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what are some staffing benefits of a firm working on similar project types?

- staffing plans are easy, as the staff is all familiar w/ the project type
- determining fees is easy, as a review of the accounting system & actual hours spent will be similar to what is needed for the project type
- tracking how much time was spent or needed will be easier


how should a staffing plan be approached for a new project type?

- hire new staff experienced in that type of building design
- consult w/ colleagues or peers for assistance
- set an hourly fee instead of a fixed fee


when is an hourly fee more beneficial than a fixed fee?

when the project is of an unfamiliar type

when there are challenges to the project that the staff may not have worked through before


what characteristics should a project team have?

- excellent communication skills
- ability to stay focused & on track
- talent for overcoming challenges & obstacles as they arise
- experience in the project type


how is a project manager different from a staff member on a given project?

- staff member might not have every skill necessary to get the job done
- a great project manager mentors & inspires team to do their best work


why wouldn't a project manager have every staff member working on the same project at once?

- project fee might not be able to afford all of staff working at once
- might sacrifice profit, but would increase quality
- unnecessary burden to project manager, should be focused on providing quality service


what is billing back to the client?

hours billed directly to the client

this billing rate is usually 3x higher than an employee's hourly rate


what is a typical multiplier used when determining the billing rate of a staff person?

x3 for small firms
x5 for large firms


why is a staff person's hourly rate different from a billable rate?

the billable rate accounts for office overhead expenses including equipment & insurance, as well as covering the billable rate of the employee


employee's utilization rate

an employee's billable hours divided by the total hours they worked (x100 for %)


who would have the highest utilization rate in an office?

junior staff

as higher level staff are expected to spend unbillable time handling firm operations


what are some factors to consider when comparing a project's design budget to the staff's salaries?

- cost of consultants needed for the project
- multiplier for the billing rate
- how much time the principal will spend on this project (rate is usually highest)
- what the staff utilization ratio for the project should be


what role does HR play in a small firm?

typically HR performed by the managing principal or an outside recruiter



process of integrating a new employee into the firm, sometimes using an employee manual

- at a small firm, managing principal or office manager takes this on
- medium firm, individual manager takes on through more formal process
- large firm, HR or department manager handles it


other than salary, firms might offer what to attract talented employees?

- culture
- flexibility
- design reputation
- responsibility/management
- benefits
- titles
- ownership track


what are options for companies when work slows down w/ economic cycles?

- take on work at a different location, sometimes out of the country
- diversify project type
- loan out staff
- rent out some of office space
- establish partnerships
- partner w/ the architect of record on a project in another city


compensation types

- amount of pay
- overtime policy
- retirement
- firm ownership
- health insurance
- membership & dues


intangible benefits a firm might have...?

- firm's reputation
- firm's philosophy &focus
- office location
- office w/ flexible hours
- office culture
- well-designed office
- work-life balance
- recognition among peers
- office policies


why would a firm offer a rate that is above market rate?

a small firm might do this if they don't offer other benefits such as nicer healthcare plan or fancy office


what should firms maintain to keep their staff motivated & productive?

- exciting projects
- quality work
- work recognition
- firm reputation
- relationships w/ the people we work with


what is the role of the project manager?

they are in charge of organizing the project team

- must multitask while communicating & setting clear expectations w/ the owner
- can convey good & bad news to owner & team
- work to find solutions to problems that arise


large firms are often organized as vertical, horizontal, or _____ system

matrix system (a combination of vertical & horizontal)


large form using a vertical organization system

the staff on a project follow the project through all the design phases through to construction observation

staff must have a diverse array of skills to make sure they can complete the project; usually enjoyed by staff as they are exposed to several challenges


large firm using a horizontal organization system

more like an assembly line, where project is pushed through several departments through the different design phases

- advantage is for each department to work on their expertise on the project
- disadvantage is design direction may be lost along the way
- staff may feel burnout after repeating same tasks over & over; may not feel they are given the opportunity to be challenged


large firm using a matrix system

uses a core team that works on the project through all design phases, but also uses departments that will jump in when needed to help with certain tasks

e.g. use of 3d modeler to start work during DD phase to create renderings


mid-size firm

20-100 employees & less corporate feeling

dedicated HR & marketing staff

works on small & large projects

runs using "matrix" system as used in large firm, where project manager leads a core team through a project & pulls in expert staff as needed


mid-size office structure A

- senior principals & principals act as consultants amongst each other
- together, they manage the PMs, who manage the PAs, who oversee the designers


mid-size office structure B

senior principals manage the managing principal & PMs, who manage the PAs, who oversee the designers


mid-size office structure C

the design principal works on 4-7 projects per day, managing principal works one hour per project per day, design principal works under PM


small firm

- 20 or fewer employees, have flexible organization & take on the personality of its principals
- use vertical or matrix model system, staff takes on various office tasks incl. marketing or admin work
- staff may have decision making responsibility, good for interns wishing to learn
- usually several small projects at once, one staff needs to be ready to jump onto another project if needed
- should not just have one big project in case it is paused, or principal would be too busy to find next project