on a Cost-Plus basis for doing the work. Everything went smoothly. If I had been stuck, comfort-wise, with the traditional Design-Bid-Build approach, we would have been passed over for the hangar addition that we started designing 6 months later.
For this same client we used Bridging to get a hangar built in Florida; we used cost-plus-a-fee for a major remodeling; and we used Construction Management with the CM as Constructor (at risk) for their corporate aircraft hangar. Over and over, being able to guide the construction phase in the right direction was critical. That was the longest run we had with a client.
I've posted four brief articles about Project Delivery Methods that you can check out below. Then I will wrap up with some PROs and CONs on the different choices available to you. BTW there are standard AIA contracts for all of these options. This is far too critical for inventing your own contracts, but sometimes the Project Delivery Method isn't exactly what the AIA agreement envisions.
Over the past year I have spent a lot of time looking into how architects do bookkeeping. My focus was on small firms of less than 15 people. I have interviewed about 75 firms and received almost 1500 survey responses.
For most of my career, my firm was seven people or smaller. For about 20 years we used Deltek Advantage and liked it. It is only in hindsight that I realized what gross overkill that software was. That is the problem that everyone in the small firm category has:
Finding a bookkeeping solution that doesn't cost too much money and TIME.
After a year I know that solution does not exist. I continue to look for programs that could be the solution - even if it means "tricking" them into being what is needed. Along the way I have learned a lot about what small firm architects use and how things could be better, even if perfection remains elusive.
These six articles describe what I have discovered.