Organizing the 40+ subjects an architect works with.
An architect, particularly an architectural firm, deals with a complicated group of subjects. In a large firm, it is not surprising to see specialists. In a small firm, which is the norm, you have to find a way to address all the subjects with just a handful of people, maybe just YOU.
The 'word cloud' above is what you are dealing with. Here is my list. Yours might be longer or shorter.
In no particular order: Design, Human Resources, Bookkeeping, Construction Technology, Procurement, Contracts, Sales, Time Management, Building Technology, Spec Writing, Financial Management, Building Codes, Marketing, Construction Admin, Project Management, Planning, CAD, Cost Estimating, ADA regs, Professional Liability, BIM, Zoning, Hiring, Firing, Benefits, Storm Water Regs, Managing People, Project Delivery, Rendering, Reprographics, Design Services, Presentations, Business Management, NFPA codes, Design Consultants, Computers, Record Keeping, Payroll, Banking / Money Management, Business Writing, Proposals, Facility Planning, Taxes, General Insurance, Facility, Purchasing.
Before I started my firm most of these issues didn’t impact me very much. When they did, they fell under the generic label of “office stuff”. But during the first few years of being in business, I needed a way to sort all those subjects. First for filing information, later for delegation.
I began to think of my firm as having four aspects: A-P-M-F. Administration, Production, Marketing and Finances. Administration included all the business administration activities. Production included all the project-related activities. Marketing included all the getting work activities. And Finances included all the money issues.
Now I would call them M-D-BD-F. Management instead of Administration. Design instead of Production. Business Development instead of Marketing. Finances is a keeper.
But the important issue is not HOW you organize all these issues; the important issue is that you devise a METHOD that makes sense to you for managing all these aspects of the practice of architecture.
You will place emphasis differently than I did, and there are certainly issues that are less important. If you are lucky enough to figure out how to grow successfully, everything will ‘have its day’ for being important.
You will find it handy to have a way to save and retrieve information on all these issues. A filing system like this may be helpful: https://www.architekwiki.com/wiki/organizing-your-files-in-the-cloud
When you have the opportunity to delegate, this top level organizing can help you. Think of delegation as training. Is the delegation going to train the person or is it just a short term solution to a problem. Maybe the delegation should be a less crucial task that could solve a long term training issue that creates the time you need to tackle the problem.
When you are frantic about the current situation, you will benefit from having an organizing principle to turn to.
If you want to be deeply involved with design, you will need someone else to be involved in management, business development, and finances.
If you don’t develop a system for moving in the direction you want, then you are doomed to wearing way too many hats, which leaves you with too little time to do what you really want to do.
I think the first step is to organize your thinking about your business, your firm.
The bad news is that there isn’t one solution (unfortunately). The good news is that your solution only has to satisfy you. That makes it lots easier.
To help you get started, I have arranged my issues to use as a starting point. You don’t have to start from scratch unless you want to. Add, subtract, rename, reorganize. But get your top level thinking organized.
My list of 40+ subjects would be organized by the M-D-BD-F categories like this.
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